Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards


Cornelius Vander Broek First Place Prize: $3,500
Second Place Award: $3,000
Third Place Award: $2,500
Fourth Place Award: $2,000
Fifth Place Award: $1,500
Sixth Place Award: $1,000
Seventh Place Award: $750 
Eighth Place Award: $500
Ninth Place Award: $400
Tenth Place Award: $300
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

All eligible entrants are offered a full 1-year complimentary student membership to FFRF, which includes a digital version of 10 issues of Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper (publishes winning student essays), and a complimentary book or premium. 
THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: "Why religion is not the answer"

PROMPT: Please analyze and document at least one major national or worldwide problem in which religion is the problem - not the answer. How does faith or religious dogma get in the way of solving earthly problems?  If religion is not the answer, what is? Indicate instead how we should approach the challenge you are analyzing in particular and problem-solving in general.

WORD LENGTH: 550 - 750 words
ELIGIBILITY: Open to any graduate students through the age 30, or to undergraduate students ages 25-30 who attend a North American college or university. You remain eligible to enter this contest if you will graduate by spring or summer 2022.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than 11:59pm, July 1, 2022.  Winners will be notified no later than September 2022.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out the online submission form and attach the essay. Essay must be typeset, double-spaced, standard margins, font size of 11 to 14 point, and attached as a PDF. Your name and the name of your essay must be included on every page. Pages must be numbered. Indicate word length at end of the essay. Please choose your own title; do not use the topic of the essay as the title. Do not attach a resume with your essay.

AGREEMENT: By entering the competition, you agree to permit your name and winning essay to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper; announced in a news release, and posted online at FFRF's website. You also agree, if you win an award, to promptly provide FFRF with a high-resolution photograph of yourself suitable for reproduction with your winning essay.

REQUIREMENTS: Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. Students will be disqualified if they do not follow instructions, including word limit and deadline. FFRF monitors for plagiarism. You may not re-enter this contest if FFRF has previously awarded you for an essay in FFRF's Brian Bolton "Graduate/Older Student" contest.  If you have previously entered but not won, you may submit another essay in this year's contest.

BANISH MANGLISH: FFRF encourages you to please use inclusive language, rather than male-generic language.  For example, try "humanity" or "humankind," rather than "mankind."