Welcome to the Center for Interfaith Relations' Submittable page! From here, you are able to submit your entries for our Poetry of the Sacred, Young Authors Sacred Essays, and Community Sacred Essays contests.

For over thirteen years, the Poetry of the Sacred contest has received thousands of submissions touching every aspect of spiritual life. Poetry has been called ‘the language of the soul’ and this annual contest encourages poets to awaken the reader to the deep meaning and beauty of a contemplative life. Poems are evaluated based on literary excellence, authenticity and spiritual tenor.

We have since then expanded our scope into short essays, as well. The growing Young Authors Sacred Essays contest solicits short written pieces from the next generation of communities across the country. For this contest, we seek the insight of teenagers and young adults on pressing social issues and relationships with faith. The Community Sacred Essays contest expands this to our communities at large, particularly interested in those with a strong connection to their faith.

The Center for Interfaith Relations (CIR) is soliciting previously unpublished essays from emerging young authors (ages 13-18) discussing the term “one human family” and how people relate to each other despite differences. Explore themes such as acceptance, tolerance, compassion and cooperation between different cultures, ethnicities, and other communities. Works that consider these topics in the context of faith or investigate sacred themes are welcome and encouraged.

Questions to Consider:

  • What steps need to be taken to ease growing tensions in this country?
  • How can the political narrative be shifted from one of fearmongering to one of compassion and kindness?
  • What role do faith communities play in advocating tolerance, if any? Do you agree or disagree with your own (or other) community’s understanding of acceptance?
  • What does acceptance and welcoming look like in your family/community/etc.?
  • What do you do in your daily life to promote tolerance and acceptance?

Quotes to Consider:

  • “We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion. This then is my true religion, my simple faith.” – Dalai Lama XIV
  • “In a society that functions optimally, those who can should naturally want to provide for those who can’t. That’s how it's supposed to work. I truly believe we’re here to take care of one another.” – LeVar Burton
  • “By acting compassionately, by helping to restore justice and to encourage peace, we acknowledge that we are all part of one another.” – Ram Dass
  • “The world would be a paradise of peace and justice if global citizens shared a common definition of love that would guide our thoughts and actions.” – bell hooks

Words and Themes to Consider:

  • Healing
  • Representation
  • Justice
  • Multiculturalism
  • Anti-racism
  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • The American “Melting Pot”
  • Hope for a Better Future
  • Community
  • Security
  • Wellbeing
  • Our Planet


  • Submissions should be one Microsoft Word document between 250 and 1,500 words.
  • Deadline to submit is 5 p.m. EST on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023.
  • Essay must be anonymous. The author's name must not appear anywhere on attached document.
  • Submissions should be double spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font, with no headers or footers.
  • Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but please notify us immediately via Submittable’s “Withdraw” option if your work is accepted elsewhere.
  • One (1) Grand Prize winner will be published online by LEO Weekly and on our website and will receive a cash prize of $100.
  • Essays selected for honorable mentions will be awarded a $25 honorarium.
  • If accepted for publication, CIR retains the first North American serial rights of the work to publish, produce, reproduce, distribute, and market. All other remaining rights revert to the author upon publication. If the work is published again, we ask for a credit line to indicate that the work first appeared with CIR’s Young Authors Sacred Essay Writing Contest.
  • All decisions are made by Center for Interfaith Relations and delegated judges, and are final.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the United States ages 13-18.
Center for Interfaith Relations