Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: February 2014

Religious Freedom & Business Foundation president speaks at UN

19 Feb, 2014
ddressing a formal meeting at the United Nations in New York, Brian Grim, said that his studies show that where respect for religious freedom and diversity flourishes, so do economies and societies. 


NEW YORK – Last week, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation president, Brian Grim, spoke at the United Nations in New York. During the meeting, world religious leaders called for religious believers of the Earth to unite against the increasing misuse of religion by extremists for hostile and violent purposes.

The conference, titled “World Interfaith Harmony: Vital for Peace and Development, was co- sponsored with the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (AOC).

“The harsh fact is that turmoil exists in a number of countries around the world,” stated H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, who delivered a keynote speech for the third annual observance of World Interfaith Harmony Week. “Radical notions embodying a distorted perspective of religion often fuel acts of violence. But why? The idea that religion could be used to justify violence is a contradiction in itself.”

Dr. William F. Vendley, President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations, which co-sponsored the event said in his speech, “Today, we need to acknowledge that religion- related hostilities — harassment, intimidation and abuse —proliferate.”

However, Dr. Vendley, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, called interfaith harmony “perhaps the most powerful antidote to the rising tide of social hostility.”

The conference was held in the wake of a new and alarming report issued by the Pew Research Center, which found that the number of countries with religion-related terrorist violence has doubled over the past six years. “We religious believers must, first of all, acknowledge that our traditions are all too often being abused by extremists,” said Dr. Vendley. “Then, standing together across all religious differences, we must reject this abuse.”

However world religion leaders and experts said there is hope on the horizon.

Dr. Brian Grim, said that his studies show that where respect for religious freedom and diversity flourishes, so do economies and societies.

“The new promising players on the field are businesses, because it is in their interest —where religious freedom grows, so does business.”

Brazil Vice President Temer Supports Global Awards

12 Feb, 2014
Religious Freedom & Business Foundation launched it’s new work that includes a global awards competition for businesses to demonstrate how they advance religious freedom in their companies, societies and the world at large. The Global Awards competition was advanced in a series of high level meetings with government, business, societal and religious leaders in Brazil. Meetings also included Brazilian Olympic athletes.

8488514Brazil VP Temer with Foundation president Grim

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is changing tenor of the discussion on religious freedom – away from naming and shaming and towards finding solutions. Indeed, the flip side of the story is where solutions lie.

A recent Pew Research study documented that in more than three-quarters of countries, government and social initiatives are aiming to address rising religious restrictions and hostilities.

For instance, Brazil – a country now experiencing what is arguably the most dramatic peaceful religious change in world history (mass conversion from Catholicism largely to other Protestant faiths) – is emerging as a global innovator in rolling back the rising tide of global religious restrictions and hostilities that has swept the globe. (See more on religious freedom in Brazil.)

Just last week, planning began for a bold new global awards initiative to recognize businesses with successful initiatives to advance respect for religious freedom and diversity in their companies, societies and the world at large. Those expressing enthusiastic support include Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer, Senator Magno Malta and Brazil’s National Secretary for Human Rights, Biel Rocha, in addition to business leaders, human rights and interfaith organizations, as well as leading clergy, including Rio de Janeiro’s Archbishop Orani João Tempesta.


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New foundation promotes religious freedom as good for business – Deseret News

4 Feb, 2014


New foundation promotes religious freedom as good for business (Matthew Brown, Deseret News National Edition)

For more than a decade, Brian Grim has gathered and analyzed data about where religion is practiced and suppressed around the world.

His research shows a world where 84 percent of the population says it is religious, but where restrictions and hostilities against the freedom to practice one’s faith are rising. In 2012, the percentage of people living in countries where social hostilities and government restrictions against religion that are considered extreme climbed to 76 percent — a six-year high. …


Blog: Religious restrictions and hostilities hurt business: Pakistan and Egypt

2 Feb, 2014


The typical government response to religious hostilities is to tighten restrictions on religion. But, contrary to common perceptions, a solid body of empirical and historical research shows that piling on additional restrictions does not ensure peace and stability, but rather can fuel additional grievances. Indeed, research shows that the price of denying religious freedoms is far higher than protecting them.

Specifically, as social hostilities involving religion rise, government restrictions on religion rise, leading to more violence, setting up a religious violence cycle that become difficult to break, with direct adverse effects on business, foreign investment and world economies. Two examples help demonstrate how religious restrictions and hostilities are bad for business:

(1) Blasphemy Laws. Pakistan’s speech-restricting blasphemy laws often sow discord rather than the purported aim of promoting peace, as two high ranking government officials were recently assassinated for merely questioning the laws. These laws also have a direct negative impact on businesses. There are “recorded instances of business or personal rivals accusing each other of blasphemy to extract revenge for a past grievance. The blasphemy laws in Pakistan have not only been used in cases where individuals have been accused of specific blasphemies, they have also been used to ban websites like Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia because of content that would be considered sacrilegious” Tarin and Uddin 2013, p. 19).

(2) Egypt: Religious Violence Cycle & the Economy. The religious violence cycle is playing out today in Egypt in the back-and-forth social and political struggle between the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the coalition opposing them. Of course, this struggle directly impacts the important tourist industry, but it also drives away foreign investment. And this has adverse effects on foreign economies.

To end the cycle of religious violence and its negative impact, observers of post-Mubarak Egypt concluded that all factions in society – including Islamists – must feel that their voices are heard and that “special attention should be paid to the economy …” (Shaikh and Ghanem 2013, p. 2).

Also, as the role of women is debated within Islam and between Muslims in Egypt and countries ranging from Morocco and Iraq to Pakistan and Indonesia, religious restrictions on women also impact economic outcomes as the future health of economies is related to the economic opportunities afforded women. Furthermore, not only do religious restrictions have adverse effects on the economy, but a poor economy can reinforce religious intolerance, adding to the religious violence cycle. And perhaps most telling, as Egypt’s religion-related tensions have grown, Egypt’s young entrepreneurs desire to move outside the country rather put their hopes in their home.

Press Release: Brian Grim becomes Foundation president

1 Feb, 2014
After establishing and leading the widely acclaimed research on global religious restrictions at the Pew Research Center, Brian Grim will leave the Center on Feb. 1 to become the founding president of theReligious Freedom & Business Foundation.*

Grim will launch the new global foundation at a series of public events and planning meetings in Brazil.


The Foundation educates the global business community about how religious freedom is good for business, and engages the business community in joining forces with government and non-government organizations in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief. It envisions a future of innovative and sustainable economies where religious freedom and diversity are respected.

The Foundation’s work focuses on game-changing global initiatives in an increasingly religious world:

  • Business, Faith & Freedom Global Forums at World Expos (Milan 2015 & Astana 2017) that showcase faith’s role in inspiring successful business innovations that improve the world
  • Religious Freedom & Business Global Awards presented in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, the host city of the Olympic Games, for best business initiatives to improve respect for religious freedom
  • Sustainable and empowering businesses for religious minorities sponsored by investors who obtain positive financial and social returns on their investment
  • Executive training, workshops and symposiums on ways to implement policies that promote innovative and sustainable businesses where religious freedom and diversity are respected

The Foundation is the first organization dedicated to educating businesses about why religious freedom will enable them to be more productive and successful, and how they can effectively incorporate religious freedom in their strategic business plans for the benefit of their stake holders, their employees and society.

As Brian begins this new global endeavor, the work he started at Pew Research will continue.

Follow Brian on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and at his Weekly Number Blog

* The Foundation is a non-partisan charitable organization working with business people, academics, government officials and community leaders from multiple faiths (or of none) to accomplish its mission. The Foundation is a registered corporation and is applying for IRS recognition as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in the USA.