The positive contributions of religious freedom to society generated significantly greater interest than the problems of religious freedom, based on analysis of social media engagement in 2014.
Of course, there was much to be concerned about in 2014 (see recent op-ed
by Brian Grim & Robert Smith), but this current analysis provides evidence that a solutions-based approach to religious freedom will change the religious freedom paradigm from one of problems to opportunities.Based on a study of the stories published by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation
and The Weekly Number,
here are the 5 stories from 2014 that garnered the most interested.
2.9 K “Likes”
1. Religious Freedom Linked to Peace, Finds New Global Study
A new report from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) in conjunction with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation challenges the myth of religious violence.* The study found no general causal relationship between religion and conflict when looking at all of the current conflicts in the world.
The study found that countries with greater religious freedoms are generally more peaceful, whereas countries with less religious freedom are generally less peaceful. Additionally, the most influential factor affecting religious freedom is the government type. Full democracies are the most peaceful and have the greatest level of religious freedom, regardless of the type of religious belief or various religious characteristics.
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2. The Link Between Economic and Religious Freedoms
On the World Economic Forum’s blog, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation president, Brian Grim, overviewed research indicating that freedom of religion or belief has the following effects: Reduced corruption: Research finds that laws and practices that exclude religion are related to higher levels of corruption. More peace: When religious freedoms are not respected, the result can be violence and conflict.
Less harmful regulation: Some religious restrictions can directly affect economic activity, creating legal barriers for import and export industries, such as the halal food market. Reduced liabilities: Stocks of Abercrombie & Fitch, for instance, dropped when news broke that the clothing retailer had allegedly refused to hire a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf, potentially a violation of American equal opportunity employment laws.
More diversity and growth: Minorities often are drivers of economic innovation and growth. For instance, a new study in the China Economic Review finds a link between Christianity, adhered to by some 5% of China’s population, and the nation’s economic growth.
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3. More than 8-in-10 People Hold Religious Beliefs, and It’s RisingResearch from Brill’s Yearbook of International Religious Demography shows religious adherents of all faiths are globally on the rise.* The rise is largely due to the collapse of Communism, which sought to eradicate religion.More than eight-in-ten people today follow a religion, and even among those who don’t, many still hold some spiritual beliefs or engage in some religious practices. Continued growth of religious populations appears likely, as they are younger on average than the world’s religiously unaffiliated population.
- Religionists account for 88.4% of the world’s population in 2013, up from 80.8% in 1970, according to the book.
- The world is becoming increasingly religious, from about 80% in 1970, projected to be over 90% by 2030.
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4. Religious Freedom Linked to Economic Growth, Finds Global Study
Freedom of belief is one of three factors significantly associated with global economic growth, according to a recent study by researchers at Georgetown University and Brigham Young University.* The study looked at the GDP growth of 173 countries in 2011 and controlled for two-dozen different financial, social and regulatory influences.The study also finds a positive relationship between religious freedom and 10 of the 12 pillars of global competitiveness, as measured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index.
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5. Ban Ki-moon Receives Religious Freedom & Business Foundation Joint Publication with UNGC
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon received “BUSINESS: A Powerful Force for Supporting Interfaith Understanding and Peace,” a new joint publication by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and the UN Global Compact Business for Peace platform.* It was released at the UN Alliance of Civilizations Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, during a side event organized by the Indonesia Global Compact Network.The publication covers emerging business approaches to interfaith understanding and peace, including: Using Marketing Expertise to Bridge Borders, Incentivizing Innovation; Incubating and Catalyzing Social Entrepreneurship; and Supporting Workforce Diversity.
* See links to the original stories for links to sources and authors of the studies.