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, mastery of the topic and the skill with which they are written. 

The deadline to enter the 2022 contest has passed. Return to this page in the future to see the winners. 

“I entered because it seemed like a very special type of scholarship. Most are more about what you are going to do with the money and more basic questions. This one asked something that sort of related to me, and I felt like I could share my voice and opinion.”

Yusra Ahmed
2017 Essay Contest Winner

2021 Winners

Religious Liberty Essay Contest

Grand prize winner: 
Grace C. Karanick
Anaheim, California 

Essay title: “My Mother’s Dilemma: Religious Leader, Elected Official, and Separation of Church and State”

Religious Liberty Essay Contest

2nd prize:

Elijah Arias
Carlsbad, Texas

Essay title: “Leaders for Liberty”

Religious Liberty Essay Contest

3rd prize:

Ella Stone
Lewisville, Texas

Essay Title:  “From the Pulpit to Public Office”

Previous Contest Winners

Religious Liberty Essay Contest

“The word ‘we’ in ‘In God We Trust’ implicates all members of the school. A student’s logical conclusion when adults post such a message is that they must participate in this mutual faith in God to remain in their community, a reasonable feeling of coercion. … If students don’t ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,’ why should they lose their freedom of religion?”

Lorelei Loraine / 2020 Grand Prize

Religious Liberty Essay Contest

“To keep the political process in the United States as effective as possible, it is vital that the Johnson Amendment be protected in American law. As religious leaders promote the idea that politics and partisanship are not the same, it is my hope that young people become inspired to get involved in the political process …”

Natalia Barber / 2019 Grand Prize

Religious Liberty Essay Contest

“I like political science…. I also really like writing, so this essay contest is just perfect, tying everything that I like together…. I think it’s really wonderful that the Baptist tradition has a long history of supporting religious liberty and church-state separation…”

Lauralyn Lin / 2018 Grand Prize

Religious Liberty Essay Contest

“A religious test whose result determines eligibility for immigrants and refugees places irrational fear over compassion, the very same irrational fear I faced that day when I wore the hijab out with my sisters.”

Yusra Ahmed / 2017 Grand Prize

Religious Liberty Essay Contest

“One specific topic that is currently in the headlines is the right of government officials to opt out of certain job duties when those job duties conflict with their religious beliefs.”

Alyssa Bragg / 2016 Grand Prize

Religious Liberty Essay Contest

“Balance is key to keeping our country a free society: between private practices and public interaction, between private business and individual rights.”

Zoe Almeida / 2015 Grand Prize