share your secular storyWe’ve been hinting that something exciting has been in the works for the past couple weeks; well, folks, the day is finally here.

We are so excited to announce the Share Your Secular Story contest, a call for stories by NonProphet Status!

We’re seeking previously unpublished personal stories written from a secular (Secular Humanist, Atheist, Agnostic, et al.) perspective. The stories of secular people are scattered because we as a people are scattered. 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.

PRIZES: We are thrilled to offer a wealth of exciting prizes, including a ton of signed gear (DVDs, CDs, and books) from Harvard University Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein, Interfaith Youth Core founder Eboo Patel, filmmaker Ky Dickens and musician Ben Lundquist. On top of that, a couple of the winning selections will be eligible for publication in the Washington Post’s “The Faith Divide” and Jettison Quarterly. Visit the contest page to hear more about our awesome giveaways!

PANEL OF JUDGES: We are also so very enthusiastic about our esteemed panel of judges featuring Dr. William Schulz, former director of Amnesty International USA and 2000 “Humanist of the Year,” academic Dr. Sharon Welch, superstar slam poet Alvin Lau, Interfaith Youth Core’s Mary Ellen Giess, writer Nick Mattos and DJ Erik Roldan. Check out the contest page to learn more about this all-star line up!

You can access the full details of the contest here. Click here to download a PDF of contest details; you can download it as a Word Document here. The submission period opens in one week on March 1, 2010. Spread the word, and don’t hesitate to contact us at nonprophetstatus@gmail.com with any questions you may have.

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!

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Last night I attended the launch event for the new One Chicago, One Nation Initiative, at the Chicago Cultural Center and had an incredible time. The initiative, a collaboration between the Interfaith Youth Core, IMAN (Inner-City Muslim Action Network), Link TV, the Chicago Community Trust, and One Nation, was formally launched with a program that featured a diverse lineup of inspiring speakers including IFYC founder Eboo Patel, IMAN founder Rami Nashashibi, Chaplain Dr. Javier Orozco of DePaul University, Link TV Vice President Wendy Hanamura, United Congress Convener Rev. Patricia Watkins, Journalist Bill Kurtis, and others, including youth from Imagine Englewood If and the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, who shared testimonials of the incredible interfaith work they are doing. The evening also featured entertaining performances by slam poet Kevin Coval (a talented writer and excellent performer), comedian Azhar Usman, Seneke Ensemble, local breakdancers, DJ David Chavez, the Duzan Ensemble and, most impressively, two young women who perform rap and singing under the moniker Indigo. Across the board, I was engaged, entertained and inspired. The New York Times ran a good piece on the event today.

The film contest runs until Friday, April 23, 2010. Accepted videos are up to 5:00 (five minutes) in length (except for “Under 60 seconds” category). Film categories include: comedy, drama, documentary, under 60 seconds, music video/spoken word/animation, and mobile digital media (phones, mp3s/iPods, Flip cameras). The grand prize winner receives $20,000 and each category winner receives $5,000. There are many ways to get involved in this initiative; please spread the word! To learn more, visit their website.

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