FFRF announces its essay contests for 2020

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has announced its four 2020 essay competitions for freethinking students — offering more than $60,000 in total scholarships.

Each of the four contests has 10 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. To encourage student activism, Florida FFRF members Dean and Dorea Schramm are providing a $100 bonus to any winner who’s a secular student club member.

The contests cater to students in different age/class ranges.

William J. Schulz Memorial Essay Contest for College-Bound High School Seniors: High school seniors graduating this spring and attending college in the fall are asked to write about: “Why I’m an unabashed atheist/agnostic/choose your favorite appellation.” Write a persuasive, personal (“first person”) essay about why you reject religion and think others would be better off doing so too. You may wish to include experiences or challenges you have faced as a young freethinker. Word limit: 300–350 words. Deadline: June 1.

Michael Hakeem Memorial Essay Contest for Freethinking College Students: Currently enrolled college students (up to age 24) may write on: “The Necessity of Freethought — Why I Am Not Religious.” Although we are asking for a personal essay (written in “first person”) about why you reject religion, you may also wish to approach this from a philosophical or social science point of view. You may additionally include personal experiences or challenges you have faced as a young freethinker (atheist, agnostic). Word limit: 450–650. Deadline: July 1.

The David Hudak Memorial Contest for College Students of Color: Students of color ages 17–21 (college-bound high school seniors to currently enrolled college students), may write on the topic of: “Living and Thriving Without Religion.” Write a personal essay (in the “first person”) about why you are not religious and its benefits. Please be sure to explain why you reject religion. You may wish to include challenges you have faced in being nonreligious. You may also wish to include recommendations on how the secular community can better engage people of color. This contest is offered to provide support and acknowledgment for freethinking students of color, as a minority within a minority. The other FFRF student contests are open to all students. Students may only enter one FFRF contest annually. Word limit: 400–600. Deadline: July 15.

Brian Bolton Essay Contest for Graduate/“Older” Students: Graduate students (through age 30) and “older” undergrads (ages 25–30) are asked to write on the topic: “Why God has no place in political debate; the growing dangers of Christian Nationalism.” In the context of this year’s presidential and congressional elections, make the case for keeping “God” and religion out of the political debates, and the dangers posed when public officials pander and mix religion with government. Word limit: 550–750. Deadline: Aug. 1.

FFRF thanks Phil Zuckerman, author and professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College, for suggesting the topics for the college and grad school competitions.

Additional prompts on the topics and contest rule requirements can be found at: ffrf.org/studentessay. Students are required to submit their essay via the online application, and should carefully review all contest rules. All eligible entrants will receive a digital year-long student membership in FFRF.

FFRF is appreciative of FFRF members who make the effort to contact local high schools, colleges and universities to help publicize its competitions. (See “ads” on the back inside

Essay contests

cover of the Freethought Today wrap that may be copied or cut out and sent to your local schools.) Or pass on the link: ffrf.org/studentessay.