Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: October 2015

Taking Faith to the World Economic Forum

30 Oct, 2015

WEF-role-religion-councilThis week in Abu Dhabi, the annual Summit on the Global Agenda – the world’s largest brainstorming event – brought together the thought leaders of the World Economic Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils, comprising more than 80 groups of experts from academia, business, civil society, international organizations and government.

Among these councils, members of the Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith aim to provide thought leadership that furthers within World Economic Forum activities the understanding of faith’s complex influence on global affairs. The council and its members seek to raise awareness of the criticality of “religious literacy” – ensuring leaders from government, business and civil society adequately comprehend religion’s nuances and drivers, as well as its impact on communities, markets and governance. It aims to transform perspectives on faith in government and the private sector, specifically in nations experiencing dramatic change (for example, immigration dynamics, internal conflicts, freedom of beliefs/religion and emerging market challenges).

The council is developing a toolkit to teach religious literacy through awareness, assessment and analysis. The first part of this toolkit highlights the impact faith has on economies, particularly through demographic and market analysis.

As part of this toolkit, Brian Grim presented a new study by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, Changing religion, changing economies, to the Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith at the annual summit in Abu Dhabi.

For a summary of the research, see How Religious will the world be in 2050?

The study has been covered in the media, including articles in ForbesChristianity TodayDeseret NewsIl FolgioActon Institute & the World Economic Forum.

On Our Shared Dignity: Intensifying multi-religious cooperation to advance freedom of religion or belief for all

29 Oct, 2015


  • By +John Cardinal ONAIYEKAN, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja – Nigeria

NEW YORK, 19 September 2015 – In the face of rising religious persecution of people on the grounds of faith or belief, on September 18-19, over 100 parliamentarians from almost 50 countries assembled in New York City to discuss ways to advance freedom of religion or belief.

The event was cosponsored by the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPP FoRB), a network launched last year in response to the rising crisis of religious or belief based persecution, both by terrorist groups and authoritarian governments.

The IPP is an alliance of parliamentarians committed to advancing religious freedom for all, as defined by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Following is the address of +John Cardinal ONAIYEKAN, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, to the assembly.

+John Cardinal ONAIYEKAN

Let me first sincerely thank the Baroness Berridge, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and the other organizers of this forum for inviting people like me and the Ayatollah Damad, who has just spoken, to contribute from our particular perspectives to the topic of this forum. I thank God for the concern and interest which you all, as parliamentarians from many parts of the world, are showing about this very important topic of religious freedom. This gives us great hopes that from you parliamentarians the interest and concern will reach your governments and then real change will begin to happen where it needs to happen.

As would be expected, since I was given the assignment before leaving home to speak at this occasion, I did prepare the short five minutes observation requested of me. But having heard much of what has been said since this session began, I have decided to put my prepared text aside and to share a few brief reflections with you from my own perspective as one who could be called “a religious leader”.

Permit me to simply list out my observations as follows, in no particular order or logical sequence.

NY2015-invitation-modifieda).  In the matter of restriction and harassment of religious freedom, an important distinction has been made between what governments do by law and what is the result of social habits and pressures [see The Price of Freedom Denied, Cambridge Univ. Press]. As regards legal framework, religious freedom has been an important provision of the universal declaration of fundamental human rights, a code that every member of the United Nations has agreed to respect. However, the reality on the ground still leaves much to be desired. Some nations still have laws, which are against at least the spirit, at times even the letter of the code. The UNO should no longer allow such countries to continue to get way with going against the rules that they themselves have signed on to. There should be no more benign neglect or diplomatic double talk in this matter. As parliamentarians, it is your duty to make sure that the laws of your nations uphold and defend the fundamental right of freedom of religion for everyone, citizens and visitors alike. We hope that a strong resolution will come out of this forum on this matter.

b). As for the so-called “social” restrictions which derive from traditional habits, to the extent that such behavior are outside the law or even against the law, the state must take effective action to uphold the law. Where such discriminatory behavior claims to be based on religious tradition, there is need to review such traditions.

c.) Let me at this point focus on the responsibility of religious leaders in this regard. In many cases, the negative attitudes of some religious communities against others are determined by the teachings and examples of the religious leaders themselves. They therefore have the duty to correct traditional religious teachings and habits, which wound or kill religious freedom. If it means reviewing their theologies, they should do so. My Church, the Catholic Church, went through such a review of theology fifty years ago during the great Second Vatican Council. Two important documents of that council deserve special attention here.  The first is the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium which explains the theological nature of the Church in such a way that we can now have a positive view of other religious communities, both Christian and non-Christian. The second is the Declaration Nostrae Aetate, which gave practical directives on how to relate in a positive manner with people of other religions. These documents, and the entire work of the Council have had a great positive impact, both within and outside our Church. This should be an on-going project for all religious communities.

d.) A particularly urgent task for religious leaders is to clearly disengage themselves from government restrictions and harassments of religious minorities. Often, rulers and politicians claim to be promoting the interests of the dominant religion by oppressing and suppressing other faiths. Unfortunately sometimes the religious leaders make themselves willing partners in this ungodly policy. It is time that religious leaders stand up against laws that restrict religious freedom and work for a change in such laws, even if they have for long been the legal basis for long established practice. Serious examples of this kind of situation are the cases of so-called “blasphemy laws” or laws against conversion, or the imposition of the religious law of a particular creed on all citizens.

e.) In the same vein, religious leaders ought to be in the forefront to defend the right to differ in religious conviction. This should be done, not only for other faiths but also for dissidents within the dominant faith. The right to freedom of religion is a gift of God to every individual. Religious leaders should be seen to be defending God-given rights, not destroying them.

f.) What about the violent religious extremists who commit crimes and acts of terrorism claiming to be acting in the name of God? We see here the limits of freedom of religion. They now constitute a major challenge in our world of today, with the exploits of groups like the Boko Haram in my county Nigeria, the ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Al Shabab in Somalia, etc. They are a small minority, but as dangerous to the entire community as a dose of poison is in a dinner. All the groups mentioned above claim to be Muslims. This puts a great challenge on the Islamic community globally. It is good that the main Islamic organizations have consistently condemned the terrorists, although unfortunately the mass media seems not to be able to give such statements the coverage that I believe they deserve. But I have always insisted that there is need to go beyond mere condemnation. There is need to engage the terrorists, as erring members of the same faith family. Our experience in Nigeria has shown that military engagement is important and necessary but not enough. There is also need for religious and theological dialogue within the house of Islam, a dialogue that only Muslim religious leaders have the capacity to undertake successfully, thereby building a much needed bridge between the extremists and the rest of the community.

g) Finally, let us not forget that violent religious extremism is a product of some non-violent religious extremism. Before people begin to throw bombs in the name of religion, they have already been exposed to the use of “verbal bombs” from extremist preaching that have nothing good to say about anyone who does not agree with them. It does matter what people preach and what people believe. There is need for vigilance.

h.) In conclusion this forum, and especially this session brings out the need for joint reflection and action between politicians and religious leaders in the task of upholding and defending freedom of religion, which is the greatest of all fundamental human rights, after the right to life itself. This joint task must be tackled both nationally and internationally. It is then that we can have religious peace and cooperation. Above all, it is only then that religion will be liberated from all charlatans and manipulators, liberated to do good, not evil, to promote the well being of humanity, not kill people, IN THE NAME OF GOD!

Media engagement of RFBF’s new study “Changing religion, changing economies”

23 Oct, 2015


ForbesProtecting Religious Freedoms Will Strengthen Our Global Economy

In Forbes, by Brian J. Grim & Brian W. Walsh

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, long a priority of administrations from both parties, highlights how the world’s economy is shifting in multiple ways. The United States is still the world’s largest economy, but today two Asian countries—neither historically nor majority Christian—have the second and third largest economies. The Pacific Rim as a whole, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse regions on earth, is now also one of the most economically dynamic.

The strength of the global economy has become religiously diverse, and this diversity will only increase in the next few decades. According to a new study released today by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (of which one of us, Brian Grim, is president), the globe’s growing religious diversity is likely to be one of the 21st century’s most important developments for businesses and policymakers around the world. … read more

World Economic Forum’s Agenda

WEF-how religiousHow religious will the world be in 2050?

In World Economic Forum’s Agenda, by Brian J. Grim

Reports of the death of organized religion have been exaggerated. According to recent research, the growth of religious populations worldwide is projected to be 23 times larger than the growth of the unreligious between 2010 and 2050. The report Changing religion, changing economies, which draws on a 2015 global study published in Demographic Research and its connected Pew Research Center report, has profound implications for the global economy.

Today, seven of the G8 nations have Christian-majority populations. But by 2050 only one of the leading economies is projected to have a majority Christian population – the United States. The other mega economies in 2050 are projected to include a country with a Hindu majority (India), a Muslim majority (Indonesia), and two with exceptionally high levels of religious diversity (China and Japan). … read more

Christianity Today

Christianity TodayTreasures on Earth: How Religion Is Redistributing the World’s Wealth

What economic and demographic data suggest about 2050.

International Media


Italian article


Bangladesh article

Dramatic religious and economic shifts to impact planet, new study

20 Oct, 2015

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 21, 2015

Religious populations are projected to outgrow religiously unaffiliated populations worldwide by a factor of 23 between 2010 and 2050. This will increase religious diversity and alter the distribution of wealth, according to new study by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, Changing religion, changing economies.*

This growing religious diversity can be an economic strength if national and business leaders promote interfaith understanding, protect minority groups’ human rights, and advance freedom of religion or belief, thereby ensuring sustainable and peaceful development for all.

Among the report’s main finds are that the rising economic fortunes of Hindus and the rising numbers of Muslims in particular will produce a more economically and religiously diverse planet, while the relative position of Christian populations will be weakened overall.

At the same time the growth of the global religiously unaffiliated population is slowing at a much faster rate than global population growth although their economic growth is expected to track global trends in the years ahead. Although population growth among Buddhists is expected to stagnate, economic growth is also expected to be on par with global economic growth, largely due to China’s economic rise where half of all Buddhists live and two-thirds of all religiously unaffiliated people live.

Economic growth among the global Jewish population is expected to increase, but be significantly less than economic growth in the world as a whole as Jewish population growth is slowing more quickly than the world as a whole.

The number of people belonging to other religions in the world is expected to grow by about 30 million people between 2010 and 2050 but decrease as a share of the world’s population. The largest share of the world’s other religious populations lived in the Asia-Pacific region (notably China). Despite its slow population growth, economic growth among these faiths is expected to outpace global economic growth, largely due to China’s projected economic growth.

80 Yrs Relig ChangeChanging religion, changing economies – authored by Brian Grim and Phillip Connor – is part of a “toolkit” being developed by members of the Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith to increase “religious literacy” in our complex world.

The study provides insights into the global marketplace’s growing religious diversity by linking the best available demographic and economic data from sources including the Pew Research Center, the World Religion Database, the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, the United Nations, and various country-specific census and survey datasets.

It is important to note that the study does not aim to provide a direct causal link between religious behavior and economic practices. Instead, it seeks to connect selfidentified religious affiliation with economic environments around the world. In this way, religion and religious change is neither analyzed as a causal force leading to economic change nor is economic change analyzed as a causal force in religious change. Instead, the analysis provides a global perspective of how the relative size and economic power of religious groups occur today and how these dynamics are expected to change in the near- and long-term future.

Economic Growth Among Hindu Populations

Hindu populations are expected to experience the sharpest increase in economic strength of all major faith groups between 2010 and 2020, based on a global analysis of census and survey data. Though economic forecasts to 2050 are notoriously weak, those that exists from the Organization of Co-operation and Economic Development (OECD) see this trend continuing.

The economic gains for Hindu populations are largely driven by the rising fortunes of India. Yet Hindus in the United States also contribute significantly to the global economic resources available to Hindus, according to the study. For instance, the size of the Hindu-American population has nearly doubled since 2008 to more than 2 million, according to Pew Research, and on average, they are among the wealthiest Americans.

The economic power of Hindus and other Indians was on display during Indian Prime Minister Narend Modi’s recent visit to California’s Silicon Valley, where he was met not only by CEOs such as Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen – both Hindus – but also by an Indian diaspora that filled an 18,000-seat stadium. And next month during Modi’s visit to the UK, he is expected to fill Wembley, the country’s largest soccer stadium with some of the 1.5 million million people of Indian origin in the UK.

Previously, Modi – a Hindu nationalist – was banned from even entering the United States due to alleged complicity in anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, India’s westernmost state directly south of Sindh, Pakistan. And all eyes are on how he will manage India’s economy, a question that has a direct bearing on the global fortunes of Muslims.

