Americans United Essay Contest

Americans United for Separation of Church and State hope that the stories of young activists give other students the courage to recognize church-state violations and do something about them. In light of this, AU is pleased to announce the launch of their second annual high school student essay contest. For the topic of this year, they are focusing on the church-state separation violations that frequently occur in American high schools and how students might solve them. $1500, $1000 and $500 will be given to the winning candidates.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a nonpartisan educational organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.


  • This contest is open to all United States high school juniors and seniors
  • Employees and board members of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and members of their families are not eligible to participate

How to Apply:

  • Choose one of the following church-state separation violations that frequently occur in U.S. public high schools:
  1. 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.
  2. Mandating students who attend public schools to also attend assemblies with religious content or to pray.
  3. Discriminating against students based on the religion they practice or their choice not to practice.
  4. Using religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBTQ students.

Essay Guidelines:

  • 750-1,200 Words
  • Adherence to guidelines and carefully proofread
  • Articulate, creative, and tightly focused response that demonstrates a genuine grappling with the topic
  • Observation of rules for Standard English usage (grammar, punctuation, and mechanics) in writing
  • Well-researched with convincing arguments supported by specific examples

Financial Aid and Award Money:

The three winners will be awarded cash prizes, and the winning essay will be published in Church & State

  • First Place: $1,500
  • Second Place: $1,000
  • Third Place: $500

Application Deadline:

The deadline for essay contest is April 15, 2017.

Link for More Information:

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