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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Join RFBF President Grim for Council on Foreign Relations Conference Call – April 2

22 Sep, 2014

Invitation

2 April 2014: Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, to speak at the Council on Foreign Relations conference call series.On behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), I invite you to participate in the next session of the CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series on Wednesday, April 2, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. (ET). Dr. Brian J. Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation (RFBF), will lead the conversation on a recent study by the Pew Research Center that indicates religious hostilities have reached a six-year peak.

Prior to joining RFBF, Brian J. Grim was a senior research fellow for religion and world affairs at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Dr. Grim has also worked for two decades as an educator, researcher, and development coordinator in the former Soviet Union, China, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. He is an author of “The Price of Freedom Denied,” as well as numerous research articles and academic books on global religion.

As background for the discussion, you may wish to review the aforementioned study undertaken by the Pew Research Center, “Religious Hostilities Reach Six-Year High,” available at . Additionally, we encourage you to visit Dr. Grim’s blog “the Weekly Number,” available at 

If you would like to join the discussion, you may reply to this email or call Rick Chilton at 212.434.9678, and we will send you the toll free dial-in number and password. This invitation is transferable, but limited to religious leaders and scholars; we invite you to forward it to any colleagues who might be interested.

Best regards,

Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach,

Council on Foreign Relations, 58 East 68th Street, New York, New York 10065      ______________________________________________________________

The CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series seeks to engage religious and congregational leaders, scholars, and thinkers from across the country in cross-denominational conversations on global issues. Each call, led by a CFR expert and/or religious community leader, provides a nonpartisan forum for discussion on a broad range of pressing international issues. To access archived audio of calls in this series, along with a wealth of timely CFR content, visit: http://www.cfr.org/religion

BBC and Council on Foreign Relations interviews Grim

22 Sep, 2014
Press Release
Melissa E. Grim, Research Associate

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Religious Freedom & Business Foundation President Brian Grim was interviewed by the BBC where he discussed the issue of religious freedom in Oman and Pakistan on April 5, 2014.

In the interview, he notes that restrictions on religion, such as the prohibition against defamation of religion, while implemented with the intent to protect and promote respect, can often lead to a rise in social hostilities. For instance in Pakistan, there was a case of business rivals accusing each other of blasphemy for economic gain, both looking for the other to be punished for defamation.

This leads Grim to have concern for the accumulation of religious restrictions in nations such as Oman. The nation has a law with a ten year sentence for defamation of religion, as in the case of Pakistan, could lead to a rise in social hostilities that impact business.


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Foundation President Grim also held a phone conference with the Council on Foreign Relations on April 2, 2014. He took questions from numerous callers. 

In his opening segment he talked about how the research he did on global religious restrictions and hostilities led him to leave the Pew Research Center and found the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. Grim cited more than three decades worth of experience and evidence showing that nations with lower governmental and societal restrictions on religion are stronger and healthier than more restrictive nations. 

Interestingly though, Grim notes that while government officials, NGO representatives, religious groups and civil society members are paying attention, business leaders are absent from the discussion, even though businesses have a lot to gain because religious freedom is tied to economic growth. 

The Foundation aims to work with existing businesses and start-ups. Where a minority religion may be socially marginalized, Grim encourages the approach of looking to where there is an economic need in society and working with the minority to facilitate a sustainable solution, bringing both social and economic benefits to them and the larger society.

Press inquiries welcome.

Foundation to hold meetings in Helsinki, Finland

22 Sep, 2014
Press Release
Melissa E. Grim

Religious Freedom & Business Foundation President Brian Grim is visiting Finland, as part of its sustainability initiative to participate in discussions on how business and scientific endeavors can foster religious freedom while creating an economic return.

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Grim is accompanied by Brazilian businessman Carlos Martins for a series of meetings in Helsinki, Finland, on April 21 to 23, 2014.

The Finish Evangelical Lutheran Mission will be hosting discussions on the potential public and private partnerships in the recycling business benefitting marginalized groups in developing countries while fostering human rights and freedom of religion. They will meet with the Molok recycling company, which has businesses in places such as Namibia and India.

Among other events in Finland on April 22, 2014, Grim and Martins will meet with Mika Venamaki, Senior Economic Adviser at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. They will also meet with Sara Lindeman, Project Manager at Aalto University for Design, Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Science (renewable energy technologies).

