Business: A powerful force for
interfaith understanding & peace


Women’s Empowerment and Success in Business Rely On Religious Freedom

17 Apr, 2018

by Shirin Taber*

We live in a remarkable age in where women’s rights in the workplace are gaining unprecedented traction. But as we approach the tipping point of global change, so are the forces that oppose it. As millions promote liberty around the world, too often the critical factor of religious freedom is overlooked in our conversation about gender equality in the business world.

Over the years, I have become passionate about religious freedom and its impact on women’s rights. My exposure to religious freedom was birthed in many ways while growing up in a home with an Iranian Muslim father and an American Christian mother.

My mother passed away from cancer when I was 14, so her spiritual role in my life was limited. Even though my father was a practicing Muslim, he never pressured me to follow his faith as he did. In fact, he encouraged me to think for myself, explore new ideas, play sports, travel abroad, and determine my own spiritual path. The religious freedom he allowed me became a conduit to uncover my personal faith, talents, vocation, and calling to help empower marginalized women.

I have also learned that women’s empowerment and success in the business world cannot occur without religious freedom. Women around the world must be able to choose their own faith perspective. Religion cannot be handed down to them by male-dominated communities. A woman’s choice regarding religion (and its practices) will be one of the greatest factors that impacts her personal peace and development.

In response to the research showing that religious freedom empowers women, the network I direct, Middle East Women’s Leadership Network (MEWLN), and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) are partners in the Religious Freedom & Business Film Competition.

In our age of media, we believe the important message of women’s rights connection to religious freedom must be shared as widely as possible. Furthermore, we believe we must create visual narratives which encourage indigenous leaders to advance the legal principals of freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief for every person without distinction.

The goal of the film competition is to challenge filmmakers around the world to create short films that showcase how religious freedom leads to innovation, peace, security, entrepreneurship, and human flourishing in communities.

Strategically, these short films were shown at the 2018 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards ceremony. The grand prize winner of the 2018 competition received $5,000 and a trip to present her work. Additionally, the wining films are being shared with religious freedom networks, NGOs, and faith based organizations around the world.

My father impacted my life in many ways, but mostly I am grateful that he allowed me to choose my own religious identity, from which many of my personal freedoms and life accomplishments flow. I hope the same for the next generation.

The winning and finalist films include:

  • – $5000 GOLD GRAND PRIZE: Love Has No Borders (by Christy Anastas and Deborah Paul)
  • – SILVER FIRST RUNNER UP: Global FC (by Mariya Dostzadah Goodbrake)
  • – SECOND RUNNER UP: Equations (by Nancy Sawyer Schraeder and Naji Hendrix)
  • – THIRD RUNNER UP: Clarkston (by Erin Berhardt)
  • – FINALIST: Paper Dresses (by Lizzie Chaplin)

For more details about the competition and sample films, visit the MEWLN website or contact Shirin Taber, MEWLN Director, at

* Shirin is Iranian-American and the author of Muslims Next Door (Zondervan) and Wanting All the Right Things (Relevant). The Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, Fox News Christianity Today and have featured her writing and work among Muslims and Christians alike. She served with Cru, Inspirational Films and the Christian Broadcasting Network. Shirin is passionate about helping women become world-class leaders by creating media for their mission. Partnering with various United Nations, NGOs and faith-based agencies, she helps leaders develop media strategies to expand their visibility and outreach platforms. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and speaks French, Farsi and English.

Religion & Leadership

12 Apr, 2018

Ancient wisdom for a modern world? New study.

Ali Aslan Gümüsay*

Leadership is both deeply personal and profoundly social. Similarly, religion shapes the core of personal beliefs and values, as well as an understanding of social relationships. It has extensive reach and intensive force. Too often it is regarded with a passive distance and a disdainful disregard.

Instead, we should more actively and constructively engage with religion and its impact on leadership. I have done so in an 18-month long study with LEAD Academy, a social business with non-profit status located in the heart of Berlin. The study builds on 32 semi-structured interviews with religious leaders of secular organizations and a half-day workshop. Interviewees and participants were adherents of the so-called Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Download the study here

Religion – a double-edged sword

Engaging with religion does not imply an uncritical rapprochement. On the contrary, engagement means to acknowledge religion as a social fact with a strong impact on many lives and wider society. It follows that religion needs to be taken seriously – both as a source for good and bad – and dealt with accordingly.

