Essay scholarship contest focuses on religious diversity, ‘Christian nation’ claims

WASHINGTON— High school juniors and seniors can win up to $2,000 for college in the 2013 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest sponsored by the Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee. Essays must examine religious diversity in America and evaluate the claim that the United States was founded as a “Christian nation.”

For the 8th annual contest, the scholarship money doubled for the top two prizes. Grand prize is $2,000 and airfare and lodging for two to Washington, D.C. Second prize is $1,000, and third prize is $250.

High school students in the graduating classes of 2013 and 2014 can enter by writing an essay addressing the following topic:

The United States of America was religiously diverse at its founding. Its population included numerous Protestant groups, small Catholic and Jewish populations, those who practiced traditional Native American religions as well as those who practiced African religions. The United States has become even more religiously diverse, yet Christianity has remained the majority faith tradition since the country’s beginnings. Today, some Americans assert that the country was founded as a “Christian nation” while others contend that statement is a myth. Using the Constitution and writings of the Founders, research and evaluate the claim that the United States was founded as a “Christian nation.” Include a discussion of the current implications for religious freedom for all people in a democratic country in which the majority rules in elections and ballot initiatives.

Essays must be between 800-1,200 words, and they must be mailed – along with registration forms – and postmarked by March 1, 2013, to be eligible. Contest forms and details are available online at www.BJConline.org/contest.

Winners will be announced in the summer of 2013, and the grand prize winner will be recognized at the BJC board meeting in Washington, D.C., in October 2013.

Essays will be judged on the depth of their content, the mastery of the topic, and the skill with which they are written. Students should develop a point of view on the issue and demonstrate critical thinking, using appropriate examples, reasons and other evidence to support their position.

Visit www.BJConline.org/contest for complete contest rules. If you have questions, contact Cherilyn Crowe at 202-544-4226 or by email at ccrowe@BJConline.org.

 

The Baptist Joint Committee is a 76-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based religious liberty organization that works to defend and extend God-given religious liberty for all, bringing a uniquely Baptist witness to the principle that religion must be freely exercised, neither advanced nor inhibited by government.

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