Melissa E. Grim, Research Associate
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.
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.