Should You Keep Your Religion To Yourself?

by Judge Josh on July 8, 2010

Of the 200+ scholarship help articles I’ve written in the last year or so, the one that’s gotten me the second-largest amount of hate mail is the one about thrusting your politics and religion upon scholarship judges. (It’s a distant second, mind you — the top spot is still held solidly by the admittedly inflammatory Bore Me With Your GPA).

I think 80% of the hate mail comes from people who didn’t/don’t understand exactly what I’m saying, and the other 20% are so offended by the truth that they direct their anger at me. All of which is just fine. Hey, I’m trying to make this a popular site, so all publicity is good publicity!

Every time I think of religion and controversy, I think of this Madonna video. I can't help it.

So today, Kayla wants to know more about the religion topic, and I’ll do my best to clear up the murky waters.

I have successfully gone through two years of college without any student loans.

Outstanding!

I work a part-time job and I am a full-time student. My problem arose this semester in that I am about $5000 in the hole that my family cannot provide and I will not be able to earn. Because of the downturn of the economy, some of my scholarships have been docked. I will be doing work study to try to make some more money, but it will not cover the remaining balance, as well as the cost of my books.

That’s definitely a bummer since I’m sure you would’ve preferred to make the last two years debt-free as well, but this is definitely a student-loan situation if I’ve ever seen one. If you can knock even $1,000-$1,500 off that amount in work-study, then you’re looking at only $3,500 in student loans. That’s not bad at all, considering you’ll be 3/4 of the way through school at that point. Even a missionary will be able to afford that payment! :)

Also another problem I have is that I plan on going into Christian ministry as a vocation. I attend a Christian university and plan to use my education in ministry. What is the best way to write my essays without putting my beliefs on the judges? It’s not really possible to not make my beliefs known while I write the essays for scholarships. What should I do?


That’s a great question, and I’m glad you asked it because it gives me a chance to re-state/clear up my other posts on the topic, and perhaps to add some new tactical advice that’ll help you win scholarships.

First of all, don’t ever think that your religion is something you need to actively HIDE from any scholarship judge. I don’t think I’ve ever said that — at least I hope I didn’t, because I would now be vehemently disagreeing with myself. When I mention avoiding religion and politics in your scholarship essays, I’m usually talking about a combination of both of these things:

a) When the scholarship essay topic is completely open-ended, and you’re allowed to write about anything you want;

AND

b) The entire point of your essay appears to be an aggressive attempt to convert the readers (judges) to your point of view.

If you have a wide-open essay question and you choose to use it to forcefully convert someone to your religion or your side of a particular political argument, then you’re making a mistake — if you first concern is to win the money, that is.

(Several of you are bound to write in and say that your first concern is to glorify God, and not to win the money. In which case, I say that’s fine — then you’ll succeed in your first concern and fail in your second.)

As I’ve said in my other post, there are good odds that someone on the scholarship committee doesn’t agree with you and doesn’t want to sit through yet another attempt to convert them (because you won’t be the first to have tried). And you’ll leave a bad taste in their mouth and they’ll be much happier to vote to eliminate your essay from consideration as they’re narrowed down in the later stages of judging.

But if you’re asked about your future plans, and your future plans involve being a Christian missionary, then by all means, tell people about your plans to be a Christian missionary. Again though, as a practical matter, you should probably avoid the hellfire and brimstone and sinners tone of voice and opt for the “spreading love, light, and peace” route.

There’s a reason, as you know, why most missionaries take that approach as well — it just works better. It’s why more people will open the door to “hear about the good news of Jesus Christ” than they will if you knock and tell them the flames of hell are licking at the doorstep of their home because it’s a coven of sin.

The problem that most detractors have with my perspective have on this issue is that they believe choosing NOT to discuss religion — even in one instance — is somehow traitorous or heretical to your beliefs. I disagree.

I imagine that when you sit down at the Olive Garden, for example, you probably just order your food — you don’t insist that a discussion of religion be inserted between breadsticks and salad.

That’s all I’m saying about scholarship applications — they’re the same way. Yes, you CAN insert an inflammatory topic (and it’s not just religion — politics are even worse, from a judge’s perspective) — but it doesn’t make you less pious if you just skip it and write the essay, or order fettuccine alfredo, or whatever. And it does drastically decrease your chances of winning.

Make sense? Hope so. Got any thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam Kelley July 8, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I agree with Josh, though I would like to point out the flip side:

There are scholarships run by organizations with a religious motive. At first, I thought it would be difficult to write about, say, the word of Jesus. I was raised atheist.

