Patheos, where I run the Mormonism Portal, is sponsoring a Faith on Campus video contest in partnership with On Faith, the online feature from the Washington Post and Newsweek. The idea is for college students (undergrad or grad) who feel strongly about their religious beliefs to submit short videos, taking the general categories of “Why I am a ____”, “how I live my beliefs on campus”, or “rituals and practice of my faith.” Those don’t represent titles the videos should take (“Hi, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jake Smith, and my video is on Why I am a Mormon”), but videos will be grouped into those three categories for judging. The overall winner will receive $2500, and the three first-place winners of each category will receive $1000. Videos can be submitted through January 31, and will be judged by the following listed judges, as well as others, yet unannounced.
Craig Detweiler- Author/filmmaker, Pepperdine University
William Graham- Dean, Harvard Divinity School
Bard Hirschfield- Rabbi, Author, Blogger, Radio Host
Lisa Miller- Religion Editor, Newsweek
Sally Quinn- Co-founder, Washington Post’s On Faith
This is an opportunity to educate and participate in the public square, by putting a young college-oriented face to Mormonism. Sally Quinn, I think, has already seen an example of this. In her comments at the Pew Forum when Richard Bushman presented on Mormonism and Politics, she stated that her “one exposure to Mormonism” was Martha Beck’s somewhat fictional quasi-autobiography cum exposé Leaving the Saints (on which, if you’re not familiar with it, see her brother-in-law’s response). Some 18 months later, Quinn is present, interviewing Rachel Esplin, LDSSA President at Harvard, in a video that went viral, at least among LDS. Both Beck and Esplin attended Harvard, but Esplin was a live, thinking, and faithful example of Mormonism, not just words on a page. You too have the opportunity to change perceptions in the public sphere. Be the next positive face of Mormonism and earn a little money in the process.