Thank you to all the students who entered our 2019 Student Essay Contest!

We are no longer accepting entries.
Stay tuned for the announcement of the winners!


The Religious Right is increasing its efforts to use religion as a sword to harm others rather than as a shield to protect people. This regressive political agenda seeks to misuse religious freedom to justify discrimination against the LGBTQ community, women, religious minorities and the nonreligious. What can the next generation do to counter these attacks and take action to protect the real meaning of religious freedom and prevent our country from moving backward?

Some ways in which we see religion being used to harm others include:

  • Policies that allow taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies to reject prospective parents and volunteers because they are LGBTQ or the “wrong” religion.

  • Legislative efforts to promote Christianity in public schools by posting “In God We Trust” in schools or establishing Bible classes.

  • Policies that allow health care workers to deny care to patients based on religious or moral objections, and allow employers and universities to use religion to deny employees and students access to birth control.

Student essays can reference current events, U.S. history, primary sources, personal experiences and information from and Protect Thy Neighbor,


  • First place: $1,500 and essay will be printed in AU’s monthly Church & State magazine

  • Second place: $,1000

  • Third Place: $500

Deadline: May 1, 2019


  • The contest is open to high school juniors and seniors in the United States.

  • The essay length should be between 750 and 1,000 words.

  • Essays should be well-written, well-researched and should be the student’s original writing, supported by specific examples and/or sources.

  • Employees and board members of Americans United, and members of their families, are not eligible to participate.

Read the 2018 Essay Contest winners here!