As the grand prize winner, Belanger receives a $2,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Baptist Joint Committee board meeting in October. The son of Gitte and Kenneth Belanger, he is a 2013 graduate of Strath Haven High School and will attend the University of Chicago this fall. Click here to watch Belanger read his winning essay.
Kourtney Kostecki of St. Peters, Mo., earned the second place prize of a $1,000 scholarship. In her essay, titled “Not Foundation, Influence,” Kostecki wrote, “Many of the Founders were practicing Christians, so the fact that Christian principles had an impact on the nation only makes sense. These statements and facts are not evidence of Christian foundation, but rather Christian influence.” The daughter of Karin and Kurt Kostecki, she is a 2013 graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy and will attend Iowa State University in the fall.
The third place winner is Katie Hillery of Placentia, Calif., who receives a $250 scholarship. In her essay, titled “Religious Refuge or Christian Country: The Role of Religion in the Founding of the American Republic,” Hillery wrote, “During an age of religious fervor when European nations legislated in accordance with the religious beliefs of the majority, America broke rank; for the first time, a nation was founded not on religious dogma but on religious liberty.” Katie is the daughter of Colleen and Matt Hillery, and she is a home-schooled student who will graduate in the spring of 2014.
The winning essays are available on the Baptist Joint Committee website as Word documents.