Grim and Martins will also meet with the BYU Management Society on April 23, 2014. Other meetings will be with H.E. Norton de Andrade Mello Rapesta, Ambassador of Brazil to Finland, and lectures at the Annual Assembly of the Suomen Liikemiesten Lahetysliito to about forty Finish business people/executives.

After these meetings, Grim will speak at high level events in Oslo, Norway, and lecture in Moscow, Russia, on the connection between religious freedom and positive socio-economic outcomes.

Turning Waste to Wealth – A Strategy to Reverse Discrimination

22 Sep, 2014
Religious Freedom & Business Foundation President Brian Grim held a series of meetings in Finland and Norway to discuss the “waste to wealth” sustainability initiative of the Foundation.

7552448Grim with Jokinen at MOLOK factory

In Finland, Grim was accompanied by Brazilian businessman, Carlos Martins. Their meetings were arranged by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM), with the aim of initiating planning for a sustainable business in Pakistan and/or Nepal among theDalit communities.

Dalits are members of the so-called untouchable Hindu caste, and are often marginalized in communities where they live. A number of Dalits in India, Pakistan and Nepal have converted to other faiths, including Christianity. They continue to be among the poorest of the poor in many locations where they live, sometimes negatively stereotyped and consigned to collect garbage.

Turning this negative stereotype into an opportunity, potential partners held preliminary meetings to explore grass roots waste collection and recycling enterprises in Dalit areas. The criteria include that the projects must be locally sustainable, part of a broader community development plan, and involve international partners who receive not only a return on their investment, but learn new business innovations from the project itself.

Such projects help struggling minority communities acquire not only economic resources but also social capital that better integrates them within the societies in which they live.

The meetings were multi-disciplinary, including leaders from research, innovation, technology, government and business sectors. For instance, Grim met with Managing Director Hannu Jokinen (pictured above) of the waste management company MOLOK in Nokia, Finland. MOLOK developed an innovative and efficient waste management system that reduces disease, smell and costs, with work throughout the world including in developing countries such as Namibia.

MOLOK is a potential partner for the Foundation’s “waste-to-wealth” project that will eventually include recycling and construction firms, academic research groups and development agencies partnering with local entrepreneurs among Dalit communities.

Grim went on from Finland to Oslo, Norway, where he briefed leading members of Parliament and the foreign secretary on these initiatives. He also met with Per Leif Saxegaard, Chairman of the Business for Peace Foundation. Grim also delivered a keynote talk at the annual meeting of Stefanus Alliance International, a Christian-based human rights organization working for freedom of religion or belief for people of any faith or belief.

Call for Nominations of For-Profit Businesses Engaged in Promoting Inter-Faith Understanding and Peace

22 Sep, 2014
FRO IMMEDIATE RELASE – MAY 3, 2014 – l

The UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation call for nominations of businesses that have advanced interfaith understanding and peace through their core business and/or outreach activities to be highlighted in new resource/publication.

Deadline for nominations is May 23, 2014.

Building on the common objectives of the Business for Peace platform and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, these organizations are collaborating to develop a new resource/publication. This project will provide case studies that expand existing research showing that religious freedom leads to peace, stability, global competitiveness, and better business environments for majorities and minorities alike, including for women.

The resource will profile approximately 5 examples of how companies have taken action to advance inter-religious understanding and peace. Relevant examples will be drawn from multiple regions of the world and from a variety of business sectors.

  • Eligibility: Any company with ten or more employees that has taken concrete steps to address a challenge involving interfaith understanding or peace, ideally, as part of their core business, or alternatively through community outreach (see examples).
  • Recommended: Companies participating in the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform and that also indicate willingness to be part of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s RFB Global Network will be considered first. (Also see main nominations page.)
  • Deadline: Nominations must be received by May 23, 2014.

The case study project will also help set standards for the RF&B Foundation’s Biennial Religious Freedom & Business Global Awards. See NOMINATIONS for more information.

The Nuclear Option – Seminar on Religious Freedom & Business at Russia’s Nuclear University

22 Sep, 2014
PRESS RELEASE: May 3 2014

6937934Strikhanov and Grim, Moscow

As the conflict on the border of Russia and Ukraine dominates world headlines, scholars from both countries made their way to the National Nuclear Research University in Moscow for an unprecedented event – an international seminar on religious demography, religious freedom and business.

