2018 Essay Contest Winners

We're proud to announce the winners of the 2018 Americans United Essay Contest! High schools juniors and seniors were asked to write about what they believe has been the greatest threat to church-state separation in the past year, and what they and their communities are doing to oppose that threat.

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First Place - $1,500

Rimpal Bajwa
Puyallup, Washington

"The Muslim ban is, in my opinion, the greatest threat to church-state separation not just in the past year but in my entire lifetime...never before have I seen such a rallying cry for undisguised religious discrimination."

Read Rimpal's essay

Rimpal’s essay was published in the July/August 2018 edition of AU’s Church & State magazine alongside an article about Rimpal’s activism, which you can read here.

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Second Place - $1,000

Anastasia Hendricks
Albuquerque, New Mexico

"In every community, children and young adults are undergoing the process of developing their own opinions and I fear that recent efforts to amend laws concerning public education are centered largely around teaching students what to think, rather than how to think, with an unmistakable bias towards Judeo-Christian faiths."

Read Anastasia's essay


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Third Place - $500

Ariel Hall
Shaker Heights, Ohio

"As an African-American and Muslim girl in America, racism causes me to feel as though my life is less valuable than the lives of white citizens around me. The Muslim Ban intensifies this experience by lending government-sanctioned anti-Islamic ideology to a nation already struggling to embrace differences." 

Read Ariel's essay


Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to all of our nearly 600 entrants!