Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: March 2020

Addiction in the age of Covid-19

30 Mar, 2020

People with substance use disorders are especially vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis

By Brian J. Grim, Ph.D.

This is part of a daily blog by RFBF President Brian Grim highlighting positive business responses to the pandemic, and part of the COVIDxNOW Global Economic Leaders Consortium, which is seeking to deliver innovative solutions for COVID19

Stress and Coping

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stressful for many people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis, according to the CDC and news reports.

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, the CDC urges you to call 911. Also, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517). Also, a growing number of recovery support groups are going online during the crisis.

Faith and Recovery

Adding to the stress is that one source of support to stay sober is being cut off by stay-at-home orders and social distancing access to their faith-oriented support groups. This is of special concern based on a recent Faith Counts study that my daughter (Melissa Grim, J.D., MTS) and I published in the Journal of Religion and Health.

Belief, Behavior, and Belonging: How Faith is Indispensable in Preventing and Recovering from Substance Abuse

Key findings:

  • — Faith Reduces Risk, Helps Long-Term Recovery, Saves Lives
  • — Provides $316 billion annually in savings to U.S. economy
  • — Authors Warn that Declining Religiosity is National Health Concern 
  • — Perception that Religion Can’t Answer Today’s Problems Don’t Match Reality

Download 2-page summary with graphics

At any given time, there are 20 million Americans afflicted with a substance use disorder (SUD). And tragically, each year, about 158,000 die from alcohol or drug-related deaths.  However, as we head further into National Recovery Month, one of the most effective tools to prevent and/or recover from addiction is often overlooked— faith. And when it comes to long-term recovery, faith-based programs are a driving force.

To view the full report, click here, or for a two-page summary, click here.

The study found that 73% of substance abuse treatment programs incorporate spiritual components such as 12-step programs. And congregations, through their support of recovery programs, provide $316 billion in savings to U.S. economy every year, the study shows.

“Belief, Behavior, and Belonging: How Faith is Indispensable in Preventing and Recovering from Substance Abuse” is the second in a series of studies from Faith Counts, a nonprofit, multifaith organization aimed at promoting the value of faith.

“In our review of hundreds of studies and extensive data, we found that religious beliefs, behaviors and belongings significantly reduce risk of substance use and significantly help recovery,” states Dr. Grim.

Dr. Grim also emphasizes, “while in the latest Gallup survey only 46% of Americans think that religion can answer today’s problems, the reality is that religion provides answers for one of today’s biggest problems – addiction.” Part of the misperception revealed by Gallup is that fewer people are affiliated with religion today, resulting in less experience with faith and its positive impacts. Indeed, the study concludes that the decline in religious affiliation presents a growing national health concern because the growth of disaffiliation is concentrated among Millennials and young adults, who are also the highest percentage of any age group to have a substance abuse disorder. “In a sense, the antidote is being rejected by the very people who need it most,” said Dr. Grim.

The study looked at various data to see if there is any connection between religiosity and recovery and what it found was remarkable: Those with strong religious beliefs are as much as eight times less likely to use illegal drugs, and as much as five times less likely to binge drink.

Nearly 90% of studies find that faith reduces alcohol abuse risk and 84% of studies show faith reduces drug abuse risk, according to Dr. Grim’s research, while less than 2% show religion contributes to substance use disorders. It is clear that religion and spirituality—which the study refers to collectively as faith—are exceptionally powerful, integral, and indispensable resources in substance abuse prevention and recovery. Religious beliefs, practices, and ministries not only provide succor and solace to those in need; they provide tangible, valuable resources that can help prevent and address substance abuse.

Regarding the current opioid crisis, Dr. Grim is careful to point out that the study is primarily about prevention and long-term recovery from alcohol and certain types of drug addiction. He states, “It is important to note that the opioid crisis presents a different and unprecedented set of challenges that require a unique approach to treatment for substance use disorder that may include medication assisted treatment.” Grim also adds, “Indeed, I want to be very clear that we are not conflating recovery from alcohol and other narcotics with addressing the opioid crisis.”

While overall medical intervention for SUDs is life-saving and critical, this study shows that faith organizations are uniquely capable of providing the “wrap-around” care and community necessary for long-term recovery.

Kerry Troup, communications director for Faith Counts, states, “We at Faith Counts see this study as yet another positive proof point of the tremendous social good that individuals and organizations of faith provide for society.”

The research shows that the efficacy of faith includes not only the behaviors people engage in (or don’t engage in) because of their faith and the support people find in their belonging to faith communities but also people’s religious and spiritual beliefs.

What others are saying about the study

“This study presents a comprehensive review of the literature on faith and substance use, and most importantly, provides a recent analysis of the SAMHSA database to determine the prevalence of faith-based substance abuse recovery programs and the tremendous cost savings that such programs provide to our country and health system.”

-Dr. Harold Koenig, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Associate Professor of Medicine, Director, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center

“Faith-based organizations work tirelessly to address difficult social problems like homelessness, crime, and prisoner reentry.  In spite of this fact, faith-based groups rarely receive recognition for their positive and valuable contributions. Brian Grim has done us all a big favor by producing a study that documents the enormous and beneficial impact of faith-based substance abuse programs.”

-Dr. Byron R. Johnson, Professor of Social Sciences and Director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University


External: Learn more about substance abuse resources for veterans with this useful guide.



Faith Counts is a nonprofit, multifaith organization with the sole mission to promote the value of faith. The centerpiece of Faith Counts is a social media campaign that tells powerful stories about how faith counts—how it inspires, empowers, motivates and comforts — and how faith is invaluable in helping to solve many of society’s problems.



Twitter: @MyFaithCounts

Faith Counts partners include a diverse faith community, including: The Salvation Army, Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Hindu American Foundation, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Hillel International, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 1st Amendment Partnership, and the Franciscan University of Steubenville. All faith groups are welcome.


Brian Grim is a non-resident research scholar at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University and president at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and has a doctorate from Penn State University. He previously was director of cross-national data at the Pew Research Center and a program director at universities in China, the former USSR, and the Middle East.

Melissa Grim, Brian’s daughter, is a senior researcher at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and has a master’s in theological studies from Boston University and a law degree from DePaul University in Chicago. Melissa was born in China, raised in the former Soviet Union, and graduated from high school in the Middle East.

The father-daughter duo are also coauthors of the first Faith Counts study, “The Socio-economic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, 12, 3.


Innovation in a time of coronavirus crisis

30 Mar, 2020

by Brian J. Grim, Ph.D.

This is part of a daily blog by RFBF President Brian Grim highlighting positive business responses to the pandemic, and part of the COVIDxNOW Global Economic Leaders Consortium, which is seeking to deliver innovative solutions for COVID19.

A WSJ op-ed argues that the real cure for the coronavirus will come from private research and innovation that offer promising new leads.

“Innovation isn’t superfluous — it’s central. Innovation has been both the solution and the outcome for almost all human crises, particularly when there has been a demand for strides forward in practical application of technical or scientific knowledge,” according to Thomas J. Graham, MD, a clinical professor and director of strategic planning and innovation in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Health.

One example of that is:

Tasking 1 ventilator to do the work of 4

Prisma Health developed VESper™, a new device that allows one ventilator to support up to four patients under emergency use authorization by the FDA. It is currently being used in New York according to Reuters and the NYT.

While not ideal, and even dangerous, this innovation could mean the difference between some care or no care as the coronavirus spreads.

Save Lives – And Save the Economy

28 Mar, 2020

This is part of a daily blog by RFBF President Brian Grim highlighting positive business responses to the pandemic, and part of the COVIDxNOW Global Economic Leaders Consortium, which is seeking to deliver innovative solutions for COVID19.


Thirty-two members of the Economic Strategy Group today released the following statement about the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftermath. Signatories include a bipartisan group of former US Treasury secretaries, former Fed chairs, CEA Chairs, and former NEC directors.