Behind the gates of the high security institution lie innovations in religion and public life that made news before the April 30 seminar. Within the nuclear science university, its head, Rector Mikhail Strikhanov (pictured above), established a department of theology. By his account, the department helps provide ethical and spiritual input for the future top scientists of the nation so that nuclear science develops for the good of humanity. Some, however, argued that religion had no place in the halls of science.

The department is chaired by Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church and, by some accounts, the number two figure in the Church. Staff in the department include physicists who, after graduating from the university, became priests and monks in the church.

Within this unique context, Dr. Brian Grim, a quantitative social scientist and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, led a seminar hosted personally by the Nuclear University’s rector. This full-day seminar was the culmination of a series of lectures on religious freedom’s relationship to social and economic outcomes at Moscow’s two leading institutions – Higher School of Economics.

These lectures and seminars are part of the Society, Religion, and Science Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the Postgraduate School of the Russian Orthodox Church  and the University of St. Thomas. They are organized by Rev. Vladimir Shmaliy, Dr. Iryna Khromets, and Dr. Dmitry Uzlaner. The lecture series brings prominent international scholars to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev.

Grim is not a newcomer to the region. He previously directed economic development projects in Soviet Central Asia during the final years of the USSR, and more recently lectured in the first international demographic conference hosted by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. He is also a contributor to the forthcoming Russian Encyclopedia of World Religion.

For more information or interviews, contact the RF&B Foundation.

Webinar: Religious Freedom is Good for Business

22 Sep, 2014
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM EDT

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Religious freedom enables business to be more productive. This webinar will review research and provide information about this relationship while offering concrete ways for the business community to collaborate with government and non-governmental organizations in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief.

The webinar will be co-hosted by the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform together with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. It will explain how businesses can effectively incorporate religious freedom in their strategic business plans for the benefit of their stakeholders, their employees, and society and also highlight the positive contributions to peace these actions can have in the workplace, marketplace, and local communities.  Finally, the webinar will also introduce a range of global initiatives that businesses and other stakeholders are welcome to join.REGISTER

In Mexico, doors open for Foundation’s work

22 Sep, 2014
The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s work in sustainable economic development for religious minorities, help for business executives to engage on religious freedom, and a certificate coursein religious freedom & business received enthusiastic interest in Mexico last week, as Foundation President Grim held a series of meetings with key audiences.

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ACADEMICS: The Foundation discussed the ways academics can contribute to the Foundation’s sustainable development projects and the certificate course with representatives from two of Mexico’s leading Universities, Monterey Technical Institute, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Grim has previously lectured for Monterey Tech as part of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faith & Globalization Initiative.

SOCIETY: The Foundation met with the Fundación Incluyendo México (Inclusive Foundation of Mexico) a foundation working for a sustainable and prosperous Mexico as well as the world at large, focusing on vulnerable communities and families. The Fundación Incluyendo has a broad network of business and civic leaders that are looking to engage in practical projects directed to these ends. The Fundación Incluyendo works with people of all faiths, including with the LDS Church in Mexico, which helped organize the meetings.

GOVERNMENT: Grim also met with several government leaders, including with Dr. Arturo Manuel Diaz Leon, Director General of Religious Associations, the Mexican agency that manages relations between the Mexican government and religious associations.

The Foundation anticipates further work in Mexico, beginning with a planning meeting in September 2014 and a forum in February/March 2015 to work on a sustainable business project that helps increase interfaith understanding and peace in southern Mexico, where traditional communities and newer faiths sometimes experience tensions and conflict.

For a summary of the religious freedom situation in Mexico, see the 2012 CSW report.

Brazil to host major events on Religious Freedom & Business

22 Sep, 2014
PRESS RELEASE – Brazil to host major events on religious freedom & business May 13-23, 2014, including a global webinar from Sao Paulo, Brazil’s commercial capital on May 21, and a forum in the capital, Brasilia, at the Congress on May 19.

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Join Us for a GOBAL WEBINAR: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM EDT

Religious freedom enables business to be more productive. This webinar will review research and provide information about this relationship while offering concrete ways for the business community to collaborate with government and non-governmental organizations in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief.

The webinar will be co-hosted by the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform together with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. It will explain how businesses can effectively incorporate religious freedom in their strategic business plans for the benefit of their stakeholders, their employees, and society and also highlight the positive contributions to peace these actions can have in the workplace, marketplace, and local communities.  Finally, the webinar will also introduce a range of global initiatives that businesses and other stakeholders are welcome to join. REGISTER


More than 600 registered to attend event in Brazil’s Congress, May 19

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Foundation’s work in Brazil takes major steps forward

22 Sep, 2014
IMMEDIATE RELEASE – BRASILIA: The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s U.S. and Brazilian officers met with leading business and political leaders in the capital, Brasilia, and in the financial capital, São Paulo.

1400423941Meeting at Presidential Palace

In Brasilia on May 14, the delegation led by Foundation President Brian Grim and the Brazilian Association President Ricardo Leite, met in the Presidential Palace Alvorada with the Minister of State and General Secretary of the President of the Republic, Gilberto Carvalho. Mr. Carvalho welcomed the Foundation’s recommendation that Brazil take a leading role in promoting religious freedom worldwide.

Deputy Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Ricardo Schaefer, expressed similar sentiments. Earlier in the day Grim and Brazilian board member Romanna Remor met with Jose Augusto Coelho Fernandes, Policy and Strategy Director of the Brazilian National Confederation of Industry, to review the latest research on religious freedom’s positive contribution to business and industry.

These meetings build on previous meetings with Brazil’s Vice President Temer and other leading business, political and religious leaders.

 

Brazilian Association Launched!

1400424489Brazilian Officers and Board

To support the Foundation’s ambitious initiatives in Brazil, a local association affiliated with the Foundation was officially inaugurated at a dinner in São Paulo on May 15. Political, business and religious leaders attended the gala (see photo gallery below).

The major project in Brazil will be the Religious Freedom & Business Global Awards to be presented in the host city of each summer and winter Olympics, beginning in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The Religious Freedom & Business Global Awards recognize best advances and innovations by businesses in improving respect for religious freedom.


The first major project will be a global webinar with the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace office broadcast from São Paulo on May 21.

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GLOBAL WEBINAR: May 21, 8:00 AM, EDT

On Wednesday, the Foundation and it’s Brazilian Association will work with the Business for Peace platform of the United Nations Global Compact to host the global webinar, “Religious Freedom is Good for Business.”

JOIN THE DISCUSSION on how religious freedom enables business to be more productive. This webinar will review research and provide information about this relationship while offering concrete ways for the business community to collaborate with government and non-governmental organizations in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief.

The webinar will be co-hosted by the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform together with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RF&BF). It will explain how businesses can effectively incorporate religious freedom in their strategic business plans for the benefit of their stakeholders, their employees, and society and also highlight the positive contributions to peace these actions can have in the workplace, marketplace, and local communities. Finally, the webinar will also introduce a range of global initiatives that businesses and other stakeholders are welcome to join. REGISTER

Speakers include (all times are EDT, New York):

  • 8:00 – 8:05 – Overview of latest data on religious freedom and business (Brian Grim, President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation)
  • 8:05 – 8:10 – Overview of UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace initiatives (Melissa Powell, Head, Business for Peace)
  • 8:10 – 8:15 – Business as a strategy to empower a religious minority – Dalits in Pakistan/Nepal (Katri Leino-Nzau, Director of Development, Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission)
  • 8:15 – 8:20 – Brazil: A case study in engaging businesses, government and civil society (Ricardo Leite, Esq., and President of Brazil’s Association of Religious Freedom & Business)
  • 8:20 – 8:25 – Brazil: An Open Society that’s Open for Business (Carlos Wizard Martins, Founder of the nearly billion dollar Wizard language Schools)
  • 8:25 – 8:30 – How to help corporations respect religious diversity (Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq. CEO TANENBAUM)
  • 8:30 – 8:35 – How can corporations better retain expat employees by standing up for religious freedom? (Greg Clark, Esq., and Vice President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation)
  • 8:35 – 8:40 – Showcasing Religious Freedom and Business at the World Expo in Milan (Pasquale Annicchino, Ph.D., LL.M., Senior Research Fellow, , Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, and Research Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute)
  • 8:40 – 8:45 – Tibet: A Case Study in Economic and Social Integration (Otto Kölbl Université de Lausanne Faculté des lettres, section d’allemand)
  • 8:45 – 9:00 – Q&A, and Other Opportunities to Engage, including: 2015 Forum in Milan; 2016 Global Awards in Rio; Global Opportunity-Matching Database