Muslim Populations

Globally, economic growth among the Muslim population is expected to significantly outpace global economic growth, in large part because the number of Muslims in the world is expected to nearly double between 2010 and 2050. Indeed, Muslims are expected to lead the world in population growth compared with other religious groups, despite global trends among Muslim populations for lower fertility. For instance, in Iran today, the total fertility rate has dropped below replacement level of 2.1 children per woman.

The largest share of the world’s Muslims lived in the Asia-Pacific region as of 2010 and will continue to live in this region in the decades ahead, making this region the engine of economic growth for Muslim populations.

To some extent, a part of global Muslim economic advance will also ride on India’s economic coattails. India is expected to have the world’s largest Muslim population by 2050, surpassing Indonesia. This, along with the growing economies of countries like Indonesia, will make Asia the Muslim world’s center of economic power. The study finds that more than half of the economic influence associated with Muslim populations will come from the Asia-Pacific region in the decades ahead.

Other Populations

Aside from Hindu and Muslim populations, the demographic and economic forecasts for other large religious blocks is mixed.

Christian populations are expected to increase in size and economic power, but slower than the demographic and economic growth of the world as a whole. This is in part because the growth of the global Christian population is projected to be about the same rate as overall global population growth between 2010-2050. And much of the growth of Christianity will occur in Africa, which is projected to grow economically, but not commensurate with the demographic growth. Half of the world’s demographic growth will occur in Africa, but a significantly smaller share of the world’s economic growth will occur there.

Five-biggest-econsBy 2050, only one of the five leading economies is projected to have a majority Christian population – the United States. The other mega economies in 2050 are projected to include, as mentioned, India (Hindu majority), as well as Indonesia (Muslim majority), and China and Japan countries with high levels of religious diversity.


China’s religious landscape, in particular, present a clear picture of the importance of successfully navigating religious diversity. Aside from India, China has more religious believers than any other country – some 600 million.

Almost one-in-two people in China follow a faith. This includes about 300 million practicing folk religions, 244 million separately following Buddhism (half of all on the planet), 68 million Christians (the world’s seventh-largest population), and approximately 25 million Muslims, constitute the world’s 17th largest Muslim population, right after Saudi Arabia and before Yemen. Certainly, China’s economic success would not have been possible had the country kept religion and other forms of identity completely suppressed. And its future success requires the un-coerced buy-in of all these groups.

The globe’s growing religious diversity might be one of the 21st century’s most important developments, especially as it is backed up by growing and shifting wealth. This could be very good for innovation and sustainable development – if accompanied by increases in human rights and interfaith understanding.

If not, social hostilities involving religion ranging from discrimination and hate crimes to terrorism and conflict may continue to rise, as documented by an ongoing Pew Research study.

Millennials are drawn to vision not just money in business, survey

8 Oct, 2015

deloitte-graph-1New survey results described by Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte Global, find that Millennials are motivated by purpose-driven leadership, not just financial success.

Renjen notes that in addition to all things digital, Millennials want to see social justice, the environment protected, and work and personal lives balanced. To gain a better understanding of Millennials’ goals and aspirations and learn more about their views on business, leadership and their own careers, Deloitte began surveying Millennials annually four years ago. According to Deloitte’s 2015 survey of more than 7,800 Millennials in 29 countries, “the majority believe that business needs to reset its purpose – 75 percent say businesses are too focused on their own agendas and not focused enough on improving society.”

In order to engage Millennial talent, businesses that equate purpose with business excellence are best positioned to get the brightest and most energetic of the next generation.


deloitte-graph-r2The survey found that “60% of the Millennials surveyed say a “sense of purpose” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer. Among the “super-connected” Millennials – those who are relatively major users of social networking tools – that number increases to 77 percent, compared to just 46 percent of those who are the least connected. And, in businesses where Millennials say there is a strong sense of purpose, there is significantly greater financial and recruitment success and higher employee satisfaction.”

Renjen concludes: “The bottom line is that Millennials have strong opinions that will influence how we develop our business strategies and define and articulate our organization’s core purpose. For Millennials, conducting business with a purpose that goes beyond making profits is critically important in determining the kind of company they want to work for – and the kind of company with whom they are willing to do business.”