The COVID-19 pandemic is at once threatening American lives, the sustainability of our nation’s health care system, and our economic prosperity. Our paramount concern at this moment should be to slow the spread of this virus and equip our health care system to effectively respond. Saving lives and saving the economy are not in conflict right now; we will hasten the return to robust economic activity by taking steps to stem the spread of the virus and save lives.

Public and private sector actors must work together to provide more tests, more ventilators, more personal protective equipment, and more support for hospitals and health care facilities. Only when we have made progress on these fronts will US businesses and consumers be able to resume normal economic activity without inducing a resurgent spread that leads to even more severe health and economic effects.

We are deeply troubled by the prospect of a sustained recession that would erode the economic livelihood of millions of Americans. While Americans practice social distancing and medical professionals work to save lives, policymakers should put measures in place to support households and businesses through this difficult period. These collective efforts will allow more businesses to get up and running again as soon as possible and minimize the severity of the economic hardship on the American people.


Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
74th Secretary of the US Treasury; Co-Chair, Economic Strategy Group

Erskine Bowles
President Emeritus, The University of North Carolina; Co-Chair, Economic Strategy Group

Melissa S. Kearney
Neil Moskowitz Professor of Economics, The University of Maryland; Director, Economic Strategy Group

Adewale Adeyemo
Former Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics

Ben Bernanke
Former Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Joshua Bolten
President & CEO, Business Roundtable; Former Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush

Sylvia Burwell
Former Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services; Former Director, Office of Management and Budget

Lanhee Chen
David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow, Hoover Institution

Dave Cote
Executive Chairman, Vertiv Holdings

James S. Crown
Chairman and CEO, Henry Crown and Company

Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann
Senior Advisor,  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Diana Farrell
Founding President & CEO, JPMorgan Chase Institute; Former Deputy Director, National Economic Council

Jason Furman
Former Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers; Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Timothy Geithner
75th Secretary of the Treasury; President, Warburg Pincus

Austan Goolsbee
Former Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers; Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Douglas Holtz-Eakin
Former Director, Congressional Budget Office; President, American Action Forum

Glenn Hubbard
Former Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers; Dean Emeritus, Columbia Business School

Neel Kashkari
President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; Former Assistant Secretary, US Treasury

Edward Lazear
Former Chairman, US Council of Economic Advisers; Davies Family Professor of Economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Maya MacGuineas
President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Gregory Mankiw
Former Chairman, Council on Economic Advisers; Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Janet Murguia
President and CEO, UnidosUS

Michael Nutter
Former Mayor, City of Philadelphia; Professor of Practice, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs

John Podesta
Founder and Director, Center for American Progress

James Poterba
Mitsui Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Penny Pritzker
38th US Secretary of Commerce; Chairman & Founder, PSP Partners

Bruce Reed
CEO of Civic; Former Chief of Staff, Vice President Joe Biden

Robert E. Rubin
70th Secretary of the US Treasury; Co-Chairman Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations

Margaret Spellings
Former US Secretary of Education; President and Chief Executive Officer, Texas 2036

Gene Sperling
Former Director, National Economic Council

Robert K. Steel
Chairman of Advisory, Perella Weinberg Partners; Former Under Secretary of the US Treasury for Domestic Finance

Lawrence H. Summers
71st Secretary of the US Treasury; Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University

Janet Yellen
Former Chair, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Jeffrey Zients
Former Director, National Economic Council; CEO, Cranemere

The Aspen Economic Strategy Group (ESG), a program of the Aspen Institute, is co-chaired by Henry M. Paulson, Jr. and Erskine Bowles and composed of a diverse, bipartisan group of distinguished leaders and thinkers with the goal of promoting evidence-based solutions to significant US economic challenges.  The ESG fosters the exchange of economic policy ideas and seeks to clarify the lines of debate on emerging economic issues while promoting bipartisan relationship-building among current and future generations of policy leaders in Washington.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.

Faith & Belief ERGs Zoom Call, Apr. 3

26 Mar, 2020

Topic: Authenticity, Transparency and Trust in the Age of Covid-19

Note: Will not be recorded and is off the record (Chatham House Rule)


by Kent Johnson, Senior Corporate Advisor, RFBF

The Covid-19 crisis spotlights another threatening illness in companies and society today: The apparent lack of authenticity, transparency and trust.

