The Freedom From Religion Foundation is announcing its four award-laden student essay contests for 2018.
“We consider our essay competitions to encourage and reward young freethinkers to be one of FFRF’s most important forms of outreach,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
Each of the four contests now offers seven prizes: First place — $3,000; second place — $2,000; third place — $1,000; fourth place — $750; fifth place — $600; sixth place — $500; seventh place — $400. FFRF offers optional honorable mentions of $200. To encourage student activism, Florida FFRF members Dean and Dorea Schramm offer a $100 bonus to any winner who’s a secular student club member.
This year, all eligible entrants will not only receive a digital student membership for FFRF, but a freethinking T-shirt. Students must fill out an online application and upload their essays in PDF format at ffrf.org/studentessay, which contains more details on the topic, prompt and requirements.
College-bound high school senior contest: High school seniors going on to college in the fall will write on the topic: “Why I believe ‘They who live on love and laughter never mess around with the hereafter.’” This rhyme by lyricist Yip (“Over the Rainbow”) Harburg appears on the free T-shirt offered all student entrants. Seniors entering the William J. Schulz High School Contest should address why this world matters and why they reject religion and its promise of an afterlife. Word limit: 300-350 words. Deadline: June 1.
Ongoing college contest: Currently enrolled college students (up to age 24) entering the Michael Hakeem Memorial Contest will write on: “Why I’m an unabashed nontheist, not afraid of burning in hell.” Include why you are an atheist or nonbeliever and address challenges of being a young freethinker in your family or community. Word limit: 450-650. Deadline: July 1.
College Students of Color contest: The David Hudak Memorial Contest for College Students of Color (up to age 24) is on the topic of “Why, as a student of color, I reject religion.” Tell us why you reject religion and what challenges that creates from your family, community and as a minority within a minority. Word limit: 450-650. (College students may only enter one contest.) Deadline: July 1.
Grad/“Older” Students contest: Graduate students (through age 30) and “older” undergrads (ages 25-30) entering the Brian Bolton Graduate/“Older” Contest are asked to write on “The danger of bibliolatry [worship of the bible] in the United States.” Why do bible teachings make bad policy and how can we fight back against campaigns to insert the bible and its dogma in schools, laws and policies? Word limit: 550-750. Deadline: July 15.
Students are required, via the online application, to provide a paragraph bio, age, contact information and intended majors, and college or university attended in North America. By entering the competition, they agree to allow FFRF to publish or excerpt their winning essay in FFRF’s newspaper, Freethought Today, and its website, and to provide a photograph. Students should carefully review all contest rules at ffrf.org/studentessay.
FFRF is appreciative of members who make the effort to contact local high schools, colleges and universities to help publicize its competitions.