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Scholarships and Essay Contests for Secular Students


Every year, the Secular Student Alliance and other like minded organizations offer scholarships to students. Check here frequently to see what's being offered.

Americans United Student Essay Contest On Church-State Separation

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has launched its second annual essay contest that invites high school students to address church-state separation issues that frequently occur in public schools.

The 2017 essay contest asks high school juniors and seniors to write about a potential violation involving the teaching of religious-based curricula in public schools; mandating public school students to attend assemblies with religious content or prayers; discriminating against students based on religion; or using religion to discriminate against LGBTQ students.

The Scholarship

Qualified applicants must write a 750-1,200 word essay on one of the following topics, and explain why this violation encroaches upon the constitutional principle of church-state separation, and how you would solve this problem if it occurred (or has already occurred) in your school:

  • Teaching religiously-based curricula in public schools, which includes inaccurate versions of history based on religious teachings, creationism and climate change denial, and abstinence-only sex education.
  • Mandating students who attend public schools to also attend assemblies with religious content or to pray.
  • Discriminating against students based on the religion they practice or their choice not to practice.
  • Using religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBTQ students.

Applicants are encouraged to reference current events, U.S. history, personal experiences, AU.org, protectthyneighbor.org, or primary sources in your response. Essays should be proofread, observe the rules for standard english usage, be well researched with convinving arguments supported by specific examples and be an articulate, creative, and tightly focused response that demonstrates a genuine grappling with the topic.

The top essay writer will be awarded $1,500 and the essay will be published in AU’s monthly Church & State magazine. The second- and third-place essays also will receive cash prizes. The deadline for submissions is April 15. Submissions must be done through the essay contest webpage.

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