VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/21/11)—American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) encourages entries to the 2012 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest, sponsored by the Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee (BJC). Entries are now being accepted by the BJC. Grand prize is $1,000 and a trip for two to Washington, D.C.; second prize is $500; and third prize is $100.
The contest is open to all high school juniors and seniors in the graduating classes of 2012 and 2013. No requirements or restrictions involve a student’s grade-point average, faith or extracurricular activities.
A qualifying essay is 800-1,200 words (12-point type, double-spaced) examining the role religion should play in a presidential campaign. The following questions can be considered: Is it fair that religious beliefs and affiliations of presidential candidates often become campaign issues? Should presidential candidates talk about their religious beliefs? Should candidates be required to answer certain religion-related questions?
Entries will be judged on content depth, topic mastery and skill with which they are written. A student should demonstrate critical thinking, developing a point of view on the issue and offering evidence to support it. Sources―such as the U.S. Constitution and news articles―must be used and cited in the essay. Essays should be clear, concise, well-organized and free of grammatical errors. Judges reserve the right to reduce the number of awards if not enough deserving entries meet the requirements.
A teacher or counselor at the student’s school or on staff at the student’s church must ensure that an essay is a student’s original work and that it meets all requirements. The adviser cannot be the student’s parent, unless the parent homeschools the student. An adviser may work with more than one student, but each submitted essay must be accompanied by its own adviser form.
No e-mail entries will be accepted. Essays must be postmarked by March 15, 2012, and mailed to Baptist Joint Committee Essay Contest, 200 Maryland Ave. N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002.
Winners will be announced in summer 2012. After winners are selected, the BJC will contact all entrants by e-mail or postal mail. The first-place winner and a parent or guardian will receive airfare to and one night of lodging in Washington, D.C., where the student will present the winning essay at the October 2012 BJC board meeting.
ABHMS—the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA—ministers as the caring heart and serving hands of Jesus Christ across the United States and Puerto Rico through a multitude of initiatives that focus on discipleship, community and justice.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.