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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Honorable mentions — 2022 David Hudak essay contest for BIPOC

Here are snippets from those essays that earned honorable mention status.

“Religion often serves as a gateway to create an exploitative tool that systematically oppresses others.”

Christopher Rodriguez, 20, is from College Station, Texas, attends Texas A&M University and is majoring in electrical engineering.

“The nonreligious, including humanists and agnostics, do not preach for a world of duplicity and iniquity. Instead, they highlight the virtues of ethics, accountability, and curiosity as human nature.” 

Alexandria Calloway, 18, is from Davie, Fla., and attends Duke University with plans to major in biochemistry or chemistry with a minor in global health or mathematics.

“I am a black queer woman and religion has never served people like me throughout history. . . . Nonreligiousness does not exclude people or shame people for who they are; it accepts people as they are. This is the type of mantra I’d rather live by.” 

Jordyn Jones, 20, is from Suwanee, Ga., attends Kennesaw State University and is double majoring in in computer science and psychology.

“I have often heard phrases alluding to the testament that ‘God will provide.’ I find that statement to be contradictory to the American ideal that a person must be self-made and work diligently toward their goals.”

Elayna Kash, 19, is from Flint, Mich., attends the University of Michigan and is majoring in linguistics with a Minor in Crime and Justice. 

“There is no innate good in belief, and there is no innate evil in disbelief. Instead, there are only people, and personally I see my nonbelief as a foundation for being a better person.” 

Tenaya Coward, 19, is from Las Vegas, attends Portland State University and plans to major in applied linguistics and minor in psychology.

“Religion breeds ignorance; and ignorance gives birth to bigotry.” 

Dystanee Foy, 18, is from Denver, attends the University of Denver with plans to major in psychology before going to medical school.

“Many nontheists that are charitable do it out of compassion for others, compared to many religious folk in which their charitableness more comes from ‘doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.’” 

Mary Membreno, 19, is from Goodview, Va., attends Roanoke College and plans to major in biochemistry.

“While not all religious people are bigoted or prejudiced, only religion gives you the impression that your prejudice is moral or righteous.”

Daniel Ogunwale, 18, is from Brooklyn, N.Y., and attends Swarthmore College.

“Not having a religion to guide your beliefs means that you have to be self-motivated to find the answers you are looking for. A nontheist individual can be deemed as genuine, as they are not clouded by religious claims that are often advertised to be set in stone.”

Vanessa Bien-Aime, 19, is from Germantown, Md., attends the University of Maryland with plan to major in Romance languages and international relations.

“Religion provides people with a basis for their moral code, but it also cements those morals in a way that cannot evolve over time.” 

Amani Turner, 17, is from Houston, attends University of Texas – Austin with plans to major in theater and linguistics.

“Many faith-based systems are abhorrent to my morality because they impose a flawed interpretation of our vacation from nonexistence; this allows us to waste it on illusions of an afterlife or creator.”

Liam Wisner, 18, is from Bartlesville, Okla., attends Oklahoma State University with plans to major in finance and accounting.

“I can stand up for myself and what I believe in, instead of being scared of getting sent to hell or ridiculed by those who call themselves loving because they have faith.” 

Austin De Nijs, 18, is from Dublin, Va., and attends the Savannah College of Art and Design.

“I’ve seen first-hand how religious people can be abhorrent human beings, and that is why I now believe that being agnostic or a ‘nonbeliever’ does not equate to being an immoral person.” 

Landsay Franckoer, 19, is from Egg Harbor Township, N.J., attends Stockton University and is majoring in economics.

“When complimented on my grades, great interpersonal relationships, and loyalty to my community I would feel pride in myself instead of attributing this to my religious upbringing. What did my grades have to do with  God?” 

Whisper Johnson, 21, is from Massillon, Ohio, attends Bowling Green State University and is majoring in criminal justice.

“Nonreligion isn’t a ticket to hell; in fact, it inspires people to believe and improve in themselves to become better persons.

Tiffany Lin, 18, is from Gaston, S.C., attends the University of Michigan with plans to major in nursing.

“I truly believe that the best way a person can express love for others is not through being motivated by the will of a god, but by being motivated in making this world a better place.”

Zyon Loiseau, 18, is from Skokie, Ill., and attends University of Wisconsin.

“When those who do not worship do something for the benefit of another, it is genuine. It is not performative or to cover up the evil doings of their past.”

Jordan Wilson, 18, is from Dallas and attends the University of California Santa Cruz.

“Being an atheist, acutely aware of Christianity’s impact on our world, has allowed me to consciously and intentionally create my own morals. I have control over how I want to navigate this oppressive, hypocritical, capitalistic, but also beautiful, exciting and joyous world.” 

Anika Becker, 20, is from Portland, Ore., attends the University of San Francisco and is majoring in critical diversity studies.