The study illustrates that religion is a double-edged sword that can cause both harm and good in leaders and beyond. Potential pitfalls are worldly negligence, non-critical reasoning, exclusivity claim and a belief in divine right. Potential opportunities are personal harmony, deeper meaning, social caring and lived values. If pitfalls are overcome and opportunities embraced, religion can be an anchor and compass for individuals, organizations, and societies in a complex world.

No room for faith?

Interviewees strongly encourage to put religion back on the agenda. Organizations need to consider how to literally and metaphorically offer room for faith. However, some leaders experience “aggressive secularism”, which makes the inclusion of faith particularly difficult. They acknowledge that yoga and meditation are trendy and have attributes of substitute religions, but often lack certain depth. In contrast, religion offers insights about concerns of deeper purpose. In other words, while essential themes for individual and organizational purpose are currently not sufficiently addressed and contemplated upon, religion may offer a means to approach these central concerns.

If practiced in context and in an inclusive way, religion offers an anchor for stability and guidance. This is not a small “if”. Still: religion can be a compass to navigate through and deal with ambiguity in a complex world. This can create a personal mindset and ‘soulset’ empowering leaders’ personal and social conduct. With the right engagement, this can have a significant positive impact on society.

The study concludes by offering five ways to engage with religion and leadership.

Additional Study:

Embracing religions in moral theories of leadership (Ali Aslan Gümüsay, published online April 13, 2018, Academy of Management Perspectives, In-Press)

ABSTRACT: Religions are social constituents of present societies that need to be integrated into theories of leadership. In this paper, I outline how three distinct characteristics, particularly present in Abrahamic religions, can significantly impact leadership principles and practices: a belief in the existence of and relationship to a God, the faith in and pursuit of a hereafter purpose, and the belief in and attempted adherence to a sacred scripture. Subsequently, I classify two approaches to examine their impact on leadership: a scripture-based and an empirical-based lens. I then highlight how the distinct characteristics can either inform and blend into or transform and modify moral theories of leadership.

About the author

* Ali Aslan Gümüsay is a postdoctoral DAAD Prime Fellow at the Vienna University of Economics & Business and the University of Hamburg. Before, he was a Lecturer in Management at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, and a strategy consultant with the Boston Consulting Group. He received his DPhil from Said Business School, University of Oxford.

Developmentally Disabled Reporters Cover Business & Interfaith Peace Awards

30 Mar, 2018

Developmentally disabled reporters from Human Aid Post interviewed Global Business & Interfaith Peace Award winners. HumanAid-Post and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation have a partnership to provide reporting at the Paralympic Games, where the Awards are given. Above is some footage from the interviews. 

Here is a link to the article they published about the Awards.

Human Aid Post Developmental Reporters. From left, Martin Park, Reporter Min Jin Kim, Brian Grim of RFBF hosted the event, Chang Jin Song, Reporter, Human Aid Post Yeonwoo Choi Representative ⓒ Human Aid

The ‘2018 Global Business Peace Award Ceremony’

World Peace Leaders’ festival scene ‘development disorder reporters’ very active

Kim Eun Kyung reporter | | 2018.03.16 18:06:03

Google Translate of Korean news report:

[Prime Economy] The ‘2018 Global Business Peace Prize Award Ceremony and Symposium‘ was held from 7th to 9th at the Grand Hilton Hotel in Seoul with 300 people participated by RFBF (Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, CEO Brian Grim).

The Peace Awards, awarded to top executives who have contributed to the development of world peace, include six categories: △ Core business △ Social investment and social contribution △ Peacekeeping and participation in public policy △ Partnership and joint efforts △ Corporate increase contributed to peace on the Korean peninsula △ Religious freedom and business film festival It was conducted in six sections.

After the awards ceremony, Human Aid Post reporters interviewed the organizers and winners about the impact of receiving the awards and the Paralympic Peace message. They also asked them about their thoughts about reporters with developmental disorders. Interviewees included award winners, Dr. Brian Grim and the judges.

They are currently working as media reporters for the developmental disabilities, as well as media activities such as editing “Easy-understanding News”.

Brian Grim, the organizer of the event, said, “In preparing this event, it was most important to share with people of various religions around the world how to make the world a better place for peace.” He said, “It is something everyone can do for peace right in the place where you are.”

The winners all reported being “honored and rewarded.” In particular, Stephen Hitz received ‘Excellence Youth Leadership Award’ in social investment and social contribution field. Steven Hitz said, “I worked for the Millennium generation, enjoyed it, loved it, and appreciated their potential, and this award is for them.”

