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FFRF 2023 Student Scholarship Essay Contests

FFRF Student Essay Contests 2023

Each of these contests has 10 top prizes: First place — $3,500; second place — $3,000; third place — $2,500; fourth place — $2,000; fifth place — $1,500; sixth place — $1,000; seventh place — $750; eighth place — $500; ninth place — $400; and 10th place — $300. FFRF also offers optional honorable mentions of $200.

*Please note that all essay contests are now closed. Check back this Winter for our 2024 essay contests.

2023 WILLIAM J. SCHULZ MEMORIAL ESSAY CONTEST FOR FREETHINKING COLLEGE-BOUND HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: “Why I’m Proudly a Gen Z ‘None’”

PROMPT: At least 48 percent of Gen Z identifies as religiously unaffiliated, with 17 percent identifying specifically as atheist or agnostic. You are part of the least religious generation in U.S. history! Describe your experiences growing up or becoming a “None,” explain why you reject religion, and how the growth of the unaffiliated in the United States is a positive development for progress.

CLOSED: This contest has closed. Winners will be notified in late August/early September 2023. Thank you to all who participated.

2023 DAVID HUDAK MEMORIAL ESSAY CONTEST FOR FREETHINKING BLACK, INDIGENOUS AND STUDENTS OF COLOR

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: "Glad to be godless"

PROMPT: Please write a first-person essay explaining your personal journey to becoming a nonbeliever (or about your experiences as a lifelong nonbeliever), including any challenges you’ve faced and why you’re “glad to be godless.” Discuss the personal advantage to individuals to be free from religion. You may wish to analyze how the use of reason over faith can also be an advantage for BIPOC communities and for social policies.

CLOSED: This contest has closed. Winners will be notified in late August/early September 2023. Thank you to all who participated.

2023 KENNETH L. PROULX MEMORIAL ESSAY CONTEST FOR FREETHINKING ONGOING COLLEGE STUDENTS

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: “What I would tell Marjorie Taylor Greene about the harm of Christian nationalism”

PROMPT: Greene became the first member of Congress to identify as a “Christian nationalist,” and has openly urged her party to become the “party of Christian nationalism.” Write a rebuttal of Christian nationalism in the form of a letter addressed to Rep. Greene. Explain why her espousal of Christian nationalism as an elected official is antithetical to secular American principles. Please include at least a brief definition of what Christian nationalism is and how it jeopardizes you as a nonbeliever and other nonbelievers and non-Christians. Please do not write a partisan or political essay, but rather make the case against Christian nationalism.

CLOSED: This contest has closed. Winners will be notified in late August/early September 2023. Thank you to all who participated.

2023 CORNELIUS VANDER BROEK MEMORIAL ESSAY CONTEST FOR FREETHINKING GRADUATE/"OLDER" STUDENTS (TO AGE 30)

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: "Is secularism the 'savior' of American democracy?"

PROMPT: Is the fate of U.S. democracy becoming a face-off between the “Nones” (atheists, agnostics and “nothings in particular”) with their support of secular government, and Christian nationalists? Please include at least a brief definition of what Christian nationalism means. Pick one or two controversies or issues in which Christian nationalists are denying or threatening rights or reforms in America (whether state/church separation, abortion or LGBTQ rights, book banning, voting, vaccination policies, climate change remediation, etc.). Explain how Christian nationalist actions are threatening these rights or reforms (and how you may be personally affected). Then muster your best arguments about how and why the secular movement can take strategic action to defend secular democracy.

CLOSED: This contest has closed. Winners will be notified in late August/early September 2023. Thank you to all who participated.


2023 Diane and Stephen Uhl Essay Competition for Law School Students 

This Year's Topic: Write an essay making the strongest argument possible under the current caselaw that a law banning or restricting abortion should be invalidated based on the religious liberty interests of a potential plaintiff.

Prompt: Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, stakeholders have been urgently working to bring what litigation challenges remain to protect and secure reproductive freedom. While FFRF has argued that abortion bans impermissibly codify a particular religious belief—that life begins at conception—in violation of the Establishment Clause, courts have been unwilling to consider that argument as a means for invalidating laws restricting abortion. However, in light of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, there is renewed interest in arguing Free Exercise rights and/or religious rights protected by state versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a means of invalidating such laws and protecting the rights of people who feel their religion compels them to obtain, perform, or facilitate an abortion.

CLOSED: This contest has closed. Winners will be notified by April 15. Thank you to all who participated.