FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cherilyn Crowe    202-544-4226      ccrowe@BJConline.org

WASHINGTON— High school juniors and seniors can win up to $2,000 for college in the 2017 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest, sponsored by the Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee. Essays must explore the idea of using religious tests as part of the United States’ immigration and refugee policies. 

Each year, the contest engages high school students in church-state issues by directing them to express a point of view on a religious liberty topic. The grand prize is $2,000 and a trip for two to Washington, D.C. Second prize is $1,000, and third prize is $500.

All high school students in the graduating classes of 2017 and 2018 are eligible to enter the contest. To do so, they must write an essay between 800-1,200 words on the following topic: 

The United States, along with many other countries, gives safe haven to refugees of war-torn countries. Many factors are taken into account when determining who is allowed to enter our borders. During the 2016 presidential campaign, there was discussion around the idea of denying entrance to some immigrants and refugees based on their religion.

 In an essay, discuss whether a religious test should be conducted as a part of the United States’ immigration and refugee policies.

Explore the intersection, if any, between the proposed test and the two religion clauses in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Be sure to identify the implications for religious liberty of all citizens in your answer.

Entries must be mailed to the Baptist Joint Committee and postmarked by March 10, 2017, to be eligible.

Winners will be announced by the end of summer 2017, and the grand prize winner will be recognized at the BJC board meeting in Washington, D.C., in October 2017.

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, arguments and other evidence to support their position.

Visit BJConline.org/contest for complete contest rules and entry forms. If you have questions, contact Charles Watson Jr. at 202-544-4226 or by email at cwatson@BJConline.org.

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The Baptist Joint Committee is an 80-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.