Mark Woerde, the founder of Havas Lemz & Letsheal, who won the gold medal in the core business, said: “I could not do it alone, I hope that this award will make it easier to reach many religious leaders in the future. ”

Carlos Wizard Martins, head of Sforza Holding, a winner in the social investment and social contribution field, said: “We have been committed to peace, integration and peace, It was possible because of the effort of many.”

Finally, Ingrid Vanderveldt was awarded the Global Empowerment Award, said, “Having the awards ceremony on May 8th is more meaningful because it is the International Women’s Day. The Award shows that women’s equality and rights are being supported by the world.”

Regarding supporting the message of the Paralympic Games, Stephen A. Steven A. Hitz said, “Paralympians overcome difficulties showing life can offer good for everyone.”

Mark Woerde said, “Like you, we have been working with talented creators around the world to make the world a better place.”

Carlos Wizard Martins said, “If you try and overcome difficulties by yourself, success is slow, but by working together anyone can achieve.”

Ingrid Vanderveldt spoke encouragingly and cheered, “I am thankful and very proud of your work as journalists.”

The Awards — which included a keynote speech by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as participation from business leaders, academics and religious leaders — are held every two years during the opening of the Paralympic Games. It was held in Pyeongchang, and a symposium was held from 1 pm on the 8th following the awards ceremony.

About Human Aid Post

Human Aid Post‘ is a media created by ‘Human Aid’, a media practice group providing information for disadvantaged people. ‘Human Aid Post’ is carrying out ‘We are all precious’ public interest campaigns to overcome the information gap and by providing information by and for the disabled.

Human Aid is a nonprofit organization that produces light, entertaining and good-news  media content, so that socially underprivileged people can enjoy both domestic and foreign media. They aim to create ‘warm and moving news’ for our readers.

Currently, ‘Human Aid Post’ produces content as well as selects articles from among various media outlets, and works with many editing volunteers in Korea and abroad to provide information for the underprivileged.

‘We are all precious’ editorial committee activities are open to anyone, including children, youth, college students and adults. The articles are handed to the ‘We are all precious’ supervisor, who is composed of the development disabled, and the articles created by the supervisor and supervisor coach can be seen in ‘Human Aid Post’.

We are all precious, and we all have the right to see the news. ‘Human Aid Post’ goes to all parts of the world for our society, for everyone. We will do our best every day at ‘Human Aid Post’ in order to solve the big problem of our society, namely ‘solving the information gap’.

PDT Initiative: New Program Connecting Religious Freedom, Technology and Community Development

29 Mar, 2018

The Peace-Technology-Development (PDT) initiative fosters interfaith action to promote appropriate technology to accomplish the Strategic Development Goals (SGDs).

PDT is a collaborative endeavor of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, the Love In Lights and the International Exhibition on Smart Technology for Sustainable Development & Procurement (STS&P).

The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations cover a broad range of social and economic development issues including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice.

The PDT initiative addresses two important missing aspects critical for accomplishing the goals that are not specifically spelled out: interfaith action and procuring appropriate technology to accomplish the goals.

Faith and technology are a powerful, but under-utilized pairing. For instance, much of the aid work throughout the world is directed or carried out by faith-based groups. Many employ technologies to help communities develop ranging from drilling wells to helping communities become self sufficient in both electricity and knowhow.

The PDT initiative helps faith communities directly engage with companies and agencies producing and procuring technology that aids development. In the process, not only are more appropriate forms of technology developed and procured, but also we directly address SDG 16, building peace. As we help faith groups work together to solve problems at the local level, this increases interfaith understanding and creates a climate where societies and governments will better see the value of protecting freedom of religion or belief, as defines in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Main PDT initiatives

International Exhibition on Smart Technology for Sustainable Development & Procurement (STS&P)

STS&P is a yearly exhibition that helps the connect technology developers with the real needs of communities. It is the world’s only platform helping the United Nations focus on developing technologies as tools for implementing SDGs.

STS&P brings together new industries and markets that are changing the demand for labor and capital in ways that help technology be in the service or people rather than people serving technology. The uptake and deployment of smart technology for sustainable development will be facilitated greatly by an efficient international market for appropriate technology for the SDGs that meet the real human need for holistic, integral human development.

Global Business & Peace Awards and Symposium

In support of UN Sustainable Development Goal 16, the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards recognize business leaders – current or past CEOs – who have demonstrated leadership in championing interfaith understanding and peace. The Awards are presented by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) in collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact Business for Peace (B4P) platform, the Global Compact Network Korea, and the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).