Especially during this time when we’re barred from in-person interaction, coworkers need to go deeper; to get more personal – and more authentic. We need deep connections among people collaborating all over the world – including people who differ in their faiths and beliefs, but who share core personal motivations to promote honesty, compassion and unselfishness.  This need will remain after Covid-19 is defeated.

Faith-and-Belief-oriented Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have a lot to offer in this crisis. The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s (RFBF’s) online conferences promote freedom of expression about faith and core values in the workplace. RFBF’s rigorous studies illustrate how this freedom enables human flourishing.  We celebrate companies that do this well, especially those that encourage employees to bring their full authentic selves to work, including their faith. And we see increasing evidence that companies are increasingly embracing faith-oriented ERGs as enormously beneficial for business – and for society at large.

We’re thankful that many of you are joining us in this hope-filled venture for a cure to the lack of authenticity, transparency and trust. And we are also pleased to announce the launch of the first-ever LinkedIn Group for Faith and Belief ERGs. Please join our LINKEDIN GROUP to share your thoughts and to stay in touch.

Learn about RFBF’s Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index:

COVID-19: Recommended Preventative Practices and FAQs for Faith-based and Community Leaders

26 Mar, 2020

By Brian J. Grim, Ph.D.

This is part of a daily blog by RFBF President Brian Grim highlighting positive business responses to the pandemic, and part of the COVIDxNOW Global Economic Leaders Consortium, which is seeking to deliver innovative solutions for COVID19

COVID-19: Recommended Preventative Practices and FAQs for Faith-based and Community Leaders

The US Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (Partnership Center) leads the department’s efforts to build and support partnerships with faith-based and community organizations in order to better serve individuals, families and communities in need.

PLEASE NOTE: The following recommended preventative practices and answers are in response to common questions received. They are based on what is currently known about the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Should you have questions that are not listed below, please contact the Partnership Center at or 202-260-6501. They will do our best to respond in a timely fashion and will continue to update their website as further questions and information come to our attention.

Primary Resources:

  •  For updates on the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) dedicated website. Also available in Spanish.
  •  For local information and for recommendations on community actions designed to limit exposure to COVID-19, check with your state and local public health authorities.
  •  For guidance and instruction on specific prevention activities related to your community’s tradition and practices, refer to your national and regional denominations.

The Role of Faith-based and Community Leaders Faith-based and community leaders continue to be valuable sources of comfort and support for their members and communities during times of distress, including the growing presence of COVID-19 in different parts of the country. As such, these leaders have the unique ability to address potential concerns, fears, and anxieties regarding COVID-19. Additionally, by reiterating simple hygienic precautions and practices, these leaders can broadly promote helpful information, managing fear and stigma, and restoring a sense of calm into the lives of those in their care.

Such leaders are also poised ― through their acts of service and community relationships ― to reach vulnerable populations with essential information and assistance. These acts of service are an essential part of the safety net for the vulnerable in their communities.

Read more FAQ.

Thinking Local Amid Global Crisis – Businesses and Faith Groups Work Together

25 Mar, 2020

By Brian J. Grim, Ph.D.

This is part of a daily blog by RFBF President Brian Grim highlighting positive business responses to the pandemic, and part of the COVIDxNOW Global Economic Leaders Consortium, which is seeking to deliver innovative solutions for COVID19

Church Helps Feed People in Need

Food intended for D.C.-area restaurants is now helping feed the needy amid the coronavirus pandemic. News4’s Derrick Ward shows how one church is making that happen. Watch Report.

Business Makes War on Coronavirus

24 Mar, 2020

By Brian J. Grim, Ph.D.

This is part of a daily blog by RFBF President Brian Grim highlighting positive business responses to the pandemic, and part of the COVIDxNOW Global Economic Leaders Consortium, which is seeking to deliver innovative solutions for COVID19

Business Makes War on Coronavirus: U.S. manufacturers turn their might from making cars to making ventilators.

By William McGurn, WSJ, March 23, 2020

U.S. manufacturers including General Motors, Ford and Tesla turn their might from making cars to making ventilators.

Of all the coronavirus nightmares, the one most haunting doctors, governors and hospital administrators is finding themselves without enough ventilators to go around. When a patient can’t breathe on his own, a ventilator moves air in and out of his lungs. For a Covid-19 patient in critical care, a ventilator can be the one thing standing between him and certain death. …

Read full story.

Video is part of a March 23, 2020, WSJ Opinion Piece by William McGurn

Breaking News: Olympics Postponed Until 2021, Sources

23 Mar, 2020

The Third Biennial Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards — Held in Tandem With Paralympics —  Will Have Virtual Awards in 2020 and Tokyo Awards in 2021.

Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA TODAY Sports on Monday afternoon that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said in a phone interview. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

Pound, a Canadian who has been one of the most influential members of the IOC for decades, said the Games will likely be moved to 2021, with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks. He said he expects the IOC to announce its next steps soon. Read More.

Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, said, “Our Dare to Overcome business festival and peace awards in support of the Paralympic Movement, will go forward as planned whenever the Tokyo Paralympics are held. We stand in solidarity with Japan and the world in addressing this pandemic and emerging stronger on the other side.”

Grim said that there will be a virtual ceremony for 2020 recipients. He added that additional nominees can compete for the peace prizes in 2021, with honorees from both years being honored in person in Tokyo at the start of the Paralympic Games, once rescheduled.

The same applies to the Empower Women Film Competition, Grim said.

Business – NGO Covid-19 Partnership Thanks to NBA MVP Seeking to Meet Real Needs

23 Mar, 2020

By Brian J. Grim, Ph.D.

This is part of a daily blog by RFBF President Brian Grim highlighting positive business responses to the pandemic, and part of the COVIDxNOW Global Economic Leaders Consortium, which is seeking to deliver innovative solutions for COVID19

The current crisis is showing opportunities for partnerships that were not previously on many people’s radars, such as between one of the world’s largest food distributors (i.e., the ones who help Walmart and grocery stores keep shelves stocked), Lineage Logistics, and out-of-work NBA MVP Stephen Curry’s NGO Eat. Learn. Play. Read the story of how concern for feeding others led to a rapid and innovative Covid-19 response below.

Steph Curry And The Quiet Food Giant: A Partnership Forms To Combat The Coronavirus Crisis

Chloe Sorvino, Forbes

NBA point guard Steph Curry was probably the last person Greg Lehmkuhl thought of when he faced the threat of a widespread shortage of workers for his $2 billion food logistics business. But as coronavirus fears were racing to a fevered pitch he knew that his company was being thrust into the center of the crisis. He would need an army of workers to handle it.

Lineage Logistics, a mostly unseen giant of the food industry, touches some 30% of America’s food. That’s nearly 30 billion pounds of food annually including 4.7 billion pounds of poultry and 4.5 billion pounds of potatoes. It ships, stores or processes around 8% of the global food supply. Headed its way was the unprecedented demand triggered by widespread coronavirus lockdowns and Lehmkuhl, CEO since 2015, knew that even his 14,000 workers across 290 warehouses in 11 countries wouldn’t be enough.

Read the full story at Forbes.

Coronavirus Parallels to 1918 Flu Pandemic

21 Mar, 2020

By Brian J. Grim, Ph.D.

This is part of a daily blog by RFBF President Brian Grim highlighting positive business responses to the pandemic, and part of the COVIDxNOW Global Economic Leaders Consortium, which is seeking to deliver innovative solutions for COVID19

Epidemiologists’ strategy to combat the coronavirus is wide scale shutdowns, or social distancing; an idea derived from measures taken during the 1918 flu pandemic, which survivor William Sardo, Jr. described before his death in 2007.

Video is part of a March 20, 2020, WSJ Opinion Piece, What Victory Looks Like in the Coronavirus War: We can try to stop time until a vaccine is ready, but the result might be identical to defeat, by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. Credits: Video: WSJ and Wonder Land; AFP/Getty Composite: Mark Kelly