Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: June 2014

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion Reviews Johnson & Grim book

25 Jun, 2014
Anne Goujon, Research Group Leader, Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global Human Capitol, Vienne Austria, writing in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion gave a positive review of Grim’s bookThe World’s Religions in Figures: An Introduction to International Religious Demography, co-authored with Todd Johnson.


Goujon writes the book is “a must read for one interested in the field of international religious demography.” The review states that in the 21st century “(w)within which religion is an omnipresent factor, international religious demography has become the key provider of scientific knowledge relevant for a debate ‘driven by anecdotes and conjectures’” and “the book is one of the first important bricks in the wall of studies about international religious demography.” The review notes that one of the merits of the book is that it takes a truly global perspective towards religious populations, instead of maintaining a European or North American approach. Additionally the statistical section “considers the entire population, including the unaffiliated, irrespective of whether they are agnostic, atheists, or simply do not identify with the religious institutions in place.”

The book is now available for purchase.

Coke Serves Up Love and Peace with Small World Machines

21 Jun, 2014

by Melissa Grim

Last year, Coke brought some laughter and joy to a region that has seen more than its share of conflict when it installed two Small World Machines in New Delhi, India, and Lahore, Pakistan.

Long separated by a border that has seen a number of wars and religiously charged rhetoric, ordinary Indians and Pakistanis were able to use the machines’ live video feeds and large 3D touch screens to speak to and even “touch” the person on the other side.

As a three-minute advertisement by Coca-Cola shows, suspicions dropped away as people from opposite sides of the border who had never met exchanged peace signs, touched hands, and even danced together. (Coke’s YouTube video has over 4.3 million views.)

The idea came about as Coke, which already has a strong market share in India, was looking to increase sales in Pakistan. But instead of addressing both nations as separate markets, the company decided to treat the two countries as one after its teams on the ground said that Indians and Pakistanis were open to more dialogue and communication. This ultimately led to the Small World Machines and the coming together of people of different faiths divided by a history of mistrust and violence

The project required months of extensive cooperation between company teams in India and Pakistan who, ironically, only met “in person” when the Small World Machines went live. Technological issues and even security threats caused delays. But in March 2013, the machines went live in two popular shopping malls, allowing over 100 participants to meet and interact with someone on the other side of one of the most heavily guarded borders in the world.

Coca-Cola’s global creative director said the idea behind the campaign was about “creating stories around shared experiences” in a way that “goes back to the roots of Coke as a brand that started at a soda fountain – itself a communal experience.” With this goal in mind, Coca-Cola asked ad agency Leo Burnett to find “new, open-hearted ways for people to come together, while highlighting the power of happiness.” Thinking of a way to show the positive role a brand can play in society, the Leo Burnett agency developed the idea of the Small World Machines. However, the technology did not yet exist for web camera communication where people at one machine could interact with those at another as if they were merely separated by a piece of glass. This led Leo Burnett to create innovative new technology that simulates this in-person experience.

While some have been skeptical that Coca-Cola’s campaign will have any long-term impact on relations between India and Pakistan, the company believes the campaign is a step in the right direction. Coke also plans to bring the Small World Machines to other nations to help bridge other conflicts. Jackie Jantos, Coke’s Global Creative Director, said that the positive reaction to the campaign shows that listening to the market’s desire for increased positivity and connectivity was the right move. “It was wonderful to have our teams validate that this was the time for this message,” she said, adding: “Waving hello to someone in a land that is not so far away, but feels like it, was amazing.”,

* This is the first in a series of case studies highlighting how companies – in their core business activities – can help reduce religious and cultural tensions, increase social understanding, and promote peace. This case study does not imply an endorsement of Coca-Cola or it’s products. The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has no tie to the Coca-Cola company.

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Oxford Journal of Law and Religion Summer Academy

17 Jun, 2014
The Second Annual Oxford Journal of Law and Religion Summer Academy will be held 23-28 June 2014 at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford. The summer academy is a major international event that brings together leading academics, policy makers, international officials, and practicing lawyers working in the field of law, religion, and international relations.


Brian Grim and Pasquale Annicchino will be speaking at the event titled Sacred and Secular Varieties of Secularism and International Religious Freedom from the Perspectives of Comparative Law, International Law and Foreign Policy.

Annicchino will speak on 23 June 17, 2014, presenting his article “Is the European Union Joining the International Religious Freedom Bandwagon?” under the panel of Religion and Foreign Policy – Emerging Trends. He will also chair a panel June 24 on International Law and Foreign Affairs – European Perspectives. Annicchino will be representing the European University Institute, Florence.

Grim will speak on 25 June, presenting his journal article “Religious Freedom’s Link to Economic Growth,” under the panel of Religion, Business and Foreign Policy. Grim represents the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

Full program here.

Foundation President Appointed to World Economic Forum Religion Council

16 Jun, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: June 16Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, has invited Religious Freedom & Business Foundation President Brian Grim to become a Member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith for 2014-2016. (See Grim’s articles at the Global Agenda Council.)

The focus of the Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith in the upcoming term will be to raise awareness of the unique added value of faith by identifying and developing the main pillars of an informational program on how to leverage socio-cultural, cross-faith and religious engagement for conflict prevention and conflict transformation.

This effort will be targeted to two sets of stakeholders:

(1) Countries/public authority (e.g., countries experiencing recent phenomena of immigration; countries with internal conflicts and/or restrictions on freedom of beliefs/religion); and

(2) International companies and professionals, particularly those working in emerging markets and conflict affected regions.

Established in 2008, the Network of Global Agenda Councils is an invitation-only knowledge network that serves as an international brain trust to the World Economic Forum and the world at large.The Network gives its Members a unique platform to support the Forum’s vision to better understand and catalyze global, regional and industry transformation.

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and IGE Formalize Partnership

12 Jun, 2014
Washington, DC – (June 12, 2014) On 6 June 2014, Presidents and Seiple of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) and the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalizing the partnership between the two like-minded organizations that seek to build religious freedom worldwide.

5850777Grim & Seiple

“In line with the RFBF’s mission to ‘engage the business community in joining forces with government and non-government organizations in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief’, IGE’s “track 1.5” approach, working at the nexus of governments and grassroots organizations, will complement the efforts of the RFBF. Having worked alongside Seiple and IGE for many years now, I am excited to see the fruit of our official partnership,” noted Grim.  

In order to enhance the breadth of both institutions and discover new synergies and efficiencies, IGE and RFBF agreed to work together in good faith to expand existing programs and initiatives as well as create new ones. Potential areas of collaboration include, but are not limited to: A certificate program on international religious freedom promotion and socially responsible global business, offered in conjunction with one or more respected business schools; special issues of The Review of Faith & International Affairs (RFIA) on select themes; and, film documentaries of success stories of businesses that have made a difference for religious freedom.

“I greatly respect the work of my colleague and friend, Brian Grim. I look forward to deepening our working relationship through this MOU. Our organizations share a commitment to freedom of conscience or belief and track record of practical and mutually reinforcing innovation in this field,” commented Seiple following the signing of the MOU.  

Formalizing such a partnership is a natural extension of existing synergies. Grim and the RFBF provide the quantitative metrics while Seiple and IGE provide the qualitative experiences. In addition to the formal partnership between the two institutions, Dr. Seiple also serves on Dr. Grim’s Board of Directors. Grim is a member of the Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group, through the Federal Advisory Committee initiated by Secretary Clinton, of which Dr. Seiple serves as Senior Advisor. Grim was also recently invited to join the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Role of Faith where Dr. Seiple serves as Chair.

British Parliament: Briefing on Religious Freedom’s Link to Economic Growth June 10

4 Jun, 2014
British Parliament, London, June 10, 2014 – Today,Religious Freedom & Business Foundation President Brian Grim discussed a new study finding that religious freedom is one of only three factors significantly associated with global economic growth.

1402462515Grim at UK Parliament

The study, by researchers at Georgetown University and Brigham Young University, looked at GDP growth for 173 countries in 2011 and controlled for two-dozen different financial, social, and regulatory influences.

The briefing was open to Members of Parliament and the public. Lord Alton of Liverpool hosted the event at 11:00 AM, Committee Room 3A. The briefing follows the June 9 launch of the new website of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on International Religious Freedom.

Brian J. Grim is an author of the study, President of the RF&B Foundationand researcher on the economics working group of Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project. Grim is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith for 2014-2016.