The inaugural Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards were held in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, Sept. 6, a day before the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games. The next awards will be given in Seoul, Korea, ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympics.

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.

Love In Lights

Love In Lights is devoted to providing villages lacking electricity with the appropriate technology to improve the quality of life of families around the world. Further, it strengthens the competencies of the beneficiaries through implementing income-generating projects and character education programs.

Love In Lights is designed to develop sustainable communities in which residents and the environment live in harmony, and community members work together to achieve common goals.

Social Cohesion through Interfaith Work – Manchester, UK

29 Mar, 2018

by Matthew Musialowski

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundations’ Empowerment+ program in Manchester is helping improve interfaith relations in the same community that experienced the 22nd May 2017 Manchester terrorist bombing.

2017 brought news to our screens filled with messages of separation, hatred and fear. But behind the scenes, the Empowerment+ programmes in Manchester are helping spread the message of neighbourly love and help, with the goal of improving relations in Manchester between all communities, regardless of race, culture, religion or other characteristics.

TheReligious Freedom & Business Foundation’s Empowerment+ programmes bring together communities of people in Manchester help each other gain career and practical skills with individuals whom they would not usually interact with. Of the current groups participating, there are members from Catholic, Muslim, Mormon and Hindu backgrounds showing a spirit of love and inclusion in Manchester.

The Empowerment+ programs inspiration comes from the story of the Good Samaritan and it is imperative that such initiatives expand and flourish. After the Manchester Arena bombings, Islamophobic attacks in Manchester surged by 500%, with there being 224 reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the month following the attack. Grassroots initiatives such as Empowerment+ are vital in helping communities not only build social cohesion, but also in eliminating isolation, ending rejection of others and implementing an attitude of serving others.

As well as having the ability to counter radicalisation and allowing people to practice their faiths freely, the programs have real practical benefits. With course topics ranging from money management to habits and the use of having mentors, participants have sung the praises of how the course offers real benefits in everyday life alongside improving social cohesion.

There were some really interesting topics and questions that were brought up during the course both on the online resources and during the weekly sessions. By asking about challenging and thought-provoking areas of our lives, we were able to self-reflect with the added benefit of suggestions from the course and more importantly from the other participants.” – Juliette (Participant)

The topics were very insightful and helpful since we were reflecting on diverse range of things which on a daily basis we tend to overlook. Because the group was so diverse with different people coming from different backgrounds, I was able to expand my horizons and see things from a different perspective.” – Eugene (Participant)

“You learn so much from other people’s experiences and stories and opinions. Things that people can’t discuss outside are given a platform to discuss in this space. Something society may neglect to talk about can be discussed here with respect to faith.” – Hammad (Participant)

It is clear that small initiatives and grassroots gatherings such as this provide multiple benefits to the individuals and the community as a whole. It provided the evidence that we so often forget that despite our differences in belief and culture, we all have the ability and, in fact, the pleasure to sit in a room with the diverse range of people that make up our community. We can respect and learn from another’s way of life and allow it to open new avenues of exploring our own daily activities.

The more tolerant we become and the more often we interact with members from outside of regular social circles, the more we are able to see that despite our differences there is a commonality between us all that we overlook as we get caught in the trappings of our superficial differences. Beneath the surface, we all desire to connect, to be understood and to feel as though we belong, and initiatives such as the Empowerment+ programme allow for these benefits to take root and flourish.

Fudan University Lecture: Religion contributes 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars annually to the U.S. economy

25 Mar, 2018


On March 5, 2018, Dr. Brian Grim (Chinese name: Ge Baiyan 葛百彦), President of the American Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, gave a lecture at Fudan University entitled “Religion’s Contribution to the US Economy“. His research found that the annual economic contribution of religion to the United States is as high as about $1.2 trillion.

At 9 a.m. that day, the lecture began at the American Research Center at Fudan University on time and was chaired by Prof. Xu Yixuan, Director of the Department of International Politics at Fudan University. He introduced the speaker to the audience. At the beginning of his speech, Dr. Ge Baiyan quoted an American writer, the old Oliver Wendel Holmes, saying: “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” But Dr. Ge Baiyan refuted this view, and that being heavenly minded has a very positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Ge Baiyan has a lot of connections with China. He taught in Fujian, Xinjiang, and other places more than 30 years ago. His youngest daughter was the first American born in China since the Cultural Revolution ended. Ge Baiyan was a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center. He and his daughter Melissa Grim conducted a study titled “The Socio-Economic Contribution of “Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis” which examines the earthly good of American religion.

The study found that religion contributes 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars annually to the U.S. economy, which is equivalent to the 15th largest economy in the world, and even more than the combined annual revenue of the two giants of global technology, Apple and Microsoft.

Left: Dr. Ge Baiyan. Right: Professor Xu Yikai. (Photos: The Christian Times / Yao Songshu)

According to the findings of the study, Ge Baiyan shared three major aspects of religious influence on the U.S. economy: religious groups, religious institutions, and religion-related businesses.

In terms of religious groups, annually, congregations including churches, mosques, synagogues, and Buddhist temples contribute US$418 billion to the U.S. economy. Religious believers carried out many economic activities such as providing training, food, and conducting meetings for the churches. At present, there are 420,000 teachers in church schools in the United States, and 4.5 million students attend faith-based primary and secondary schools.

Religions also have a magnetism effect, such as attracting tourists to places of worship. Religious people also conduct a number of public welfare activities such as helping people to abstain from alcohol, seeking employment, and caring for AIDS patients.

In terms of religious institutions, annual charities, medical institutions, and higher education institutions with religious backgrounds have created economic value of nearly US$302.9 billion per year. Such institutions include the Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic Brotherhood Volunteer organization in the world, Catholic Hospitals and the Brandeis University funded by the Jewish community. In relation to religion-related businesses, they have created an annual economic value of $438.4 billion, including faith-based and faith-inspired businesses. Tyson Foods Inc., the world’s second largest chicken, cattle, pork processing and sales company, hired pastors for its factories to care for employees’ spiritual needs. More than 1,000 U.S. factories hired pastors; C12 Christians (The C12 Group) also established the world’s largest Christian CEO network.

In addition, Dr. Ge Baiyan explained the unique influence of religion on the present world through two issues that they designed: Charity. The first question is whether or not to participate in volunteer activities in the past week? 28% of non-religious people gave affirmative answers, while religious figures were as high as 45%. The second question is whether to donate money or donate money to the poor or contribute time in the past week? Up to 65% of religious people gave affirmative answers, compared with 41% of non-religious people.

Dr. Ge Baiyan also shared a story of his business friend who believes in religion. When he realizes that the purpose of life should not be just self love but love his neighbor, he donated his income, sold all his assets, and moved his family to one of the poorest countries in the world. – Mozambique (Country of Southeast Africa). He now donates 90% of his profits from local companies to local communities.

Finally, Dr. Ge Baiyan cited the words of his university professor as a conclusion that the purpose of social science is to discover new knowledge that is beneficial to people. This is exactly the purpose of Dr. Ge Baiyan’s research.

This lecture was co-sponsored by the Shanghai University Think Tank Institute for Religion and National Security at Fudan University and the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University.

More than academic: Religious freedom is economic

16 Mar, 2018

From Harvard, to China’s Fudan, Korea’s Wonkwang, and St. Paul Minnesota’s University of St. Thomas — scholars are looking at religion’s and religious freedom’s socio-economic impacts and contributions.

Harvard Law School

On April 3, Brian Grim will join journalist Mustafa Akyol and USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark at Harvard University’s Law School for a discussion on “International Religious Freedom in an Age of Nationalism.” Grim will focus on the power of business to foster interfaith understanding and peace.

Mustafa Akyol is a writer, journalist, and Senior Fellow atWellesley College’s Freedom Project. Daniel Mark is Chairman, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Assistant Professor of Political Science, Villanova University.

The event is co-sponsored by the Catholic Law Students Association, Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change, International Human Rights Clinic, Jewish Law Students Association, Christian Fellowship, DOS Grant Fund, and the Harvard Islamic Society.

At least since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of religion has been widely recognized as a universal human right. In recent years, however, the international order of the late twentieth century has come under increasing pressure, and nationalism seems on the rise. How is this development affecting freedom of religion? Leading experts, informed by various faith traditions, academic disciplines, and experiences, will discuss this question–and what must be done to protect international religious freedom in an age of nationalism.

Fudan University, Shanghai 

On March 5, Brian Grim presented an invited lecture on his research on the socio-economic contributions of religion to U.S. society.

Jim Denison, Ph.D., asserts: “It’s not often that an academic report changes the conversation about religion in America, but one just did. Georgetown [University’s] Brian Grim and Melissa Grim of the Newseum Institute have unveiled their groundbreaking study: “The Socio-economic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis.”

In fact, the Guardian’s story on the research was shared 18,600 (as of April 2017). By contrast, its headline story announcing that Donald Trump wins presidential election was shared 17,127 times.

The short video below summarizes the findings.

Wonkwang Digital University, Korea

Wonkwang Digital University signed a MOU with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) in the Grand Hilton Seoul on March 9.

The two organizations will cooperate to develop on-line and off-line parallel education programs.

“The development of excellent educational contents will be a chance to be recognized in the global education market by the high level of competence of domestic cyber universities. I hope to contribute to harmony and development,” said Wonkwang Digital University President Namgkmen.

Others participating in the signing included Choi Yoon Hee, Admissions Coordinator; Shin Yi Chul, Dean of the Department of Speech and Language Therapy; Kim Jae Hyun, Head of the Admission Promotion Team; RFBF President Brian Grim; and RFBF Northeast Asia Director David Yoo.

University of St. Thomas School of Law

Religious Freedom and the Common Good is the spring symposium of the University of St. Thomas Law Journal.

Date & Time: Friday, March 23, 2018; 9 a.m. to 4:25 p.m.

Challenges to religious freedom have become more prominent and intense in recent years, both in the U.S. and abroad. The conflicts involve both individuals and nonprofit religious organizations, of varying faiths, and laws on matters from nondiscrimination to healthcare to national security. Arguments over these questions typically treat religious freedom as a matter of personal individual autonomy. But religious freedom may have another important dimension: the common good. Indeed, in an era of increasing skepticism toward many religious-freedom claims, the defense of religious freedom may increasingly rely on showing that it preserves space for religious groups to benefit individuals and society.

Social scientists have done considerable research on the asserted contributions of religion and religious organizations for individual believers, for recipients of social services, and for society. But what are these contributions, and how well established are they? Moreover, what relationship do they have to religious freedom in the American tradition? Can religious freedom be justified in part based on its contributions to the common good, and how would such arguments affect the scope of religious freedom?

To address these questions, this conference brings leading social scientists together with a variety of legal scholars, advocates, and policy experts. Among the topics will be the contributions of religious organizations to social services, the founders’ views of religion’s societal effects, the benefits and risks of religious freedom for African-Americans, the role of religious freedom in countering terrorism, and the causes and consequences of religious-freedom restrictions in various nations.

Conference papers will be published in the University of St. Thomas Law Journal and, in shorter form, in other venues.


  • 8:30-9:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00-9:15 a.m. Welcome and Introductions, Dean Robert K. Vischer, Professor Thomas Berg, Symposium Editor Dane Knudsen
  • 9:15-9:35 a.m. Byron Johnson, The Need for Research on Effective Compassion
  • 9:35-9:55 a.m. Anthony Picarello, Taking the ‘Sum Total’ of the Common Good in Religious Freedom Discourse
  • 9:55-10:15 a.m. Melissa Rogers, Lessons Learned From Government Service
  • 10:15-10:40 a.m. Panel Discussion and Q&A
  • 10:40-10:50 a.m. Break
  • 10:50-11:10 a.m. Mark Hall, America’s Founders, Religious Liberty, and the Common Good
  • 11:10-11:30 a.m. Jacqueline Rivers, Benefits and Burdens of Religious Freedom: the African American Perspective
  • 11:30-11:55 a.m. Panel Discussion and Q&A
  • 12:00-12:30 p.m. Mass
  • 12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch: Brian Grim, The Socioeconomic Contribution of Religion to U.S. Society
  • 1:45-2:05 p.m. Stanley Carlson-Thies, The Common Good Needs Robust Institutional Religious Freedom
  • 2:05-2:25 p.m. Sahar Aziz, The Racial Contours of U.S. Religious Freedom: The Case of Muslims
  • 2:25-2:45 p.m. Angela Carmella, The Establishment Clause and the Common Good
  • 2:45-3:10 p.m. Panel Discussion and Q&A
  • 3:10-3:20 p.m. Break
  • 3:20-3:40 p.m. Dane Mataic, Promises, Practices, and Consequences of Religious Freedom: A Global Overview
  • 3:40-4:00 p.m. Thomas Berg, Religious Freedom and the Common Good: A Summary of Arguments and Issues
  • 4:00-4:30 p.m. Panel Discussion and Q&A

This event is cosponsored by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion; the University of St. Thomas Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy; and the Religious Freedom Institute.

University of the Philippines in Manila

June 14. More details to come …


Korea takes lead in global workplace religious freedom & inclusion initiative

16 Mar, 2018

Dozens of CEOs from companies as diverse as the Hyundai Group to as unique as the Empower a Billion Women Foundation sign the Corporate Pledge on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards.

The pledge-signing ceremony occurred as a part of a global business for peace event held in conjunction with the “Peace Olympics” in Korea.

The Corporate Pledge in Support of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) — which supports religious diversity and freedom in the workplace — sends two clear messages to current and prospective employees: (1) You can work here without changing who you are; and (2) the company respects all employees and will not favor certain employees over others … and that’s good for the business of all.

The FoRB Pledge is one component of a company’s overall strategy to value its employees and increase their loyalty for the benefit of customers and shareholders. The FoRB Pledge is a company’s public commitment to take reasonable steps to ensure that working at the company does not put employees at odds with their deeply held religious convictions.

Meeting in the wake of the potential for fresh talks on the Korean Peninsular, the high level Conference pledged to “use its influence in support of every effort at dialogue aimed at discerning new ways of overcoming the current disputes.”

The delegates rallied in support following a keynote address from former UN Secretary General, HE Ban Ki Moon, in which he also welcomed the new developments while emphasising a need for caution. The symposium which included key speeches from the former Japanese Prime Minister HE Yukio Hatoyama and HE Philip McDonagh former Irish Ambassador to the Holy See who was involved in the Northern Island peace talks, unanimously supported a commitment to “…advocate for a common peace in East Asia based, first, on agreed principles; and second, on measured, parallel progress on security and arms control, societal and justice issues, and economic development.”

Training to Put the Pledge to Practice

Wonkwang Digital University has signed a MOU with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) in the Grand Hilton Seoul on March 9. The two organizations will cooperate through the agreement to develop on-line and off-line parallel education programs for global talents and to open courses. “The development of excellent educational contents will be a chance to be recognized in the global education market by the high level of competence of domestic cyber universities. I hope to contribute to harmony and development. ” The agreement was attended by Wang Kwang Digital University President Namgkmen, Choi Yoon Hee Admissions Coordinator, Shin Yi Chul, Dean of the Department of Speech and Language Therapy, and Kim Jae Hyun, Head of the Admission Promotion Team, RFBF Brian Grim and RFBF Northeast Asia Director David Yoo.

Executive Ed

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and the Religious Freedom Center jointly offer education programs for businesses and business schools across the globe. For businesses, we deliver one and two-day courses focused on middle management and executives. For business schools, we provide online modules that can be integrated into existing courses on marketing, management, liability limitation, and diversity & inclusion.

Participants become religiously literate, that is, they become conversant about how religion impacts the workplace and the marketplace, their coworkers and partners as well as customers and clients. Participants gain an understanding of the empirical evidence on the value that religious liberty, religious diversity, and religious inclusion and their roles in business strategy, corporate policy and economic growth.

This training provides frameworks that will help participants lead effectively in a world of growing religious diversity. The curriculum is grounded in the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s Corporate Pledge in Support of the Freedom of Religion or Belief. As companies employ this framework, they send two clear messages to current and prospective employees: (1) you can work here without changing who you are; and (2) the company respects all employees and will not favor certain employees over others, and that’s good for the business of all.

Participants will also learn strategies that help businesses navigate religious freedom as it pertains to other freedoms in the workplace and society.

Download Brochure: Seminars – Workplace Religious Diversity and Inclusion


For more information, please contact Paul Lambert ( or Kristen Looney (

“Olympic Truce” Welcomed at 2018 Global Business & Peace Symposium

8 Mar, 2018

March 7th/8th/9th 2018 Seoul, South Korea

The Global Business and Peace Symposium today welcomed the “Olympic Truce” between Seoul and Pyongyang and the opportunity for contact across the DMZ.

Meeting in the wake of the potential for fresh talks on the Korean Peninsular, the high level Conference pledged to “use its influence in support of every effort at dialogue aimed at discerning new ways of overcoming the current disputes.”

The delegates rallied in support following a keynote address from former UN Secretary General, HE Ban Ki Moon, in which he also welcomed the new developments while emphasising a need for caution. The symposium which included key speeches from the former Japanese Prime Minister HE Yukio Hatoyama and HE Philip McDonagh former Irish Ambassador to the Holy See who was involved in the Northern Island peace talks, unanimously supported a commitment to “…advocate for a common peace in East Asia based, first, on agreed principles; and second, on measured, parallel progress on security and arms control, societal and justice issues, and economic development.”

Previously delegates from the conference had been welcomed by senior politicians at the Korean National Assembly, where RFBF President Brian Grim was awarded the Main Prize at the World Peace Prize Ceremony.

The Global Business and Peace Awards were presented at a ceremony held later at the Grand Hilton Hotel in Seoul with prize winners including Mark Woerde, Founder Havas Lemz and, who’s online video project “Make Friends” featuring the world’s most prominent religious leaders including Pope Francis, has been viewed 1.2 million times on YouTube. Another gold medalist was film-maker Deborah Paul whose moving story of her encounter in London with a Palestinian refugee, Christy Anastas won the Religious Freedom and Business Film prize. A special Corporate Education Award was given to global giants EY (Ernst and Young) for their work in creating an online training programme “Religious Literacy for Organisations”.

For full list of medal winners, see here.

The Symposium which is made up of business, political and academic leaders from around the world went on to discuss various aspects of Global Business and Peace with a focus on the role of religious belief in the work place and the role faith can play in the corporate world.

This is the second Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards. The inaugural awards were given the day before the opening of the Rio Paralympics in 2016. This pioneering peace initiative was started by RFBF and is a collaboration with the Global Compact Network Korea, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).

The Awards began after H.E. Ban Ki-moon established the Business for Peace platform in 2013 within the UNGC, the world’s largest corporate member organization committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, which notably include SGD 16 (Peace) “Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

BREAKING NEWS, Korea: Our Peace Delegation Has High Level Meetings at Presidential Blue House and Korean Parliament Tomorrow

6 Mar, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Seoul, Korea — At As North Korean’s Kim Jung-un and South Korea’s Pres. Moon agree to meet, we are holding the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards in Seoul.

On Wednesday we will hold high level meetings at the Korean National Assembly (Parliament), the Presidential Blue House, and with the Mayor of Seoul.

Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will keynote the March 7-8 Global Business & Peace Symposium. H.E. Ban Ki-moon established the Business for Peace platform in 2013 within the UNGC, the world’s largest corporate member organization committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, which notably include SGD 16 (Peace).

Soon after the establishment of Business for Peace, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation launched the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards, which are given out in the host country of each Summer and Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The inaugural awards were given the day before the opening of the Rio Paralympics, and this year’s awards will be given in Seoul the day before the opening of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympics.

The awards will be given along with other awards at the 2018 Global Business and Peace Symposium. Special honors will be given to business leaders who have worked to advance peace with North Korea, including some involved with the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), located inside North Korea just across the demilitarized zone from South Korea. The project was launched in 2004, largely financed by the South to increase co-operation. The Complex was abruptly closed on February 10, 2016 by former Korean President Park Geun-hye’s administration. The incumbent President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, has indicated a desire to “reopen and expand” the region. Of course, that now depends on progress with the security situation.

Pictured at left is H.E. Ban Ki-moon reviewing the details of the Global Business & Peace Symposium and Awards.

Previously, H.E. Ban Ki-moon participated in the first UNAOC’s business and peace symposium at the 2014 UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) meeting in Bali, Indonesia. At that meeting, a joint publication was launched between the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, Indonesian Global Compact Network (IGCN), and the UNGC’s Business for Peace Platform. Mr. Ban is pictured below with the research report, “Business: A Powerful Force Supporting Interfaith Understanding & Peace.”

Indeed, as the report showed, interfaith understanding – and its contribution to peace – is in the interest of business. The report highlights several key areas where this is clear:

  • Recent research shows that economic growth and global competitiveness are stronger when social hostilities involving religion are low and Government respect for, and protection of, the universally recognized human right of freedom is high.
  • Interfaith understanding also strengthens business by reducing corruption and encouraging broader freedoms while also increasing trust and fostering respect. Research shows that laws and practices stifling religion are related to higher levels of corruption. Similarly, religious freedom highly correlates with the presence of other freedoms and a range of social and economic goods, such as better health care and higher incomes for women.
  • Positively engaging around the issue of interfaith understanding also helps business to advance trust and respect with consumers, employees and possible partner organizations, which can give companies a competitive advantage as sustainability and ethics come to the forefront of corporate engagement with society.
  • With the shared vision of a more sustainable and inclusive global economy that delivers lasting benefits to people, communities and markets, it is clear that companies can make significant contributions to advancing interfaith understanding and peace through both core business and outreach activities. The examples in this publication offer an important step forward in providing companies with guidance on why and how they can make practical contributions in this area – in ways benefitting both their business and the societies where they operate.

IGCN president, Y.W. Junardy, took home the gold medal at the 2016 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards.