non prophet status

share your secular story




For the list of winners and runners-up, click here.


A call for secular stories from

“I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what stories do I find myself a part?”                                                                                                                                                                                                      –Alasdair MacIntyre


NonProphet Status is seeking previously unpublished personal stories written from a secular (Secular Humanist, Atheist, Agnostic, et al.) perspective. Stories should be true (based on real, lived experience), 800 words or less in length, creative, and affirmative of a secular identity without being rooted in an anti-religious narrative. Submissions can be a reflection on a single incident or tell a longer narrative. Click here to download a PDF of contest details; you can download it as a Word Document here.


share your secular storyThe stories of secular (Secular Humanist, Atheist, Agnostic, et al.) people are scattered because we as a people are scattered. We are not unified by a denomination or tradition. Because there is little cohesion among us, our voice is often not loud enough to be heard in the modern religious marketplace. The secular stories that do get broadcast are most often volatile – secular people taking swipes at religious people – and reflect a divisive “us versus them” mentality. What gets told less often are the stories of people, secular and religious alike, living alongside one another peacefully and secular people expressing their own values within a diverse society. We want to hear more of these stories. We want to hear your story.

An example of the type of story we are looking for can be found here or here.

Categories / Prizes

There will be three categories for submission – Youth, Interfaith, and Moral Imagination. Each category will have a winner, as well as two runners-up. Please indicate your intended category(ies) when submitting.

  • share your secular storyYouth – This category is for submissions by individuals 25 years of age and under. The winner of this category will receive a DVD of “Fish Out of Water” autographed by director Ky Dickens and is eligible to have her or his piece published in the Washington Post’s “The Faith Divide,” Killing the Buddha, or Jettison Quarterly; the runners-up will each receive a signed copy of the album “Afterthoughts” by Ben Lundquist.
  • Interfaith – This category is for stories about engaging with religious people in a way that is positive and/or collaborative. The winner and runners-up of this category will each receive a copy of “Acts of Faith” autographed by author Eboo Patel, and the winner is eligible to have her or his piece published in the Washington Post’s “On Faith,” Killing the Buddha, or Jettison Quarterly.
  • Moral Imagination – This category is for stories about how secular values have motivated you toward social justice / civic engagement work, or just about values you hold as secularist. The winner and runners-up of this category will each receive a copy of “Good Without God” autographed by author Greg Epstein, and the winner is eligible to have her or his piece published in the Washington Post’s “On Faith,” Killing the Buddha or Jettison Quarterly.

Winners will be determined by a panel of guest judges (see below). All submitted stories are eligible for publication on NonProphet Status. By submitting a story, you agree that your story may be used for any of the aforementioned purposes.


Our submission period will be from March 1, 2010 (3/1/2010) to May 15 , 2010 (5/15/2010). You will hear back sometime after June 1, 2010. Please submit electronically only. Send your stories to: Include your name, age, and geographic location when submitting. Overseas submissions are welcome. Please submit in English. No simultaneous or multiple submissions.


Bill SchulzDR. WILLIAM SCHULZ, Author / Activist

Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, former President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, 2000 “Humanist of the Year”

“William Schulz… has done more than anyone in the American human rights movement to make human rights issues known in the United States.” – The New York Review of Books, June 2002.

As Executive Director of Amnesty International USA from 1994-2006, Dr. Schulz headed the American section of the world’s oldest and largest international human rights organization. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, where he works in the area of human rights policy. He is or has been a consultant to many institutions and foundations, including the UN Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, and Humanity United. During 2006-07 he served as a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. A frequent guest on television programs such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, Hardball and Nightline, Dr. Schulz is the author of two books on human rights; his most recent is Tainted Legacy: 9/11 and the Ruin of Human Rights (2003, Nation Books).

An ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, Dr. Schulz came to Amnesty after serving for fifteen years with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA), the last eight (1985-93) as President. Dr. Schulz has served on the boards of People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the International Association for Religious Freedom, the world’s oldest international interfaith organization. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the Board of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

Dr. Schulz has received a wide variety of honors, including seven honorary degrees, the Public Service Citation from the University of Chicago Alumni Association and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Oberlin College Alumni Association. He has been included in Vanity Fair’s 2002 Hall of Fame of World Nongovernmental Organization Leaders and was named “Humanist of the Year” by the American Humanist Association in 2000.

