Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Economic & Business Case for Freedom of Religion or Belief – UN NGO Event

29 Nov, 2014
It is widely known, though unfortunately often rejected, that societies which respect and protect the rights to freedom of religion or belief experience less conflict and violence, and enjoy greater social harmony. But were you aware that new research suggests such societies also see better economic outcomes?

EVENT: Wednesday, December 10, 2014, from 2 to 4 p.m., in the Bahá’í International Community United Nations Office, located at 866 UN Plaza (Suite 120), New York, NY 10017. To RSVP, please email

Brian Grim United Nations

Over the past year, this newfound connection between religious freedom and economic growth has received much focus and attention. Just how important is it to foster respect by businesses for religious freedom? How are state and non-state actors working to engage businesses to promote the rights to freedom of religion or belief? And how can civil society groups get involved?

To consider and address these questions, the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief in New York will host a panel discussion on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 featuring Dr. Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, with responses from Prof. Silvio Ferrari, an expert on freedom of religion and the law, and Jeffrey French, an expert in the peacemaking potential of business.

Each speaker will provide brief remarks, leading into a discussion moderated by Michael De Dora, president of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

More information on the speakers:

  • Brian J. Grim, Ph. D., is President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. In addition, he is a member of the World Economic Forum’s council on the role of faith; an advisor for the religion & geopolitics project of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation; an associate scholar at the Religious Liberty Project at Georgetown University; and an affiliated scholar at Boston University’s Institute on Culture, Religion & World Affairs. He previously directed the Pew Research Center’s project to collect and analyze global data on religion.
  • Silvio Ferrari, Ph. D., is Professor of Canon Law at the University of Milan and a member of the Advisory Council on Freedom of Religion and Belief for the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Ferrari is also Life Honorary President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies and is an Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.
  • Jeffrey French is the Project Manager of Business for Peace at the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate citizenship initiative. In this role he manages the day-to-day workstreams of a program dedicated to assisting companies implement responsible business practices in high-risk areas. Prior to joining the Global Compact, Mr. French worked for five years at a non-profit that specialized in developing systems and services to prevent armed conflict, with an emphasis on Somalia. Mr. French received his Masters degree in International Development from Oxford University and also holds a dual honors degree in political science and history from the University of Colorado – Boulder.

Notre Dame University and Witherspoon Institute Blogs Cite Research of RFBF Scholars

25 Nov, 2014
Check out the new blogs for a discussion of research from the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation scholars.

Brian Grim Notre Dame University Dan Philpott

Religious Freedom: The Indispensable Work of Brian Grim
by Daniel Philpott
Notre Dame University | Center for Civil & Human Rights

Some of the most important arguments for religious freedom come from the work of scholar Brian Grim and his collaborators. Grim teamed up with sociologist Roger Finke to write The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century. One of the most interesting arguments there is that religious freedom is correlated with a whole range of other good things. They make a strong argument, for instance, that the restriction of religious freedom is correlated with violence.  

Now, Grim is making the case that religious freedom is good for business — and hence for economic growth, which in turns encourages stability and peace in a virtuous cycle. He has founded the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation to promote the idea.  Explore the links here to see what he is up to.

Brian Grim Witherspoon Institute

Connecting Religious and Economic Liberty
by  Dylan Pahman

In a recent article in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, Brian Grim, Greg Clark, and Robert Edward Snyder published their findings that “religious freedom contributes to better economic and business outcomes and that advances in religious freedom are in the self-interest of businesses, government, and societies by contributing to successful and sustainable enterprises that benefit societies and individuals.” Grim et al. demonstrate a strong connection between religious freedom and economic growth. This raises another question: does religious freedom also correlate with economic liberty?

In this essay, I compare data from the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom with the Pew 2012 Government Restrictions on Religion Index and the 2012 Social Hostilities Toward Religion Index … read the entire article.

Pasquale Annicchino on Pope Francis at the EU

24 Nov, 2014
Pope Francis spoke today at the European Parliament. Pasquale Annicchino gave interviews in three languages for Aleteia, a major Vatican information news site.

Pope Francis Religious Freedom & Business FoundationAnnicchino & Pope Francis

Pope Francis will visit the seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday, a one-day visit that will include an address to the parliament as well as the Council of Europe.

But with this visit, is the Church interfering in the political life of States — and the European Union — or is the Pope’s visit an opportunity for encounter and dialogue?

German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), has underlined that Pope Francis, through his visit to the European Parliament, “is signaling his support and encouragement of the pursuit of the integration and unity of Europe.” The dialogue between religious confessions and regarding religious liberty play an important role in this process.

Aleteia asked Dr. Pasquale Annicchino to help us understand several aspects of EU policy related to religious freedom, and the impact of the Pope’s visit may have for this important Institution.




Media covers religious freedom & business around G20 summit

16 Nov, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Media coverage of religious freedom & business during the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia.

NEW: Brian Grim interviewed on his book with Roger Finke, The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution & Conflict in the 21st Century (Cambridge University Press)

Brian Grim G20 Brisbane

Thrilling Traction for Religious Freedom & Business at G20, World Economic Forum & UN

14 Nov, 2014

Letter from the PresidentDear Friends and Colleagues,

“Thrilling” isn’t usually associated with religious freedom. Yet, thrilling best describes the response of major international organizations and business, government and religious leaders to good business playing an instrumental role in supporting interfaith understanding, peace and religious freedom.

Of course, much work needs to be done, but this new traction suggests that responsible business has the power not only to create a global future of innovative and sustainable economies but also a future where religious freedom and diversity are respected.

Please join me on this amazing journey described below. And, if you’re able, join me at the UN in New York on December 10, where I’ll give a further update!

Brian Grim
Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

PS: If you’d like weekly updates, you can sign up here.

Brian Grim G20 BrisbaneG20, Brisbane

G20 Interfaith SummitI am currently on a four-city speaking and media tour of Australia in conjunction with the G20 meetings underway today in Brisbane where world leaders are discussing new approaches to ensure economic growth is sustained in the years ahead that lifts people out of poverty.

On Australian national and local radio I’ve been discussing how religious freedom is an essential component of sustainable economic growth, because when citizens of all faiths are active members of a society and draw inspiration from their faith, innovation and motivation increases exponentially.

Last night, as part of the “Important Conversations” series, I discussed my recent blog at the World Economic Forum (see below) on how business impact investment among religiously persecuted groups, such as Christians in the Middle East or Dalits in Nepal and Pakistan, not only empowers these marginalized groups, but also removes space that otherwise might be controlled by terrorist movements, such as ISIS.

On Monday, I’ll be speaking at the G20 Interfaith Summit that brings together some of the best minds from around the world to discuss how faith matters in creating economies that are sustainable and ethical. This inaugural event aims to annually accompany the G20 Leaders Summit. Next year’s G20 summit is in Turkey.

Later next week, I’ll speak to the Trustees Meeting of the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), then to students and faculty at Notre Dame Law School (Sydney) and Adelaide University Law School.

In each of these, I’ll discuss the empirical research showing that freedom of religion or belief, when protected by governments and respected by citizens, results not only in less conflict and violence but also in better social and economic outcomes, including better lives for women. A corollary to this is that business respect for and encouragement of interfaith understanding pays dividends in peace and stability as well as provides benefits to the bottom line.

Brian Grim World Economic ForumWorld Economic Forum

World Economic Forum (WEF) – Role of Faith Council

And the founder and executive director of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, invited the members of the “role of faith” council – which I am a member of and our Board member, Chris Seiple chairs – to participate in a private dinner at the recent WEF meeting in Dubai with former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Also attending were former President of Ghana, John Kufuor, former president of the American Bar Association, Laurel Bellows, Catholic Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Nigeria, and Sojourner’s President and Founder Jim Wallis.Brazilian billionaire and new member of the WEF role of religion council, Carlos W. Martins, was so inspired by the connection between religious freedom and business, that he produce a short video to tell the world of the connection.This was part of the 3-day Global Agenda Council meeting, where the role of religion council was given the mandate to develop a toolkit that will help businesses understand how religion impacts business and the economy. Much of the work of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation can directly contribute to accomplishing this thrilling mission. For instance, see my recent WEF Blog.

Brian Grim UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moonUN’s Ban-Ki-moon

United Nations Business for Peace & New YorkIn follow-up to a series of successful partnering events with the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace initiative, including a global webinar and a publication launched together with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, I’ll be speaking on the economic and business case for religious freedom, hosted by the freedom of religion or belief NGO committee at the United Nations in New York on Dec. 10 at 2PM at 866 UN Plaza (Suite 120).

Jeffrey French of Business for Peace, and Prof. Silvio Ferrari of Milan and Princeton Universities will comment on my presentation. For more information on this event, contact:

Michael De Dora
NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief


Religious Freedom & Business Discussed at WEF and G20 Events

10 Nov, 2014
Over the next two weeks, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation President Brian Grim is discussing the potential and practice of business as a powerful force for supporting interfaith understanding and peace at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith in Dubai and taking the same message to meetings around the G20 in Australia.

Brian Grim World Economic Forum DubaiGrim at WEF, Dubai

WEF Global Agenda Council

Established in 2008, the Network of Global Agenda Councils is an invitation-only knowledge network – considered the world’s largest thinktank – 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 Role of Religion Council is meeting to plan for a global strategy on how business can better navigate religious issues as well as be a positive force for supporting interfaith dialogue and peace.

Grim also participated in a private Global Citizenship dinner with former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and WEF Founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab (see pictures). Also attending were former President of Ghana, John Kufuor, former president of the American Bar Association, Laurel Bellows, Catholic Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Nigeria, and Sojourner’s President and Founder Jim Wallis.


Brown & Schwab



Onaiyekan & Wallis
G20 Economic Forum – Brisbane, Australia
Grim will speak at several events surrounding the G20. The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for its members’ international economic cooperation and decision-making. Its membership comprises 19 countries plus the European Union. Each G20 president invites several guest countries each year.


Grim’s will be a keynote speaker at “Important Conversations,” the G20 Interfaith Summit, the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Notra Dame Law School, Sydney, and Adelaide University Law School.

Grim is discussing his research that empirically shows that freedom of   religion or belief, when protected by governments and respected by citizens, results not only in less conflict and violence but also in better social and economic outcomes, including better lives for women. He is also discussing his new research on how business respect for and encouragement of interfaith understanding pays dividends in peace and stability as well as provides benefits to the bottom line.

Why Religious Freedom is Good for Business & Business is Good for Religious Freedom – Lecture

3 Nov, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: The UM Forum on Religion & Public Life | University of Miami | Nov. 3 | 7:30PMReligion continues to grow globally, with nearly 90% of the world’s population projected to be affiliated with religion in 2030. At the same time, there has been a dramatic rise in the level of religious restrictions and hostilities.

Religious Freedom & Business president, Brian Grim, will discuss the results of his research demonstrating that religious freedom results in better business and economies and that business respect for religious freedom pays dividends in peace and stability, and the bottom line.

To register for the free event: go to or contact the Department of Religious Studies: 305.284.4733/

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