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The Archbishop of Canterbury's Faith in the World Prize

The judging panel: Baroness Warsi, Benedict Brogan, Jane Williams, Lucy Winkett, and the Archbishop (not pictured).

Saturday 15th January 2011

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has launched the 'Faith in the World' writing prize, which invites young people to submit an essay exploring faith in our world.


[Please note: this competition closed on Friday March 11th 2011.]


In an article in the Daily Telegraph the Archbishop says:

"If we want to nurture a really articulate public argument about the great issues of our times, we have to make sure that younger citizens have the confidence to make themselves heard.  One of the most depressing things that can happen to young people is a climate, whether in school or out of it, that gives them the message that they're not worth listening to...And if you believe that religious faith is one of the things that quite rightly gets people talking, for and against, it is important to help younger people make the connections between the issues of the day and the ideas and ideals associated with faith.  They may want to argue furiously against it or they may discover that it has more to say to them than they expected.  But it is wonderful when there is an environment in which those connections can be made." 

"I want to try something fresh by setting up a new writing prize for young people, a 'Faith in the World' Prize which would invite essays on some of those big topics.  I want to hear from young people about what they think on the way religion does or doesn't help them think about science and society, about the basis of decision making, about the environment and family and money, prisons, religious conflict, global justice and a good many other things."

"I feel pretty confident that there are plenty of young people out there who will want to have their say about faith and the big issues.  And I want them to in turn to be confident that they will have plenty of readers and listeners –which is why I'm trailing this publicly.  So I hope this initiative will help not only our younger citizens but all of us to take a new look at the ways in which faith can inform a lively public discussion.  The kind of atmosphere that will make a 'Big Society' work is one that encourages public thoughtfulness – careful, critical thinking about the real gifts and the real challenges of being human.  I'm looking forward to hearing from our young citizens – and I know I'm not alone in this."

About the Prize

Whatever you think about faith in our world, it's not an issue that's going away. Questions of how different faiths live together, or what religion says about money or the environment keep on being asked in public debate and in the media. Archbishop Rowan Williams wants to encourage young people to be part of this conversation, so that their voices can be heard on the key issues facing society today. This prize has been developed to encourage young people to get involved in these crucial debates, and also to provide a platform for that input by showcasing the best of their contributions.

Archbishop Rowan will be joined by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Cabinet Minister and Conservative Party Chairman; Benedict Brogan, Deputy Editor of the Daily Telegraph; the Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector of St. James's, Piccadilly; and Mrs Jane Williams on the judging panel for this prize.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Faith in the World Prize has been made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Lambeth Fund.


The judges will award one prize in each age group, as follows:

Ages 13-15 - £250; ages 16-17 - £350; ages 18-21 - £500.

The winners will be invited to receive their prizes at a reception at Lambeth Palace. If the judges decide that there are other entries that also merit particular commendation, these entrants will also be invited to join the reception. Winning and highly commended entries will be published on the Archbishop of Canterbury's website and extracts may also be published in The Daily Telegraph.

Essay Titles

You should enter the category that reflects your age on September 1st 2010

Age 13-15 (800 words maximum)

· Do you need to be religious to be good?

· Does God care about global warming?

· The Bible says that 'the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil'. (1 Timothy 6:10) Can money make you happy?

· What are school assemblies for?

· God cares for the poor. How can people of faith demonstrate this care?

Age 16-17 (1,500 words maximum)

· How can one person improve the lives of the world's poorest?

· Why have chaplains in prisons?

· "Ecological questions are increasingly being defined as issues of justice" (Archbishop Rowan Williams, Ebor Lecture, 25th March 2009). Should this change how we respond to environmental problems?

· Should politicians 'do God'?

· What's the point of different religions talking to each other?

Age 18-21 (2,500 words maximum)

· Is believing more important than belonging?

· Does God believe in the existence of society?

· "That's dialogue for me – the recognition of the serious." (Archbishop Rowan Williams, Interview with The Hindu newspaper, 18th October 2010) What's dialogue for you?

· What is "good news" for the poor? How can we be part of this?

· Is environmentalism a new religion?

What the judges will be looking for

The judges will be looking for evidence of engagement with the subject, a clear grasp of the issues involved and good communication of the central ideas and argument of the essay. Particularly in the older age groups, they will also be looking for originality of thought and an analysis of the broader context in which these issues are addressed. The judges' decision will be final.

Please note: this competition closed on Friday March 11th 2011.

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