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BJC essay contest to explore tension between job duties, personal belief – Baptist News Global

      • Should elected officials be able to opt out of certain job duties because of their personal religious beliefs? How far should government go to accommodate elected or appointed government officials who object to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as a matter of religious conviction?

        High school juniors and seniors can win up to $2,000 by proposing solutions that address the rights of all parties in the 2016 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest sponsored by the Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

        Established in 2006 to engage high school juniors and seniors in church-state issues, the essay contest is one of two annual events — along with a luncheon coinciding with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly — sponsored by the individual donor organization formed after the Southern Baptist Convention defunded the education and advocacy agency supported by 15 U.S. Baptist bodies in 1991.

        The first year 17 students from 14 different states submitted essays on an assigned topic, “Why the separation of church and state is necessary to ensure religious liberty for all.

  • ” They hailed from churches affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Alliance of Baptists, American Baptist Churches U.S.A., National Baptist Convention U.S.A., and the Southern Baptist Convention.

    The first grand prize winner, James Gorsuch of Arden, N.C., was then a rising freshman at Elon University. Today he is an attorney at law in Greensboro, N.C., active in his local church.

    Last year nearly 500 students from 44 states and the District of Columbia entered the contest, as well as students from Italy and Puerto Rico.

    One of the most essential and demanding subjects for a potential high school graduate is English. Along with mathematics, English is the most important subject anyone can sit in the BJC and BGCSE exams. Colleges and employers both want to know that you’ve taken it and actually done well. So, whether you intend to continue your education or go immediately into the working world, English, like a lofty mountain will be there waiting patiently for you to conquer it.

    Zoe Almeida of San Antonio, Texas, took the grand prize with an essay “Balancing Act: On Compromise Between Businesses and Workers,” discussing the court case EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch involving a woman denied a job for wearing a Muslim head covering to her interview.
    When given the opportunity go to the theatre, watch Shakespeare plays or live presentations of the classics. Or get involved in school dramatized plays where students become the character and have a vivid experience for themselves.

    This year students graduating high school in 2016 and 2017 will compete with essays examining conflicts that arise when the personal religious beliefs of elected or government-appointed officials clash with their job duties.

    There are so many forms of writing students have to show skills in. Examples include narrative writing and persuasive writing (you must be a person with gusto, passion or feel strongly about a thing). Poetry is one of the most difficult forms of writing, yet many of the students here in the Bahamas are good at it. It’s musical and the two skills support each other. Many students are very poetic, can recite poetry very well and can easily develop another stanza for a poem they are working on. Poetry makes them come alive. They are very musical, oral and poetic in this style. So, if a student can find his/her niche, and what is their favorite style of writing that would help.

    The grand prize is $2,000 and a trip for two to Washington, D.C. Second prize is $1,000, and third prize is $250.

    In essays between 800 and 1,200 words, they must address the following:

    • At times, an elected or government-appointed official may encounter a conflict between his or her job requirements and a personal religious belief. For example, a county clerk may not want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of his or her religious view of marriage.

    If there is a word in the question, you can tell the meaning of the word by looking at the parts of speech for that word. For example the word “vivid” is an adjective, so to find the meaning you need another adjective. You can’t have a verb meaning for an adjective.

    Similarly, a clerk who is a pacifist may object to issuing a gun license based on his or her religious belief.

    • Should an elected official be able to opt out of certain job duties? How far should government go to accommodate elected or appointed government officials who have religious objections to certain job requirements?

    • Write an essay in which you discuss both the rights and responsibilities of the official and of the individual(s) applying for the license. In what way does your solution affect all parties involved?

    Entries must be mailed to the Baptist Joint Committee and postmarked by March 4, 2016, to be eligible.

    Winners will be announced by the end of summer 2016, and the grand prize winner will be recognized at the BJC board meeting in Washington, D.C., in October 2016.

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