The Third Prize winner is Luke Cummings.
Biography: I was born in Philadelphia and baptized into the Presbyterian Church at an early age by the late James Montgomery Boice. My parents instilled in me both a love for God's Word and a healthy curiosity about the origins of my faith. From the age of six up until I turned fourteen, my faith was grown and tested as I lived overseas in a number of places. I first moved abroad in 2003, when my family relocated from Baltimore, Maryland to Ankara, Turkey. While my parents worked as medical volunteers, I attended Turkish elementary school. From Turkey we moved to Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, where I lived up until the end of middle school. Living abroad and moving quite often, I was exposed to many different religions and denominations of Christianity. This encouraged me to constantly question and qualify my Christian beliefs, a practice that has been integral to my spiritual health.
I returned to the US in 2010 to attend high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was there that I was first exposed to a formal academic evaluation of my Christian faith in my church's confirmation class. Through reading John Stott's Basic Christianity, I became intrigued in intellectually evaluating Christianity, which is what sparked my interest in this scholarship. What Is the Christian Life? was my first Gordon Clark book, and I eagerly anticipate reading more of his works.
Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest
Students can win up to $2,000 for college by writing an essay discussing whether public school calendars should accommodate religious holidays in the 2018 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest. To enter, students must write an 800-1,200 word essay responding to the following prompt:
In most public high schools, certain days are marked as religious holidays on the school calendar, and the schools are closed on those days. As public schools become more diverse, some students’ religious holy day(s) are not days that the schools are closed, resulting in absences for those students.
In an essay, discuss whether public school calendars should accommodate religious holidays.
Consider how school administrators should determine if, or which, religious holy days are included in the school calendar, or if any school policies should be changed to better accommodate students’ religious exercise. Be sure your essay identifies how the First Amendment supports your position.
Click here to download and print the 2018 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest entry forms
Students should develop a point of view, demonstrate critical thinking and use appropriate examples, arguments and other evidence to support their position. Any high school student graduating in 2018 or 2019 is eligible to enter the contest. There is no religious requirement. Entries must be mailed and postmarked by March 9, 2018.
The grand prize is a $2,000 scholarship and a trip for two to Washington, D.C. Prizes of $1,000 for the second place winner and $500 for the third place winner are also available. Winners will be announced by the end of summer 2018.
The annual Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest engages high school students in church-state issues by directing them to express a point of view on a religious liberty topic. Essays are 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. The annual contest is sponsored by the Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee.
For questions on the 2018 essay contest, read these FAQs or contact Charles Watson Jr. at cwatson@BJConline.org or call 202-544-4226.