Very few times, however, does the scholarship state you actually have to be Christian or Jewish, or whatever religion they promote.

As per my example, I had to write an essay on how I can follow Jesus’ word or “Love your neighbor as yourself” in today’s self-centered culture. This is a phrase I can agree with and easily write an essay on without mentioning I am not a Christian. I was even able to insert a biblical quote that made me appear to follow the faith (Luke 12:48).

I did not lie to the judges, but I did not actively dismiss their faith either. I need the money and I am not going to highlight our differences thinking I will get it.

Reply

Allie July 8, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Unless the essay is related to your career goals, I simply can’t think of a good reason to talk about your religion. No one wants to hear about it other than people who feel the same way you do. That sounds mean, but it’s true.

Alternately, apply for scholarships where some sort of Christ-importance belief is fundamental to winning the scholarship. Then you can talk about it all you like w/o irritating the judges (though you’ll have to talk about it better than anyone else applying can).

And to Josh, a quick question:

“That’s all I’m saying about scholarship applications — they’re the same way. Yes, you CAN insert an inflammatory topic (and it’s not just religion — politics are even worse, from a judge’s perspective) — but it doesn’t make you less pious if you just skip it and write the essay, or order fettuccine alfredo, or whatever. And it does drastically decrease your chances of winning.”

Did you mean talking about it drastically decreases the chances of winning, or did you mean just ordering the fettuccine drastically INCREASES the chances of winning? I read it as the latter but figured I should get clarification.

Reply

Allie July 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Damn, I should’ve read the comment before I finished writing.

Sam, although I’m not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination, I do find it disingenuous (and somewhat offensive) to apply for scholarships that specify membership of a specific belief is a prerequisite – if you aren’t a member of that faith. You don’t find some ethical issues with doing this?

That being said, I will now date myself by saying it reminds me a little of that movie Soul Man from the 80s.

Reply

Josh Barsch July 8, 2010 at 4:33 pm

@Allie: I meant that talking about it decreases your chances of winning. Just ordering the fettuccine probably increases your chance of better service. :)

Reply

Josh Barsch July 8, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Soul Man was a sweet movie. I think he looked more southern Italian than black, though. :)

Reply

chuck July 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I believe that she should stand proud on her faith and if she loses the scholarship then it was not meant to be. God will always provide.

Reply

April May 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I agree with chuck!!!!!!!

Reply

Sam Kelley July 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

@Allie –

I didn’t say I had to be a member of the faith, just that I had to argue for it. I can argue for a single quote or belief from a system when it fits my belief system. It’s not like the essay is asking how God changing my life or how I help spread the word, just how I live by a certain principle.

Reply

Whitney July 8, 2010 at 5:11 pm

If you really want to be a missionary, you shouldn’t hide it! People will admire your goals and beliefs when you are not afraid to stand up for them. After all, would anyone feel encouraged to support someone who did not want to say they were a missionary?

Reply

Sharena July 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm

My advice is that Kayla look for scholarships offered through her school. If she is attending a Christian university, then there must be churches or other organizations affiliated with it. Those would be the perfect place to bring up her faith and future plans because that is the sort of things those organizations would probably be interested in.

Reply

Saichelle July 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I totally agree with Josh. Most people have no problem with your religion, as long as you’re not forcing it on others. I’m quite non-religious, but I certainly can’t deny that missionaries are doing a good thing– aside from spreading religious beliefs, many missionaries come bearing food and medical supplies, which is GREAT. I might try and tone down the religious aspect a little bit, but from any perspective, missionary-ing is a positive thing.

Reply

Sarah July 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

There are SO many religion-centric scholarships out there. Fastweb, etc, keep trying to get me to apply for them, and I qualify for none of them as I am not an active member of any religion. The sender should check out this type of thing, so she can talk at length about her religion and beliefs and not risk offending anyone.

It doesn’t sound to me like the sender is the kind to force the subject in the first place. There are those who will deny a scholarship simply because she plans to go into Christian ministry–that’s human bias. But, there are also many who will look at “I am working very hard to become a minister so I can help people etc. etc.” and focus on the reason why more than the job itself. Like Josh said, focus on the helping people aspect, not the religious aspect, and you should be fine.

