2019 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest

To enter the 2019 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest, eligible students must write an essay of 800-1,200 words in response to the following:  

Houses of worship play an important role in American culture, often addressing issues of public concern. The current tax code permits 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits, including houses of worship, to be political but not partisan. These religious and secular charitable organizations enjoy favored tax-exempt status and may engage in advocacy to address any moral and/or political issues. They may not, however, tell people who to vote for or against. President Donald Trump supports eliminating what is referred to as the “Johnson Amendment,” but most people of faith support the current law.

In an essay, share whether you think the “Johnson Amendment” should remain.

Your essay should review why we have the “Johnson Amendment” in our current law and how it affects houses of worship, religious organizations and other charitable nonprofits.

The contest is open to all high school juniors and seniors, and there are no religious requirements. Essays must be postmarked by March 8, 2019 to be considered. Click here for forms and additional details. 

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. The annual contest is sponsored by the Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee.


Essay Contest forms and flyer

Click here for a PDF of the entry form
and detailed instructions.

Click here to download a flyer.

What is the BJC?

Watch our introductory video and follow us on social media:

Previous Contest Results


Since 2006, the annual essay contest has engaged high school students in church-state issues. To read excerpts from winning essays, view the archived issues of Report from the Capital

Winning entries from recent years are listed below.

2017: Yusra Ahmed (Also: Listen to the podcast of her conversation with Charles Watson Jr.)

2016: Alyssa Bragg

2015: Zoe Almeida

2014: Daniel Ingham

2013: Christian Belanger

Watch Previous Winners Read Their Essays