Sharon WelchDR. SHARON WELCH, Author / Academic

Dr. Sharon Welch is Provost and Professor of Religion and Society at Meadville Lombard Theological School (at the University of Chicago), Chicago, Illinois. She has held Professorships and Chaired Departments at the University of Missouri and Harvard Divinity School. Welch has been a Senior Fellow in the Center for Religion, the Professions, and the Public, a project leader of the Ford sponsored Difficult Dialogues Program and co-chair of the MU Committee for the Scholarship of Multicultural Teaching and Learning. Welch is currently a member of the International Steering Committee of Global Action to Prevent War. Dr. Welch is the author of five books, her most recent being Real Peace, Real Security: The Challenges of Global Citizenship (Fortress, 2008). She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Annual Gustavus Myers Award: Honorable Mention for her 1999 book, Sweet Dreams in America: Making Ethics and Spirituality Work (Routledge).

Says Dr. Mary McClintock Fulkerson (Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity School) of Dr. Welch: “I think of Welch as the best kind of activist/academic and consider her a role model… That she refuses to romanticize religious traditions, even as she attends with utter seriousness to the possibilities for liberative and humane possibilities for global life give Welch a kind of realistic wisdom unusual for an academic.”

Alvin LauALVIN LAU, Poet

Alvin Lau is a Chicago native, writer of poetry and prose, and proud son of Chinese immigrants. An avid competitor in poetry slams, he is the highest ranking Asian-American slam poet of all time and has won more high stakes poetry slams than any other poet in the world.

Alvin is a two-time champion of Brave New Voices: the National Youth Poetry Slam, a five-time national finalist and 2006 individual runner-up, a Pushcart Nominee, and in 2007 he was named “Poet of Conscience” by Amnesty International. His work has appeared across various media, including Rattle Magazine’s Tribute to Slam, the Poetry Foundation online, National Public Radio, numerous literary journals and anthologies, and the fifth and sixth seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.

Alvin is also part of Buddy Wakefield’s Bullhorn Collective, composed of the top 30 slam poets in the world. He has shared stages with Nikki Giovanni, Talib Kweli, Buddy Guy, and nearly every major performance poet in the canon.

Mary Ellen GiessMARY ELLEN GIESS, Interfaith Activist

Mary Ellen Giess works for the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) in their Strategic Partnerships program, where she works on policy initiatives and is responsible for much of IFYC’s campus outreach. She graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a Master’s Degree in Religion, Ethics, and Politics in 2006. Studying the intersection of religion and government through a multidisciplinary lens, Mary Ellen took classes at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School while interning at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard. Prior to attending HDS, Mary Ellen graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Religious Studies and Italian.

Nick MattosNICK MATTOS, Writer

Nick Mattos is a freelance writer, blogger, and columnist. Described by celebrity blogger Byron Beck as “the best gay writer in Portland, if not the Pacific Northwest,” the young author’s prose and fiction work has appeared in such publications as Mercury, New Queer Media, On Uneven Ground, and Out Spirit. His column “Remember to Breathe” runs biweekly in Just Out and on He is currently completing his first novel, tentatively titled The Place We Were Promised. A graduate of The Evergreen State College, Mr. Mattos resides in Portland, Oregon.

Erik RoldanERIK ROLDAN, DJ / Blogger

Erik Roldan is a Chicago native and blogs about queer culture at his online home Think Pink Radio (TPR). TPR documents Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender issues from a feminist, critical perspective and focuses on events in Chicago. Erik has been involved in local nonprofit radio for 7 years. He has worked at WLUW, produced audio for WBEZ Chicago Public Radio and and is a founding board member of the Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP), a grassroots organization promoting Low Power FM legislation. CHIRP streams live at and Erik is on the web-waves every Sunday from 12-3pm. He DJ’s every Friday night at Wang’s Bar in Lakeview and freelances in venues around Chicago, and a female rap over electro-house is his favorite type of music to spin.


Many thanks to our friends at Killing the BuddhaJettison Quarterly, the Interfaith Youth Core, the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard UniversityYellow Wing ProductionsEyeteeth Records and designers Michelle Ishikawa and Matthew Kennedy for their generosity, and to our esteemed panelists for their participation. Stay tuned here, at our Facebook page, and to our twitter for more updates on the contest. We can’t wait to read your stories!

Questions? Please write us at

non prophet statusshare your secular story