Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: November 2017

Pontifical Univ. gives Brian Grim religious freedom award

29 Nov, 2017

Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, was honored by the Pontifical University in the Dominican Republic for his contributions to the promotion of religious freedom worldwide. The award was presented during the Caribbean’s first international Religious Freedom & Economy Symposium, which attracted significant national and regional media attention.

Margarita Cedeño, Vice President of the Dominican Republic, opened the symposium with delegates attending from 14 nations including Cuba. 

Cedeño stressed the importance for legal systems to recognize and guarantee religious freedom. She also emphasized the need for societies to develop cultures of mutual respect and to foster collaboration between the public and private sectors so that this freedom helps to confront social inequality — the great challenge facing humanity today.

Vice President Cedeño cited Pope Francis’s warning, issued during his historic trip to the United States, that we live in a world where diverse forms of modern tyranny want to suppress religious freedom. Therefore, it is necessary that the faithful of different beliefs join their voices to cry for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.

“The fight against inequalities, which is the common struggle of all religious denominations, is based on the preservation of the moral integrity of individuals,” said Cedeño. She went on to observe that “it is demonstrated that religious freedom promotes development with equity, solidarity and love of neighbor.”

The Award

During the symposium, the international religious freedom award was presented to Grim by Alfredo de la Cruz Baldera (pictured), Rector and Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM).

Earlier in the day, Grim gave a keynote address on his groundbreaking research on the economic value of religion to the U.S. economy. He also addressed the connection between religious freedom and sustainable development, and the positive role business leaders can and are playing in advancing interfaith understanding and peace.

Grim also discussed practical ways businesses can get involved, including honoring their CEOs by nominating them for the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards held in tandem with each Paralympic Games, as well as committing to respecting freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in the workplace by taking and implementing the FoRB Pledge.

The meeting focused on analyzing the theme ‘Religious freedom and economic development.’ Dr. Alfredo de la Cruz Baldera said that the symposium shows that “the person of faith, regardless of their tendency or way of understanding God, collaborates with the development of peoples and social peace.”

Delegates included diplomats from numerous countries, including the First Lady of Guyana, Sandra Granger, and Aruba’s Secretary of International Affairs Mireille Sint Jago.


The Cuban delegate, Dr. Enrique Alemán Gutiérrez, said that “for Cuba as a country and for Cuba’s platform for interreligious dialogue Quisicuaba, participation in this first encounter of religious freedom is of extraordinary importance. The symposium is new but the roots of interreligious exchange in Cuba, the Caribbean and the world are part of our history.”

Gutiérrez also said that “our presence legitimizes that space of mutuality and exchange that Cuba has opened to the world through the Platform for Interreligious Dialogue.” Lastly, he pointed out that he will participate in a panel on governance and religious freedom in which he will talk about Cuban experiences regarding the multiple historical relationships of freedom of law, religious expression and ecumenical relations between the state and the church in Cuba.

In addition to the Dominican Republic’s Catholic bishop for interreligious dialogue, other religious leaders participating included Rev. Gary Harriott, General Secretary of the Jamaican Council of Churches, Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Suleiman Bulbulia, Secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association.

Researchers and academics from the United States, South America and the Caribbean, as well as government representatives, academic authorities, business leaders and the religious sector shared their knowledge, experiences and useful practices to promote religious freedom in the region.

The symposium was sponsored by the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM); the Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Republic; Brigham Young University; the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation; Quisqueya University of Haiti; the Latin American Consortium of Religious Freedom of Argentina; and the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies of Chile. The event took place at PUCMM from November 16 to 17, 2017.

First Caribbean Religious Freedom & Business Symposium to be held in Santo Domingo

11 Nov, 2017

The Caribbean Religious Freedom Symposium will include the participation of international experts, academics, government representatives, media, business, and religious leaders from 15 Caribbean countries, the United States, Chile and Argentina.

The symposium will focus on Religious Freedom and Economic Development, with the participation of Dr. Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and considered the world’s leading expert on the socio-economic impact of religion. His studies have shown that there is a connection between the guarantee of religious freedom and sustainable socioeconomic development.

This first ever Caribbean Religious Freedom Symposium will take place November 16th and 17th at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra – PUCMM, Santo Domingo. The Symposium will evaluate the importance of religious freedom as a fundamental right related to freedom of conscience.

The opening session will be on Thursday the 16th at 9:00 AM. Experts, researchers, academics and enthusiasts from the United States, Argentina, Chile and 15 Caribbean countries will share knowledge, experiences and useful practices to promote religious freedom in the region. Government representatives, academic authorities, business leaders and the religious sector will participate.

The event has the sponsorship of the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra; Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Republic; Brigham Young University; the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation of the United States; Quisqueya University of Haiti; the Latin American Consortium of Religious Freedom of Argentina; and the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies of Chile.

The symposium will have ten thematic sessions focusing on the perspectives of different sectors of society regarding religious freedom.

The session for the religious sector will be on Friday 17 at 9:00 AM with the panel entitled: “Fundamental contribution of religion and the essential role of religious freedom in society”, in which representatives of the Catholic Church, the evangelical community, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will participate.

Those interested in participating can call 809-580-1962, ext. 4493 or email to

Media contact: Néstor Saldívar, Tel.: + 809-487-0120, ext. 2262

On Trump’s heels, Brian Grim addressed Korean National Assembly on SDG 16 (peace)

7 Nov, 2017

Updated: Nov. 30, 2017. Religious Freedom & Business Foundation President Brian Grim gave an address at the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea on November 29, 2017. Below is a transcript of his remarks describing how interfaith understanding and peace is facilitated through business and partnerships, supporting UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16). Grim spoke as part of a panel of local and international experts and policy makers at the start of the international STS&P conference to highlight and share appropriate technology tools and solutions to achieve the SDGs as part of Korea’s Overseas Development Aid (ODA).

Peace and Sustainable Development in the 4th Industrial Revolution

  • National Assembly, Republic of Korea
  • Brian Grim’s Comments, November 29, 2017

Honorable Speaker of the Korean National Assembly, Mr. Chung Sye-Kyun, Honorable Assembly Members, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen:

We live in an age when the global community is partnering to support sustainable development as embodied the 17 universally approved United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sustainable development means that there are multiple bottom lines when evaluating developmental success: financial, social and environmental. Sustainable development is characterized by giving everyone the opportunity to flourish, as companies, governments and civil society leaders put human needs and social well-being at the center of economic decision-making.

Businesses and corporations are stepping up to meet the challenge supported by the efforts of organizations such as the United Nations Global Compact and World Economic Forum. In partnership around the globe, they are working to reduce poverty, hunger, gender inequality, end pollution on land and sea. They are working to promote health, well-being, quality education, affordable and clean energy, decent work, and economic growth through industry, innovation and strengthened infrastructure.

However, the current context for these collaborative initiatives is radically different than it was even just a few decades ago due to the explosion in artificial intelligence (ai) capabilities, what the World Economic Forum calls the 4th Industrial Revolution. While ai can displace traditional jobs and disrupt economies, it also can bring tremendous benefits such as being able to identify and rescue people who are being victimized by human trafficking, which we discussed in a recent World Economic Forum meeting. Therefore, it is extremely important that we support and expand the efforts such as the STS&P conference being held here in Korea to highlight and share appropriate technology tools and solutions to achieve the SDGs without negative side effects.

To give an example, technology can be used to spread falsehoods that divide people. But even more powerfully, technology can bring people together. Terrorists use the internet each day to recruit, but at the same time Pope Francis, with his 14.6 million Twitter followers, promotes peace day after day.

SDG 16 – promoting peace and better governance – is critical because without peace sustainable development is only a dream. And peace is in short supply on many countries. Data from the prestigious Pew Research Center show that the world is engulfed in a rising global tide of religious hostilities and restrictions. These range from actions of the so-called Islamic State in the Middle East to the oppression of Rohingyas in Myanmar to total State repression of freedom in North Korea.

And these restrictions and hostilities not only hurt the people involved, but threaten world peace, which is critical for sustainable development.

What can be done to roll back this dangerous tide? We would be wise to recognize and engage the power of the global and national business community, among others, as an ally.

Research from the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, which I serve as president, shows that freedom of religion or belief is a powerful instrument of peace. Data show that freedom of religion or belief is strongly associated with economic growth, global competitiveness, including education, innovation, health and better lives for women and children.

So, how can and are businesses lowering hostilities and increasing peace? To answer this question, on March 8, 2018, in Seoul, South Korea, the day before the opening of the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games, we will hold the second Global Business & Interfaith Peace Symposium and Awards (video below) sponsored by my foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact Business for Peace platform and the Global Compact Network Korea. The first symposium and awards were held at the start of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Symposium participants and award recipients will have the opportunity to present their commitment to interfaith understanding and peace, while contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16: “Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

I respectfully encourage the Korean government and Korean business community to more energetically engage in promotion of SDGs in general and, in particular, expand movements and projects aimed at building peace, justice and institutions that promote freedom and tolerance. There are many businesses in Korea already contributing through the Global Compact Network Korea, but more are needed to participate. Given the challenges Korea faces, your wonderful country has the opportunity to be the world leader in peace.