General CBF

Know any young Baptist essayists?

Our friends at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty asked me to help spread the word about their annual essay contest. Check out last year’s winning entry by Amy Blankenship.

Scholarship contest asks students to revisit JFK speech on separation of church and state 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                          

Contact: Cherilyn Crowe, 202-544-4226,,  Jeff Huett, 202-54404226,

WASHINGTON—The Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee announces the 5th annual Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest, which is open to all high school students in the graduating classes of 2010 and 2011. This year’s contest will commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s landmark speech about the relationship between his religion and his politics and the separation of church and state.

The scholarship contest offers a grand prize of $1,000 and airfare and lodging for two to Washington, D.C. Second prize is $500, and third prize is $100.

 Students enter the scholarship contest by writing an essay addressing the following topic:

The year 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of presidential nominee John F. Kennedy’s landmark speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association about the relationship between his religion and his politics. On September 12, 1960, the Roman Catholic politician spoke to the group of Protestant ministers about his religion and the way it would – and would not – affect his decisions as president. In an essay, discuss whether you think Kennedy was correct in advocating an absolute separation of church and state. Also, discuss the implications of his speech and how the principles he laid out are – or are not – followed by politicians and other leaders 50 years later.

 More on the topic and links to the complete text and video of the speech are available online at The Web site also has all of the requirements and necessary forms available for download. All entries must be postmarked by March 1, 2010.

Winners will be announced in the summer of 2010, and the grand prize winner’s essay will be featured in the BJC’s flagship publication, Report from the Capital.  The winner will also be recognized at the BJC board meeting in Washington, D.C., in October 2010.

Essays will be judged on the depth of their content, the mastery of the topic, and the skill with which they are written. Students should develop a point of view on the issue and demonstrate critical thinking, using appropriate examples, reasons and other evidence to support their position.

Visit for more information on the topic and contest rules. If you have questions, contact Cherilyn Crowe at 202-544-4226 or by e-mail at

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