Free Expression Cartoon Contest Winners

The Council for Secular Humanism is pleased to announce—and to publish–the winning entrants in its Free Expression Cartoon Contest.

As part of its contribution to the Center for Inquiry’s Campaign for Free Expression, the Council for Secular Humanism invited professional and amateur artists to submit their sharpest, cleverest, and most ingenious creations touching on that most sensitive subject: religion. Entries were judged by a panel led by Steve Benson, the Pulitzer Prize–winning editorial cartoonist for the Arizona Republic. The winners are:

Professional Category

First Prize ($2,500): Alexander Matthews of Wokingham, Berkshire, U.K., for his one-panel cartoon “Altar Boys.” Benson said of this cartoon: “Wickedly humorous, brutally direct, effectively and simply rendered. A stinging indictment of the Catholic Church’s pedophilic priest scandal that allows absolutely no room for the predictable apologetic defense. Left me laughing and wincing at the same time!”

First prize (Professional): “Altar Boys” by Alexander Matthews.

Second Prize ($1,250): Doug Davis of Los Angeles, California, for his one-panel full-color cartoon “Memes.” Noted Benson: “Dramatic art of the empty-eyed victim who has fallen prey to what Richard Dawkins calls religion’s ‘virus of the mind.’ Employs the over-the-top hype of a B movie advertising billboard to make its point. Good use of contrast and color. Scary!”

Second prize (Professional): “Memes” by Doug Davis.

Third Prize ($750): Jack Pollock of Portland, Oregon, for his multipanel cartoon “Want a Less Secular, More Faithful America?” Benson said of this entry: “A sweeping commentary on the negative effects of religion on society—from law, to science, to war, to culture. Normally, I prefer more art to less text, but in this case the artist has combined both in a nice mix of humor and bite that exposes the ridiculousness of faith in daily, practical life. This cartoon requires concentration and an understanding of important current events, which is always a good thing!”

Third prize (Professional): “Want a Less Secular, More Faithful America?” by Jack Pollock.

Amateur Category

First Prize ($300): Matthew Medina of Woodinville, Washington, for his one-panel cartoon “Christian Nation.” Benson commented as follows: “A very powerful cartoon. Its central message of Christianity’s inherent brutality is driven home with stunning artwork of black-garbed, flag-carrying American Christian inquisitor-patriots water-boarding a crucified Jesus. The caricatures of Beck, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, and Hannity are rendered so well that identifying labels are not necessary. Excellent!”

First prize (Amateur): “Christian Nation” by Matthew Medina.

Second Prize ($125): “Elwin” of East Aurora, New York, for his one-panel cartoon “John the Baptist.” Said Benson: “Its unapologetically irreverent message drives the point home. John the Baptist using a dunk tank to immerse a nervous-looking membership candidate is absolutely hilarious, as it subtly jabs at the immense pressure put on people to fall in line and join the flock. I laughed out loud!”

Second prize (Amateur): “John the Baptist” by “Elwin”.

Third Prize ($75): Angelo Lopez of Sunnyvale, California, for his poster-style cartoon “Christian Fundamentalism.” Commented Benson: “The ‘Good Book’ headlock on healthy brain activity is simply and powerfully portrayed in this cartoon. The zombie-eyed stare of the true believer is particularly appropriate. Vise job!”

In addition, the editors wish to recognize the work of professional cartoonist Donna Barstow of Los Angeles, California, which was submitted and judged ineligible under the original rules for the Professional category but would have been eligible under the revised rules adopted in February 2010. Ms. Barstow has been granted the Editors’ Award in recognition of her two entries “Aliens” and “Grace.”

The Campaign for Free Expression is an ongoing project of the Center for Inquiry to focus efforts and attention on one of the most crucial components of freethought: the right of individuals to express their viewpoints, opinions, and beliefs about all subjects—especially religion. “As the great Danish cartoon controversy of 2005 and 2006 showed,” said Free Inquiry editor Tom Flynn, “few media can speak so eloquently—or so pointedly—on sensitive topics as a cartoon.”

Professional-category prizes were underwritten by a generous grant from the Andrew Norman Foundation.


The Council for Secular Humanism is pleased to announce—and to publish–the winning entrants in its Free Expression Cartoon Contest. As part of its contribution to the Center for Inquiry’s Campaign for Free Expression, the Council for Secular Humanism invited professional and amateur artists to submit their sharpest, cleverest, and most ingenious creations touching on that …

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