Government-Supported Religion

Attention, Students: Raise Your Voice Through AU’s Student Essay Contest

  Alicia Johnson

Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court unleashed attack after attack on church-state separation, announcing decisions that deeply undermine our rights to religious freedom, equality, and bodily autonomy.

That’s why this year’s Student Essay Contest invites students to reflect on those decisions and their impact on the country. AU’s annual essay contest is one way we encourage young people to reflect on religious freedom and take action to speak up for church-state separation.

Recent high school graduates from 2022 and students who expect to graduate in 2023 and 2024 are invited to participate by submitting an essay responding to this prompt:

How does one or more of the following Supreme Court decisions relate to church-state separation and religious freedom, and how will it affect people and communities in the United States?

  • Kennedy v. Bremerton School District
  • Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
  • Carson v. Makin

In Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the Supreme Court ruled against the Bremerton, Wash., School District, which was trying to protect public high school students from a coach who violated their religious freedom with his public prayers that students felt pressured to join at the 50-yard line at public high school football games. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Court abolished the constitutional right to abortion. And the decision in Carson v. Makin forces taxpayers to fund religious education.

Church-state separation ensures that everyone is able to live as themselves and believe as they choose, so long as they don’t harm others. Yet the Supreme Court has dealt several blows to religious freedom and equality for all with its decisions this term, overturning decades of established law.

Are you – or do you know – a high school junior or senior who has ideas about the importance of separation of religion and government? We are accepting submissions to the 2022 Student Essay Contest now through Sept. 19.

Visit for more details about the criteria and qualifications for participating in the essay contest. The top three essay writers will receive prizes of $500-$1,500 and have their essays published on AU’s website. The first-place prize winner will also be published in Church & State magazine.

Help us spread the word and share this opportunity with a young person or educator you know today!


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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