Submissions are now being ac­cepted for Americans United’s an­nual Student Essay Contest.

The contest is open to high school juniors and seniors. The deadline for submission is 11:59 p.m. ET April 19, 2021.

This year, students are being asked to address the following topic: How would the Do No Harm Act im­pact church-state separation and the real lives of people in the United States?

The Do No Harm Act is designed to restore the 1993 Religious Free­dom Restoration Act (RFRA) to its original intent to protect religious freedom, especially for religious minorities, while clarifying that it cannot be used to discriminate. RFRA is now being misused to harm others; for example, the Trump ad­ministration directed that organi­zations may use RFRA to discrim­inate in employment for jobs funded by taxpayer dollars.

The Do No Harm Act will make sure that RFRA cannot be used to harm people, particularly LGBTQ people, religious minorities, women and others, by undermining non­dis­crim­ination laws, circumven­ting child­ labor laws, refusing to per­form job-required tasks as a gov­ern­ment employee, denying access to health care, overriding workplace laws and refusing to provide con­tract-man­dated government-fund­ed services.

Students who wish to enter should keep in mind the following:

The contest is open to high school juniors and seniors in the Uni­­ted States including the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.

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

Writing should be clear, creative and properly proofread; demon­strate genuine grappling with the topic; and be the student’s original writing.

Submissions should make per­sua­sive arguments supported by specific examples and/or properly cited sources where appropriate. Essays may reference personal ex­periences, current events, legal cases, U.S. history, primary sources and information from

Information about how to submit can be found at ­contest.

The first-place winner will receive $1,500, and the essay will be printed on AU’s website and in Church & State. The second- and third-place winners will receive $1,000 and $500, respectively, and both essays will be printed on AU’s website.


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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