Reply

Julie July 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm

If it’s a scholarship for a Christian school, then there is likely a question in the mind of the school – how has your faith made a positive difference in your life? If this can be addressed GENTLY, then it would probably not hurt. You want to be a missionary – maybe explaining WHY would be appropriate. (And I hope it’s not ‘to get out of the anteroom of Hell called my hometown!’)

Reply

Lauren July 8, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I think it is absolutely fine for Kayla to discuss her faith. No, she shouldn’t shove things down people’s throats or preach hellfire, but neither should she emphasize just light, love and peace. She can talk about how we live in a fallen world, and how we all are, indeed sinners. It’s her right to peacefully and winsomely speak of the Gospel, and if they dump her for that, well, then that’s a shame.

Reply

Fellow Christian Student July 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I didn’t read all the comments but I will respond from personal experience. I have filled out tons of applications for things over the years and worked in many environments seeing as how I am working on my Ph.D. at the moment.

I actually had a bad experience a few years ago where after I got a job and asked for a rec letter at the end they were excited to write it but completely sabotaged me because of my religious beliefs (Christianity). It wasn’t that I was trying to convert anyone during my time there but I happened to be talking to people who were afraid that I would try to convert others. When they asked me questions about what I believe I was honest but because they did not understand as I did and some had had bad experiences and subsequently over-generalized, they held it against me it cost me an extra year in school. On the flip side, my religion helped me to get past that experience and it actually worked out to benefit me. . . just as God promised because I am obedient to Him.

Since that time, I have completed applications for things and chosen to be specific yet general in my response. For instance, I would love to work at my church when I graduate however in my application when they asked about career goals I simply described the responsibilities I would like to have in my career and called the setting a “community-based agency”. As I begin my new job, I am planning to just feel my way through people and be lead by the Holy Spirit on who to share with. On my last job I was very open with everyone and had varying degrees of conversations with people depending on their openess to the topic. I just do me and generally it sparks someone’s interest/curiosity and I use that as an opening to sharing.

Reply

Debbie July 8, 2010 at 8:08 pm

My experience is that your sincerity (or lack thereof) is of the utmost importance when applying for any scholarship. If you are sincere in your calling to be a missionary that will shine through. Some will respond positively and others not so, just like in any other application. Do not hide what God has called you to. Our family knows this by personal experience and scholarships have been awarded and not awarded, but the truth was expressed with sincerity in the application. Focus on past experiences that have led you to this decision. Life experiences mean a lot to a person’s character. You are not preaching, just showing where God is directing you personally.

Reply

John July 8, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I agree with Josh. If the scholarship does not pertain to religious/political subjects then religion and politics should be kept to a minimum in essays. “Glorifying God/Allah/Buddha” is fine and dandy, but at the end of the day it doesn’t get you the money as the judges will probably get bored and throw your essay in the “loser” pile.

Reply

Anonymous July 8, 2010 at 8:14 pm

keep religion to yourself, period.

Reply

Ana July 8, 2010 at 8:17 pm

I think that Kayla should stand for what she believes. Religion to christian is not a face that we put on or off but a way of life for us. We walk with faith and not by sight and what ever may come our way we will be able to handle it. As for preaching to others about the gospel we are should not be ashamed to let people know that there is God that loves them and cares about their lives in a world that is full of disappointments.

Reply

April May 2, 2011 at 2:38 pm

This is what we live for as Christians!!!!!

Reply

DK July 8, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I believe Kayla should write whatever she wants to write. The judges are supposed to look at her truth self. And for my understanding by what Kayla is saying, religion is a big part of her. If religion is what describes her and think she can write a good essay by saying about it, she should. It would be shameful if the judge judges on the essay because personal disapproval to the religion. Kayla, you should do whatever you want with it… not if you know who the judge is and know the person’s perspective to things..

Reply

Cassandra Tranumn July 8, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Kayla should never down her religion for nobody… Kayla needs to be herself and don’t worry about what others think or do..She has her own mind and no one should ever try to hinder her from her belief..Kayla you keep your faith and your understanding of who God is and know that I am on your side and I support you on faith and works.. You know what I mean by that…Lastly, I will never hide my faith or religion for anyone..I am who God made me, I am who I am because of the Lord and I will never hide that or let anyone hinder me from my blessings..I will continue to practice my faith (religion) in the public and in private…Kayla you will make the right decision…Remember Kayla James 4:8…You are blessed and highly favored.. AMEN

Reply

Allie July 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Josh,

I think we might be the only two people here who remember (and like) that movie. But I agree w/ your assessment of his inability to look like he was black.

I have to say though, the alfredo icks me out. I’m more of a spinach dip and calamari person, myself.

Sam,

Thanks for the clarification. The way I read your comment was that you were applying for scholarships that wanted members of a specific religion to apply and then answering the essay questions based on the portions of the religion you agreed with. Clearly I misread, and going back now it’s obvious to me that I did. Sorry ’bout that. Jewish scholarships (which actually are generally interest-free loans) are kind of lame, since you have to get a letter of reference from your rabbi for most (all? All I’ve seen anyway) of them. I’m just not observant enough by any stretch of the imagination to be ballsy enough to ask any of my rabbis to write those letters for me. :)

Reply

Adrienne July 8, 2010 at 9:04 pm

The judges will see that you attend a Christian college, so they’ll realize you’re a Christian. As a Believer myself I know how special our faith is and I think its great that you plan to serve. Focus on that in the essay- your future plans and goals with respect to your faith. Judges like to know that the applicants have a plan for their future and a purpose for their education. Be specific about what you plan to accomplish with your degree and career.
I hope this was helpful and God bless.

Reply

Denise July 8, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Kayla,
Research and apply to christian organizations or foundations if you hope to be awarded scholarships based on being a devout christian. Although, I think they may even want you to display some sort of scholarly merit. Write about something smart. Keep yourself and your beliefs out of the essay. Most of all, the sign of a good christian is to always be respectful of others. That is the “truth”. If all else fails, apply for the student loan and join the crowd.
Good luck

Reply

Christian student July 8, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Always put God first, speak from your heart, and do your very best. He will guide you through your college years and your scholarships. If you are to write about your religion in your essays God will put it on your heart. Best of luck!

Reply

Arsen July 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Whenever I apply for things like that, I have to choose whether or not to mention that I am transsexual and gay. I only put it down when it is relevant, just like I wouldn’t throw in a detailed history of the battle of Hastings if it weren’t directly relevant to the topic at hand. If mentioning or explaining your faith is necessary and/or helpful to making your point, then I think it is a good idea for you to do so.

Also, you should keep in mind that many people, even if they do not agree with your faith and your path in life, they are likely to respect someone who can be so committed to God and yet won’t be pushy about their faith. Like Mr. Barsch said, you are more likely to win people over that way. I love talking to committed Christians who aren’t constantly telling me what is what, and we have meaningful, deep conversations about the meaning of life and matters of faith.

Reply

Em July 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Comment on the “you must be a certain religion to apply” – to me, that’s about as discriminatory as saying we’ll only give you the money if you’re (insert nationality of choice) American, gay, HIV positive, female, under 25, in an environmental engineering degree or from a low income background. All scholarships are discriminatory to one degree or another – just take a look next time you apply. If you can’t read or write, now that’s really being discriminatory! They probably have criteria for a reason -to determine who to give the money to.

I certainly agree with Christian student’s post, and with Josh B. If it’s an open ended question and your faith is a significant part of your future, I don’t see a problem with that topic. Like Josh says, if you’re not shoving your beliefs in their faces, owning your statements (making clear that I believe this, but I don’t expect you do), keeping it off of preaching and more showing your faith by what you’re going to do (Jesus’ example, period), and intelligently making a case for what you want to do with your life, by all means, go for it. I’d be happy to read something like that as a judge. Just keep the emotions out, please, and bring in the rationality.

Reply

Emily July 8, 2010 at 10:55 pm

I agree with Arsen. Obviously a scholarship essay is not the time to preach, but if it helps to make a point, by all means throw it in there. I applied for a scholarship recently that is designed to pay my way to a convention on alternative medicine. I spoke to the question of why I am interested in alternative medicine and how it will effect my life and career. As part of a holistic understanding of self, and knowing my audience, I definitely mentioned faith, God, and prayer. I won that scholarship and my essay is being published in a trade journal. Don’t repress who you are, but don’t go out of your way to put it someone’s face either. Trust yourself.

Reply

Eddy July 8, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Makes sense. I’m thinking of becoming a missionary, too, and I never tried to preach fire and brimstone to scholarship judges, but I did write about my ambitions freely, like you’ve suggested. Hell fire sermons aren’t the best way to proselytize, anyway 😛

Reply

Melanie July 9, 2010 at 12:58 am

Most of the comments are in my favor, but I will state it anyway. I am first and foremost, a Christian- judge away :) I wrote several upon several essays (I don’t so much anymore) when I was in high school and most of them asked me of my future plans. As a Christian, I know that I can make my own plans for my future and have every thing laid out the way I want it to happen, but I do know that God can change all of that because He is ultimate in control and is all-powerful (Proverbs 3:5, also check out “My Future Decided” by Hillsong United). I think that it’s important to be honest in your essays about what you want to do and where you’re headed at this moment in time; however; I agree that you should not shove it down the judges’ throats because it will turn them away not only from your essay, but from the chance of them possibly listening to what you have to say about your beliefs. You have to introduce it slowly to people and not force it on them. Honestly, it is sometimes not necessary to mention anything at all in your essay about religion/beliefs/whatever. I think that if you feel led to mention it, ENCOURAGE it- don’t beat them with it. I don’t think a judge would discriminate because if you’re gentle and honest about it. Best of luck and God will bless you if you continue to honor Him!

Reply

Stephen Heleker July 9, 2010 at 1:29 am

As a Christian, I’m kind of bummed to see people saying, “No, you have to preach it or you aren’t following your faith!” I think that part of being a serious person of any variety is living a full life. If all you can do is preach, you’re missing the point. Talk about your full life, mentioning the religious focus if it feels right. If you wanna fix the world, you wanna fix the world. Talk about how you’re going to do that. After all, just talking isn’t gonna do it : )

Reply

Kristin Saplala July 9, 2010 at 6:05 am

Well, I’m not sure if I was part of the haters from last year’s religion topic.. (I think I was… kinda… not really? lol) Faith is a very personal topic to many people.. and people feel bad that they have to suppress themselves on an essay that encourages them to open up in the first place. Especially when they’re suddenly inspired by a certain spiritual quote, and they have to backpedal for fear of being eliminated.

But I see your point Judge Josh. I share the same sentiment and have similar experiences as Fellow Christian Student (the one with the time-stamp July 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm) It’s not a perfect world… everyone has their beliefs… and no one wants to be ostracized one way or the other..

The key here is balance. Respect. Acknowledgment of other beliefs and the reality that the world is varied. And really good writing skills to convey your point without scaring the judges away — which is the whole challenge of it I guess..

Reply

Char July 9, 2010 at 8:24 am

If she’s going into ministry Kayla also has the option of church sponsorship. Many churches add this to their budget, so she should definitely speak to her church/denomination.

Reply

Express_D July 9, 2010 at 8:24 am

There is not a way for you to apply for a scholarship without telling them what you are going to do with the money. If ministry is what you want to do then you have no choice but to tell them about your career goal; it’s not forcing your religion on people when you tell them that. Honestly, a judge that allows personal beliefs to get in the way of choosing a winner for a scholarship should step down. What a judge believes in or not is not criteria for judging an applicant’s entry. They should not be concerned about what your religion is but whether you met the guidelines of the scholarship rules. If they don’t believe that way, so what; you don’t care what they believe; you just want a scholarship. Plus, how does expressing your beliefs forcing your beliefs on someone? If a person tells you to downplay your beliefs for a scholarship because the judges might not believe what you do, isn’t that forcing the judges beliefs on you?

Reply

Bridget July 9, 2010 at 9:31 am

Like most scholarship essays you usually need to talk about your future plans so definitely don’t be afraid to mention that you plan to become a missionary. I would try to approach the response in a manner that describes how you would like to positively affect people. Even an atheist judge can agree that the world would be a much better place if people behaved with more integrity, morals, honesty, selflessness, generosity, etc. The corporations in our country are definitely lacking these kinds of people. You can encompass all of these qualities in your essay without having to keep mentioning a specific religion. I don’t think you will look bad in God’s eyes because you are not professing a certain religion. Remember, God wants to you to reach out to people in any way you can, even if it’s by not mentioning him for the moment.

Reply

Jen July 9, 2010 at 10:07 am

I have to agree with Josh.

The only thing I would add is to know your audience when you write (i.e. the scholarship judges). If it is a Christian Organization, I say no holds barred. Talk actively and from the heart.

If it is through a public organization, no harm in mentioning faith but the work you expect to accomplish and the professional approach is the best course.

If it is a scholarship sponsored by a government entity (city, state, federal) don’t even mention religion. The name of your school will say volumes. If you bring faith into the wonderful world of government, thanks to separation of church and state you will automatically be overlooked. The judges awarding government funds are not going to want to open up that can of worms.

Reply

Lauren Blair July 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I definately agree with Josh. If your planning on heading in to the Missionary field and they ask you about it by all means speak on your faith, but from a loving stand point. Also as other people have said write to your audience. Certain things are acceptable depending on who is running the scholarship contest. You have to tell them what they want to hear. Good Luck and G-d Bless!!!

Reply

Zuhra July 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm

From personal experience, I included religious activities or religious-based activities in my scholarship applications, but in addition showed how it benefited the community irrespective of their beliefs. For example, as a Muslim, I wrote how I aimed to increase understanding between the different faiths. Also I spoke of my involvement in non-religious based activities so that I am seen as balanced.

I believe if you are sincere it will shine through. And if you are meant to get the scholarship you will. :)

Reply

HF July 9, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I’m glad to have read this. I’m a Media Arts major. All of the films I work on have Christian or family centered influences in them. I like to write films with a Christian/Family base, but in a way that everyone can enjoy them. I’ve always worried about writing what types of films I’m interested in making. I respect people. I don’t shove my beliefs down other peoples throats. I was always worried about having to write where I see myself 10 years from now, without pretending to be someone else. Now I know there is no harm mentioning it when I’m asked.

Reply

chloe July 9, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Depends on the scholarship for your religious affiliations. If it asks for it then do it but if not then don’t. Some scholarships look for well rounded people not just people dedicated and only in one thing. I am a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I participate in our activities often but because of the Church, I can come upon many issues because some people don’t like us or they believe such rumors as horns and polygamy. So it also depends on who is judging your scholarship. So it may be good just to generalize to keep from prejudice discrimination, but once again, it just depends mainly on what scholarship you are applying.

Reply

Michael T. July 12, 2010 at 11:01 am

All I have to say is in Christ word it says, if you are ashamed of me I will be ashamed of you before my father. Why be a Christian missionary if you can’t write of talk about God. If you are majoring in Christian religious studies you she be more than happy to put God or Jesus in an essay no matter what the topic is. Who cares about what the judges think if you believe you can have it then you will get it if you put Him first in all that you do.

Reply

India July 12, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I think that you should write about what you want to write about, if the topic is open-ended. I think that you, most likely, will need to write a little bit about who Jesus is to you as you make your point about why you want to be a missionary. If it is not open-ended, you should make sure that you answer the questions of the scholarship. You should not worry so much about your money. Matthew 6:33 states “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. ” As long as you are doing His will, He will make a way.

Reply

Janelle July 13, 2010 at 11:18 am

along Melanie’s lines… you want your applications to have a mature and approachable tone in them. It’ll be good practice, too, of finding that tricky balance you will be dealing with all throughout your career in discussions.

Don’t forget that, as a missionary, you will often be encouraging people to adopt a different set of morals than what will probably be prevalent in the culture you are in. And you know what-despite how people may huff and puff- that’s awesome, because it will challenge some practices that should be challenged, such as murder, rape, female circumsision, theft, etc. Don’t be ashamed of the values you stand for. The gospel is not some passive, supertolerant cute story. It changes peoples lives and can turn whole cultures around for the better. Among other things, you will be spreading the idea that human life has inmeasurable value, and is worthy of respect and care in all areas of life.
Go make history.

Reply

Rachel Richardson July 14, 2010 at 11:43 pm

It don’t matter what religions you are,as long as you have the faith, you don’t have to put religion in writting everytime I write a scholarship I pray before I enter itand say go with God.

Reply

Gail July 16, 2010 at 11:23 am

I think the sad truth is that we live in a country where most people are not exposed to “different” opinions or religions and therefore do not tolerate “different”
I think taking a political or religious position in a scholarship essay is DANGEROUS as you risk offending a judge.
I myself find religion interesting and I enjoy learning about the history of my religion and other religions. I can easily talk about it without anger if someone does not agree or believe as I do. Be warned there are many people so passionate about their own beliefs they get very angry if you don’t agree or believe differently than they do.
My advice would be to be honest about your goals, but try to leave out specific secular beliefs and focus more on the good things you feel it will do, like helping people, bringing them together, offering hope and showing human compassion while introducing an opportunity for spirituality, and how your love can be an example of your devotion. Don’t lie about your goals but stay away from talking about specific Christian beliefs and traditions.
Many people are unaware that there are 3000 different relgions practiced on this Earth and that Christianity is just ONE of those 3000.
There are many good points about a devoted religious person. So focus on that and not your specific religious traditions. Keep in mind that most religions are to encourage love, compassion, affection for others, and to create a sense of connection within a community while curbing chaos. So if you focus on those things once you state your goal, almost any person of any religion will relate to you.

Reply

Serina July 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Yes, Kayla should talk about her faith in the scholorships she submits. We are to “go forth and make disiples of all nations”. How are we to do that if we don’t share our love for our Abba Father. Besides, I share my faith in scholorships because its apart of my goals when done with my education. There is also seasons for witnessing they are: planting, watering and harvisting. So sharing her faith in the scholorship is part of the plan.

Reply

Ismael July 20, 2010 at 2:27 pm

In my opinion, faith it’s important. However, it can be quite tricky when a person does not have a faith to believe in. In a scholarship, I wrote a parable that helped me get the attention of the judges but that does not mean that I glorified everything for them. Only the Holy spirit does the magic. Using faith in scholarship it’s a good idea.

Reply

Nelida Velazquez July 27, 2010 at 12:16 am

Be proud of who you are and stand by what you belief in. Never downgrade yourself for anything, especially for material things. Be proud of who you are religion and all. Always remember that the mighty one above us is more powerful than anything on this materialistic world and with him all things are possible. Pray alot and your school tuition will solve itself. I’ll be praying for you.

Reply

John August 13, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Don’t ever be ashamed of your faith in Christ. Don’t let the world hinder you from speaking about God and how He has impacted your life. You can always tell when someone’s faith is a religious obligation or when he/she does it out of love and joy because of what God has done for them.

Reply

Indi August 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Plain and simple. If a scholarship asks about your career goals then by all means praise your God. However, if the question is what you can do to save the environment unless you know Jesus personally (literally not on a spiritual level) and he can help you pick up some trash, keep him to yourself.

Reply

Brittany October 2, 2010 at 1:55 am

When applying for scholarships, “they” recommend that you don’t use any personal beliefs in your paper because if the judge who reads your paper disagrees with it, then they’ll throw it out or you would be less than likely to receive that scholarship.
If the scholarship essay gives me liberty to write on whatever I want, I would write on my Christian faith.
Most of my community service and after school activities are church related, so I write them down because they do count.
Have I been pentalized? Not that I know of. So even if you do get a judge who doesn’t believe what you believe in because it doesn’t matter.
You have the favor of God. So let Him lead you in what you should do.

Reply

Amy November 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Too many people spend their time on this thread talking about how you can apply for scholarships that are specifically for your religion when clearly the girl is asking about a SCHOOL scholarship.

No matter your vocational plans, the scholarship judges want to hear about it. But rather than attempting to explain your RELIGIOUS reasons for going into that vocation, try a DIFFERENT approach.

For example: you probably don’t just want to spread the word of God. You probably also want to be able to use your position in the ministry to help those less fortunate. Do you want to use your position to help build a soup kitchen? Or maybe to help provide a safe place where every kid in the neighborhood can come and play basketball on Thursdays after school? Do you want to use your position to help build up the private schools run by your church so you can ensure the children are receiving both a solid religious education as well as a contemporary education?

Remember, ministers do A LOT MORE than preach religion.

When I wrote for scholarships I didn’t say “I want to be a graphic designer to draw stuff for a living.” I told them what I REALLY wanted to do. Which was, “I want to put my skills as a graphic designer to use for small, local non-profit organizations and small businesses so their message can be seen, heard and understood.” Somewhere in there I talked about wanting to own a business or be a freelancer so I could control the costs that these people paid and keep those costs down to an affordable level so I could help grow the economy.

Remember…your passion for your religion isn’t a drawback unless you thrust it on people and you verbally puke it all over people.

The judges want to know that you are passionate about your chosen vocation. But they want to know that you’re going to use it to help people, not convert people.

And if you’re NOT interested in using your position to do good in the community, tell them why you want to be a minister. Because you were inspired by the minister at your church. Because you feel that the teachings are outdated. Because you want to be able to inspire the youth in your faith to take better care of their bodies, minds and souls.

Think of it from a business perspective and how you are going to make a difference…without the major religious aspect.

Think about it. If you’re going to be a Christian missionary or minister, the judges are already going to know that you’re passionate about religion. They don’t need to hear it again. They need to hear why YOU ARE DIFFERENT.

Reply

Tierra January 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I don’t think it should matter what your religion is. You grew up and was raised this way, no one can hold that against you. Should you go around “flaunting” your religion and “insulting” others? No, not everyone practices the same religion, and as long as you have a relationship with God, why does it matter? But pointing out things about your religion is unique and possibly and smart way to make them see that you are different and that you deserve the scholarship

Reply

Cassis February 19, 2011 at 8:23 am

I have not read the comments But I think that Downplaying your beliefs (as a Christian) is in a way being ashamed of your beliefs and the bible talks about this negatively. I was just as worried about being discriminated against this when I decided to go to a secular school.
But I have found that people are pretty accepting, they all know I am just like them (to a degree) its not like I walk up to them and say “Hi I am a Christan!” no, I usually just mention church in conversation and if they ask I will tell them. I sometimes write my essays from my worldwide and I have never gotten a negative response from any teacher. (course art history is riddled with Christianity so its not that big of a deal)

but my point is, that there is a lot of fear before going to college that people will hate you for your beliefs but I have found everyone to be very accepting, and even found a lot of Christians on campus which I was not expecting. as long as you understand that there are many people and not all of them are going to share your beliefs and you are not required to convert them, you can stop worrying about it.

Reply

Cassis February 19, 2011 at 8:25 am

I forgot to add, that I applied for school scholarships talking about how I am a christian and it is my calling to Rescue slaves, which I plan on using my Major (Animation.. dont ask hehe) for. and I got the scholarship.

Reply

athena March 21, 2011 at 11:18 am

Depending on the essay, mentioning your religion can or can’t be a problem. If it asks for your career goals then obviously you’re going to have to talk about being a missionary. If they ask you about your own personal beliefs then yes, talking about God can be fit into there as long as you don’t push it. But if they ask something like “Why do you deserve this scholarship” I wouldn’t suggest mentioning religion… because to a judge that sounds like “I’m a Christian therefore I’m better then everybody else”. I’m not saying in the least that you’re trying to say that, but that’s probably what it will come across as. Judges have very different view points then you do and as you stop and write you have to be willing to accommodate every sort of view point the judge could possibly have while still staying true to yourself. It’s not an easy task at all.

Reply

athena March 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

another thing I’d like to add. If you’re a college student and you’re 3/4 of the way through and only have $10 in debt by the end of your college career then you’re lucky. I’m a freshmen and have already taken out around $20,000 in loans…

Reply

Olaolu April 8, 2011 at 3:52 am

I think Kayla should play down the religion part of it to avoid any form of bias or sentiments on the part of the judges.

Reply

Tera April 27, 2011 at 7:41 am

I believe that Kayla should write what she feels led to write. If you feel convicted for not including God in your essay, then include him! I believe that by putting God first in all your scholarships even though you know the risk it could hold, God will provide you with exactly what you need. Psalm 37:4:)

Reply

James May 30, 2011 at 7:17 am

It’s about time the faith-based thing disappeared. After the Bush administration’s illegal faith-based programs were forced upon us, a new generation of “believers” were born. These people have a lot to do with our economy going bad (along with Bush and his cronies raping us blind and then retiring) and they need to go underground with their proselytizing. The U.S.A. is NOT a Christian Nation as many believe. The Constitution is the law’s final arbiter, and it states the things it does in order to prevent any particular group from taking over, thereby making everyone else a second-class citizen. How would YOU like to be forced into going to an official government-sponsored church under the pain of losing all of your rights if you don’t? This stuff is madness.

Reply

Me June 18, 2011 at 9:27 am

Of course our religion (or if we choose not to follow one) is relevant to our daily lives. However, we should consider whether or not it is relevant to our scholarship. If applying for a scholarship from a Christian college or a Christian organization, then feel free to write about your faith-based goals. However, if applying for a scholarship where a person of any faith can get it, you may wish to consider leaving out your faith. This is not to hide your religion by any means; it is merely to avoid bias.

Reply

RGK September 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm

“I think 80% of the hate mail comes from people who didn’t/don’t understand exactly what I’m saying, and the other 20% are so offended by the truth that they direct their anger at me.”

I stopped reading after this line. I’ve agreed with most of what you’ve said, but wow, how bigoted can you get? You are not some all-knowing power; your opinions are not truth.

I’m pretty sure the only reason you even have “scholarship” applications on your website are to get students’ emails so you can spam them with your arrogance. Congrats, your emails are now being sent straight to my “spam” inbox.

Reply

Leave a Comment

WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

Previous post:

Next post: