Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: April 2014

Brian Grim’s Seminar at Russia’s National ResearchNuclear University MEPhI

30 Apr, 2014

On April 30, 2014, Dr. Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, held a seminar on “Religious Freedom – Secular, Spiritual, Public” at our university [Russia’s National Research Nuclear University MEPhI]. At the beginning of the seminar, he noted that NRNU MEPhI is a good model of how to overcome the existing problems of religion in the field of science and business. [MEPhI has just launched a Theology Department, opened a chapel for students, and encouraged application of theology and ethics to professional and scientific life (see post).] In turn, Rector of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI Mikhail Strikhanov confirmed the relevance of the event and emphasized the importance of the relationship between science and religion, especially in the field of education of young people.

The first part of the seminar “Evolving Religion and Growing Restrictions on Religion” provided an overview of the world’s religious and non-religious populations. First, Brian Grim talked about his research, in which the first question is the idea of ​​religion in general.

He studied the opinion of people in most countries of the world, learning what is meant by this concept; collected and accumulated qualitative and quantitative data, which made it possible to draw interesting conclusions (for example, that Christianity is currently not a predominantly European religion and there is a clear relationship between religion and population), as well as predict the future of religion in general. The question of the difference between the concepts of “religious identity” was discussed, “religious nationalism” and “religious fanaticism”, an analysis was made of the reasons for the increase in restrictions on religion at the government level, as well as the number of religious social conflicts taking place around the world, as well as the lessons to be learned from the events of the “Arab spring”.

In the second part of the seminar “Secular – Spiritual Formulations of Religious Freedoms” the similarities and differences of these formulations were considered.

And the third part of the event was devoted to the discussion of pragmatic formulations of religion and freedom of worship. Religious economics theory, and more recent work in this area, has focused on how religious freedom is linked to a range of social and economic benefits. The workshop participants discussed the strengths and weaknesses of this approach and tried to answer the question: is religious freedom a cause or a consequence of positive social and economic outcomes or simply relates to them. The last issue under consideration concerned the study of the consequences of religious freedoms for politics, social institutions and business, if religious freedom is indeed interconnected with socio-economic outcomes.

Turning Waste to Wealth – A Strategy to Reverse Discrimination

27 Apr, 2014
Religious Freedom & Business Foundation President Brian Grim held a series of meetings in Finland and Norway to discuss the “waste to wealth” sustainability initiative of the Foundation.

7552448Grim with Jokinen at MOLOK factory

In Finland, Grim was accompanied by Brazilian businessman, Carlos Martins. Their meetings were arranged by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM), with the aim of initiating planning for a sustainable business in Pakistan and/or Nepal among theDalit communities.

Dalits are members of the so-called untouchable Hindu caste, and are often marginalized in communities where they live. A number of Dalits in India, Pakistan and Nepal have converted to other faiths, including Christianity. They continue to be among the poorest of the poor in many locations where they live, sometimes negatively stereotyped and consigned to collect garbage.

Turning this negative stereotype into an opportunity, potential partners held preliminary meetings to explore grass roots waste collection and recycling enterprises in Dalit areas. The criteria include that the projects must be locally sustainable, part of a broader community development plan, and involve international partners who receive not only a return on their investment, but learn new business innovations from the project itself.

Such projects help struggling minority communities acquire not only economic resources but also social capital that better integrates them within the societies in which they live.

The meetings were multi-disciplinary, including leaders from research, innovation, technology, government and business sectors. For instance, Grim met with Managing Director Hannu Jokinen (pictured above) of the waste management company MOLOK in Nokia, Finland. MOLOK developed an innovative and efficient waste management system that reduces disease, smell and costs, with work throughout the world including in developing countries such as Namibia.

MOLOK is a potential partner for the Foundation’s “waste-to-wealth” project that will eventually include recycling and construction firms, academic research groups and development agencies partnering with local entrepreneurs among Dalit communities.

Grim went on from Finland to Oslo, Norway, where he briefed leading members of Parliament and the foreign secretary on these initiatives. He also met with Per Leif Saxegaard, Chairman of the Business for Peace Foundation. Grim also delivered a keynote talk at the annual meeting of Stefanus Alliance International, a Christian-based human rights organization working for freedom of religion or belief for people of any faith or belief.

Foundation to hold meetings in Helsinki, Finland

18 Apr, 2014
Press Release
Melissa E. Grim

Religious Freedom & Business Foundation President Brian Grim is visiting Finland, as part of its sustainability initiative to participate in discussions on how business and scientific endeavors can foster religious freedom while creating an economic return.


Grim is accompanied by Brazilian businessman Carlos Martins for a series of meetings in Helsinki, Finland, on April 21 to 23, 2014.

The Finish Evangelical Lutheran Mission will be hosting discussions on the potential public and private partnerships in the recycling business benefitting marginalized groups in developing countries while fostering human rights and freedom of religion. They will meet with the Molok recycling company, which has businesses in places such as Namibia and India.

Among other events in Finland on April 22, 2014, Grim and Martins will meet with Mika Venamaki, Senior Economic Adviser at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. They will also meet with Sara Lindeman, Project Manager at Aalto University for Design, Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Science (renewable energy technologies).

Grim and Martins will also meet with the BYU Management Society on April 23, 2014. Other meetings will be with H.E. Norton de Andrade Mello Rapesta, Ambassador of Brazil to Finland, and lectures at the Annual Assembly of the Suomen Liikemiesten Lahetysliito to about forty Finish business people/executives.

After these meetings, Grim will speak at high level events in Oslo, Norway, and lecture in Moscow, Russia, on the connection between religious freedom and positive socio-economic outcomes.

BBC and Council on Foreign Relations interviews Grim

14 Apr, 2014
Press Release
Melissa E. Grim, Research Associate


Religious Freedom & Business Foundation President Brian Grim was interviewed by the BBC where he discussed the issue of religious freedom in Oman and Pakistan on April 5, 2014.

In the interview, he notes that restrictions on religion, such as the prohibition against defamation of religion, while implemented with the intent to protect and promote respect, can often lead to a rise in social hostilities. For instance in Pakistan, there was a case of business rivals accusing each other of blasphemy for economic gain, both looking for the other to be punished for defamation.

This leads Grim to have concern for the accumulation of religious restrictions in nations such as Oman. The nation has a law with a ten year sentence for defamation of religion, as in the case of Pakistan, could lead to a rise in social hostilities that impact business.


Foundation President Grim also held a phone conference with the Council on Foreign Relations on April 2, 2014. He took questions from numerous callers. 

In his opening segment he talked about how the research he did on global religious restrictions and hostilities led him to leave the Pew Research Center and found the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. Grim cited more than three decades worth of experience and evidence showing that nations with lower governmental and societal restrictions on religion are stronger and healthier than more restrictive nations. 

Interestingly though, Grim notes that while government officials, NGO representatives, religious groups and civil society members are paying attention, business leaders are absent from the discussion, even though businesses have a lot to gain because religious freedom is tied to economic growth. 

The Foundation aims to work with existing businesses and start-ups. Where a minority religion may be socially marginalized, Grim encourages the approach of looking to where there is an economic need in society and working with the minority to facilitate a sustainable solution, bringing both social and economic benefits to them and the larger society.

Press inquiries welcome.

Join RFBF President Grim for Council on Foreign Relations Conference Call – April 2

2 Apr, 2014


2 April 2014: Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, to speak at the Council on Foreign Relations conference call series.On behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), I invite you to participate in the next session of the CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series on Wednesday, April 2, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. (ET). Dr. Brian J. Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation (RFBF), will lead the conversation on a recent study by the Pew Research Center that indicates religious hostilities have reached a six-year peak.

Prior to joining RFBF, Brian J. Grim was a senior research fellow for religion and world affairs at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Dr. Grim has also worked for two decades as an educator, researcher, and development coordinator in the former Soviet Union, China, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. He is an author of “The Price of Freedom Denied,” as well as numerous research articles and academic books on global religion.

As background for the discussion, you may wish to review the aforementioned study undertaken by the Pew Research Center, “Religious Hostilities Reach Six-Year High,” available at . Additionally, we encourage you to visit Dr. Grim’s blog “the Weekly Number,” available at 

If you would like to join the discussion, you may reply to this email or call Rick Chilton at 212.434.9678, and we will send you the toll free dial-in number and password. This invitation is transferable, but limited to religious leaders and scholars; we invite you to forward it to any colleagues who might be interested.

Best regards,

Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach,

Council on Foreign Relations, 58 East 68th Street, New York, New York 10065      ______________________________________________________________

The CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series seeks to engage religious and congregational leaders, scholars, and thinkers from across the country in cross-denominational conversations on global issues. Each call, led by a CFR expert and/or religious community leader, provides a nonpartisan forum for discussion on a broad range of pressing international issues. To access archived audio of calls in this series, along with a wealth of timely CFR content, visit: