Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: August 2020

Faith and Business

26 Aug, 2020

Faith and Business: What’s the value of faith to the US economy? $1.2 trillion every year! See the details here.

Are we moving towards a more peaceful Middle East?

24 Aug, 2020

Into the Open

Economist, Aug. 22, 2020: The Israel-UAE deal is good news for a troubled region, even if tensions remain high elsewhere in the Middle East

Although not universally hailed as a breakthrough, the peace accord between Israel and the UAE “is good news for a troubled region,” according to the Economist:

Some are calling it a “breakthrough”, others a “turning-point for peace”. But the deal is not remarkable for how it might transform the region. Rather, it reflects remarkable changes that have already taken place. A part of the world once defined by Arab-Israeli hostilities is no longer so; countries increasingly look towards the future, not the past, when shaping their policies. In a perennially troubled neighbourhood, this decline in tension is worth celebrating, even if other dangerous fault-lines remain.

It was no secret that Israel and the Gulf states had grown closer of late. Motivated by a common enemy, Iran, their armies and spy agencies swap intelligence. Recently, Israeli officials began popping up in Gulf capitals. But the UAE’s decision to take its relationship public will bring more benefits for both sides. Israeli business people are excited about their access to Dubai, the region’s financial hub—which happens to be in dire need of a clean-up (see article). Deals have already been signed between Israeli and Emirati firms. It feels like a much warmer peace than that between Israel and Egypt. Other Arab states are talking about following the UAE’s lead.

Read the full story (paywall).

Religion and America’s Presidential Election

24 Aug, 2020

Brian J. Grim

As the United States moves towards the 2020 presidential election, it may seem difficult to reconcile the data showing that, on the one hand, religion is on the decline in the US, and on the other, religion is a central part not only of the Republican National Convention but also the Democratic National Convention.

However, given that Joe Biden is a regular church-goer, as are significant portions of Democrats, e.g., Black Democrats, Democrats have strategically decided to embrace their religious side in what Jack Jenkins calls an “atypically religious Democratic National Convention.”

That both parties are highlighting religion makes more sense knowing that the vast majority of Republicans (90%) and Democrats (77%) in America report believing in God (see chart). Although these data are a bit dated (Pew Research 2014), more recent data from Gallup (2017) suggest nearly 9-in-10 of all American adults believe in God.

As the campaigns go forward, one of the key issues to track is the degree to which religious freedom for all becomes a common theme, as is argued for by Andrew D. Graham. The theme I will track most closely is the degree to which the experience of America’s most successful companies in workplace religious inclusion means that the US may be at a turning point, where religious freedom is seen as a shared value rather than a divisive issue with liberals on one side and conservatives on the other.

That’s worth praying for and working towards.

Religion at the DNC (across all Days):

Religion at the RNC (Day 1):

Also: The role of religion in Trump’s presidency so far: An interactive timeline

Are evangelicals embracing pluralism?

24 Aug, 2020

Several publications and reports over the past week indicate that there is a growing call from within evangelical circles to embrace principled pluralism and the need for greater religious literacy (“RQ”) in American life and racial justice. As summarized below, Andrew D. Graham makes a powerful argument for principled pluralism and more understanding of different faiths.

Other signals are the Christian Broadcasting Network’s interview about PayPal’s Believe that includes positive imagery of Muslims praying, and this op-ed from a Liberty University graduate student on friendship.

Andrew D. Graham: Why Religious Pluralism and Religious Literacy Matter for the Future of Religious Freedom in America

Andrew Graham, in his Aug. 18 piece in the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse, argues that “to have any chance of seriously mitigating common misperceptions of religious freedom, Evangelicals must publicly demonstrate a sincere commitment to religious pluralism and its necessary counterpart, religious literacy.”

Graham defines “religious pluralism”  as:

“The condition where individuals, associations, and institutions in a diverse society may peacefully and publicly think, speak, and act according to their deepest beliefs and core values—whether stemming from traditional religion or secular conscience—without fear of social, political, or legal reprisal.”

He sees this as a benefit for both religiously affiliated and religiously nonaffiliated Americans to live freely and authentically according to the dictates of religion or conscience in all areas of life.

This increases the importance of RQ for both religiously affiliated and religiously nonaffiliated citizens. Why? Graham argues that:

“Given the reality of increased religious diversity in American life, the health of our society necessarily depends on how members of one faith tradition view and treat members of other faith traditions. For Christians, moreover, seeking to understand other faith traditions and the people who practice them is an act of Christ-like compassion, a way we can love our neighbors better. As Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person, until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” RQ is one way to help us do so.”

Graham sums up his argument arguing that “it’s time for evangelical Protestants to make room in American society for people of other faith traditions and to learn more about their beliefs and practices. Our pastors and lay leaders need to embrace and prioritize that message. Doing so would show both our commitment to loving our neighbors as ourselves and our confidence that our tradition can survive and even thrive in the free market of ideas and religion.”

Andrew D. Graham serves as the Executive Director for Policy and Education & Senior Fellow at First Liberty Institute, a national nonprofit law firm and think tank dedicated to defending religious freedom for people of all faith traditions. He is a Reformed Protestant and an ordained ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), a decidedly conservative branch of Presbyterianism that remains faithful to the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Corporate America Begins to ‘Believe’ In Making Faith a Workplace Priority

24 Aug, 2020

Religious freedom is more than a constitutional issue

by Heather Sells, CBN News 08-21-2020

Last month the international payment system company PayPal launched “Believe” – an employee resource group designed to promote awareness and understanding of workers’ faiths and worldviews.

And PayPal is not alone. Last year Walmart introduced its employee faith group, joining other top companies like Texas Instruments, American Airlines, Google, Intel, Facebook, Apple, Dell, American Express, SalesForce, and Goldman Sachs.

Dr. Brian Grim, the president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation (RFBF), spearheads the push to make corporate America faith-friendly in an era where most typically think about diversity in terms of race, gender or sexual orientation rather than religion.

… read full article here.

Watch interview here:

Sept. 1st Faith & Belief ERGs Zoom Call with BELIEVE at PayPal

14 Aug, 2020


What: Community Call for Faith and Belief Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
Topic: Fostering an Inclusive Culture for All Faiths and Worldviews
Featuring: BELIEVE at PayPal — PayPal is a purpose driven company whose mission, vision and values are the foundation for how we conduct business every day. One such value is that diversity & inclusion is the catalyst for innovation, which spurred a Sikh, a Muslim, a Jew and a Christian to launch PayPal’s interfaith Employee Resource Group (ERG) – Believe. The mission of Believe is to foster an inclusive work culture and to promote holistic wellbeing by providing a forum to openly exercise and celebrate all faiths and worldviews while working.
Speakers include: Sebastian Beck, Senior Manager, Diversity & Inclusion; Becky Pomerleau, Director, Finance Risk Management & Believe Global Co-Lead; Neetu Dhaliwal, Manager, Risk Services PMO & Believe Global Co-lead; and Faiz Mohammed, Payments Senior Software Engineer & Global Muslim Lead. More information.
When: Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Time: 12 noon EDT; 11:00am CDT; 09:00am PDT
Host: Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF)
Moderator: Kent Johnson
Registration Required [click here]
Join Faith & Belief ERG LinkedIn Group: Join Now
Questions? Email RFBF


During the shutdown, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has been hosting a series of calls with Fortune 500 companies in which they share how they’re becoming more faith-and-belief friendly. They are doing this in ways that not only allow each employee to be authentic to his/her own faith, but builds a workplace community where people’s various faiths and beliefs are welcome and viewed as a source of strength.

Previous calls featured insights from IntelAmerican ExpressAmerican Airlines, Salesforce, and DELL.

If you’re interested in joining in, drop us a note.

Jumping The Wake: Preserving Freedom of Belief

13 Aug, 2020

Protect the “Space of Faith” — Be patient while thoughts move from inspiration to action in yourself and others.

By Steve Hitz

Steve Hitz is a founding partner of Launching Leaders Worldwide. LLWW and RFBF have engaged participants in 29 countries on six continents thru a faith-based personal leadership curriculum which empowers participants everywhere. Steve contributes regularly to RFBF online. 

The freedom to choose your own path, have it directed by thoughts you have pondered, and implement those thoughts without coercion, is an essential human need and right. We, of course, see various versions of how this might be imagined, but at the heart is the freedom to act upon what is believed. Generations that have gone before have risked everything to follow this hope of freedom and to exercise their liberties.

The ability to question is integral to liberty, including questioning some interpretations of our own history. However, in some of today’s “cancel culture wars”, opposing ideas are met with retribution, dissociation, and even harm. This is causing many to not publicly express their views and thought processes. This coercion (or bullying) is really a way for those with opposing views to limit others’ liberties. This limitation of freedom by the few is damming the hopes of the many. These situations light the sparks of revolution.

Isn’t it ironic that the liberty to choose, which was born by a revolution, makes a full circle to now oppose the views that revolution fought for. What caused this to morph? How do we get beyond it?

I witnessed a simple exchange recently that gave me pause. My grown son, David, spent an afternoon with his brother on his boat. David, who is talented on a wake board, “cleared the wake” on a jump. Later that same day David explained this event in all its glory to his brother’s boys (my grandsons), ages five and seven (pictured), in response to their question of how his day had gone.

The seven-year-old said “You did what? I don’t believe you.”

The five-year-old said, “I believe you.”

That was the essence of this simple conversation. The one brother didn’t try to quash the other’s opinion—it was very simple, one believed, and one did not. One chose to believe a story and one did not. Of course, a video proof was introduced that then caused the non-believing nephew to re-evaluate his position.

This process of believing or not — the opportunity to believe without being oppressed or judged for that belief — is the essence of freedom. Such is the foundation also of religious freedom, which ought to encourage the voices of many to be accepting of the differences in these voices, peacefully and without fear of retribution.

Perhaps one remedy to consider in how to preserve and even re-establish liberty is to ponder what I call “The Space of Faith.” Most would agree that we all receive inspiration from time to time on how one’s life should be lived—the path we choose and walk. There is a time between when the inspiration comes to when it is acted upon. This is what I call “The Space of Faith.” Moving forward with an idea or impression requires one to act without knowing the exact outcome. This is what faith is all about. When this space is free from oppression by others, it allows one to live into the inspiration they received. Allowing everyone this space of faith, reduces knee-jerk reactions or judgements as to how others see their lives unfolding.

It is in this space that liberty must exist. During this space is proof of concept, so to speak, when faith is replaced by belief—belief that the inspiration received will lead to a more joyful and productive life. This is the space in which we think through our views and re-adjust our thinking as more is learned (like the video of David jumping a wake).

Let me invite you to ponder three ideas to this to help preserve the divine gift of liberty and to simply believe:

1. Believe that others have valued opinions too. The whole idea of “peaceful” protests is to offer up opinions. It isn’t to see who has the biggest megaphone. The two little boys who simply had differing opinions—one believing and one not—can be a pattern to allow everyone’s liberty to thrive.
2. Celebrate seekers. Diligent inquiry into what or who is truth. This is essential for everyone to arrive at a set of values that can coexist peacefully. We can join the seekers, or we can judge their ideology. We ought not to try to cancel or “ghost” anyone’s opportunity to discover and seek the path they are inspired toward.
3. Protect “The Space of Faith.” While everyone decides how to act upon inspiration received, don’t smother the sparks that can change the world for good. Be patient while thoughts move from inspiration to action in yourself and others.

In conclusion, let me share something I learned in my recent readings. One hundred and twenty-four years before the Constitution of the United States was written, a document called the Flushing Remonstrance was written where thirty residents of a small Dutch settlement in Queens, New York, produced a charter for Roger Williams’ Colony of Rhode Island, which reads:

… no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter shall be any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion in matters of religion, and do not actually disturb the civil peace of our said colony; but that all and every person and persons may, from time to time, and at all times hereafter, freely and fully have and enjoy his and their own judgments and consciences … (Rhode Island Royal Charter, 1663).

Such is the essence of liberty and religious liberty. May we all respect “The Space of Faith” in which these necessary ideas are created. In a sense, we are all called to “jump the wake” and take leaps of faith forward, diligently seeking a better future. But perhaps the most challenging leap of all in the cancel culture wars is to celebrate seekers, believing that others with whom we disagree have valued opinions too. That’s at the heart of freedom of belief, conscience and religion.

Monthly faith-and-belief Zoom calls

11 Aug, 2020


Faith and core beliefs are taboo discussion topics in many workplaces. But that is changing. A gathering wind of freedom is gaining strength. It’s accelerating in this time when employers are pressed – perhaps as never before – to find new ways to inspire and motivate their people to collaborate, create and execute business, often while working remotely.

During the shutdown, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has been hosting a series of calls with Fortune 500 companies in which they share how they’re becoming more faith-and-belief friendly. They are doing this in ways that not only allow each employee to be authentic to his/her own faith, but builds a workplace community where people’s various faiths and beliefs are welcome and viewed as a source of strength.

Previous calls featured insights from IntelAmerican ExpressAmerican Airlines, Salesforce, and DELL.

If you’re interested in joining in, drop us a note.

In the News: Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

10 Aug, 2020

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has been in the news – see the stories:

The Hill (U.S.): Why religious freedom is special (by Emilie Kao)

The Wire (India): Why Social Harmony Is Important for a Healthy Economy: Frequent sectarian violence casts a pall over the Indian economy (by Tehmina Arora)

Article 18 (UK): Grand Prize winner in animation for the 2020 religious freedom and business Empower Women Media film competition feature by Article 18

Thousands Watch Film Festival Videos

10 Aug, 2020

Thousands have tuned in for the religious freedom film festival and awards since they were released one month ago.

Since July 10, the films have recoded 71,000 impressions with more than four thousand views.

To access to the full film festival, click here. Four films account for about half of all the views. They are: