The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of its 2007 essay competition for college-bound high school seniors. Seniors were asked to write on the topic, Why I Do Not Need Religion To Be Moral."
Winner of the Blanche Fearn Memorial Scholarship of $2,000 is Tamara Whitehouse, who will be attending New York University this fall, for her essay, "Morality Without Religious Interference."
Tamara asks: "How could religion be necessary to live a moral life, when more often than not, religion itself is immoral?"
The second place winner is Jonathan Samuelson, who will attend Johns Hopkins University to study computer science and electrical engineering. Jonathan's essay, "Wouldn't It Be Nice?" asks: "Why should it be impossible for humans to create a system of ethics?" He received a $1,000 cash scholarship.
A three-way tie for third place brought $500 honors to: Emily R. Trauenicht for her essay, "Critical Thinking: The Foundation of Morality;" Olga Galchenko for "Thou Shalt Not Confuse Religion with Morality," and Amy Ionadi, "Religion: an Unnecessary and Contradictory Ingredient in Morality."
Emily has been a student in the International Baccalaureate Program for four years, and wants to specialize in opthalmology after attending the University of Virginia. Olga is a world champion juggler who first broke a juggling world record at age 12 and has been featured in TIME and The Today Show. She will be attending Moorpark College in California. Amy will be studying film and digital media at a Pennsylvania college.
In addition, the Foundation awarded four optional $100 honorable mentions to: Dae Smith, attending Parsons, the New School of Design, New York City; Romela E. Petrosyan, attending University of California at Irvine; Sarah Wells, attending the University of Delaware; and Mahesh Murali, attending the University of Pennsylvania.
The first- and second-place college essays, along with Emily Trauenicht's third-place essay, are published in the August issue of Freethought Today. Amy and Olga's third-place tieing essays will appear in the September issue, and the honorable mentions throughout the school year.
The guidelines for the 2008 college-bound high-school senior essay will be posted in February 2008 here.
"We are pleased, thanks to the generosity of our members, to be able to offer some assistance to freethinking students. Religious scholarships are rife and so few reward independent thought," said Dan Barker, Foundation co-president.
"We thank all the students who entered this year's competition, and wish them the best of luck in their college careers and future endeavors," added Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor.
The Foundation is in the midst of notifying all eligible non-winning students who entered the high school competition. Non-winning entrants are given a choice of a school-year subscription to Freethought Today, or a complimentary book. The winners of the competition for ongoing college students has not yet been announced."