Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest

jefferson for essay contest

The annual Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest engages high school students in church-state issues by directing them to express a point of view on a religious liberty topic. Essays are 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. The annual contest is sponsored by the Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee.

Details on the 2018 contest will be released soon. Visit this page and follow the BJC on social media for further updates.

2017 Contest Results

For the 2017 Contest, students were asked to assess whether a religious test should be conducted as a part of the United States’ immigration and refugee policies. The contest and its topic were announced in the fall of 2016. For more on this year’s winners and their essays, click here.

Grand Prize

Yusra Ahmed
Quincy, Massachusetts

“A religious test whose result determines eligibility for immigrants and refugees places irrational fear over compassion.”

-Yusra Ahmed, 2017 Grand Prize Winner

Second Prize

Nicholas Sickels
Lawrence, Kansas

“Any faith-based test … gives the government the power to decide when civil liberties do and do not apply.”

-Nicholas Sickels, Second Place

Third Prize

Margaret Lawrence
Roanoke, Virginia

“It is with apathy that the greatest consequences occur.”

-Margaret Lawrence, Third Place

Previous Contest Results



Since 2006, the annual essay contest has engaged high school students in church-state issues. To see read all winning essays, view the archived October issues of Report from the Capital. Winning entries from recent years are listed below.











Watch Previous Winners Read Their Essays