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Brazil Human Rights Minister Praises Foundation’s Work

17 Sep, 2014

Human Rights Minister, Ideli Salvatti, praised the innovate work of the Brazilian Religious Freedom & Business Association ( ALRN ) in a meeting this week in Brasilia. (ALRN is the Brazilian affiliate of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, based in the U.S.)

Minister Ideli received ALRN board members Romanna Remor and Silvio Guimarães on Tuesday. During the meeting, Ideli invited ALRN to attend the Second World Human Rights Forum this December in Morocco, a follow up to last year’s Forum in Brasilia. Minister Ideli discussed with Remor and Guimarães possible collaboration between Ministry and ALRN for a global prize for initiatives protecting religious freedom.

This meeting comes on the heels of other high level meetings between the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and Brazil’s Vice President Temer and Secretary General of the Republic Carvalho.

During the meeting, the Minister praised the innovative nature of ALRN. “By associating religious freedom and diversity to economic and social development, it addresses a key topic from a unique perspective,” she said. “And this fits with the Brazilian love of difference and diversity … which promotes the development of the country itself.” And indeed, research indicates that Brazil does value religious freedom and diversity.

Brazil has lowest government restriction on religion among 25 largest countries

Among the 25 most populous countries, only six have low government restrictions on religion (average between 2006-2012), with Brazil having the lowest of all (see chart). Brazil has lower restrictions, in fact, than the United States, where restrictions have been rising.

Religious freedom is highly valued in Brazil. For instance, when Brazilians were asked in a 2006 Pew Research survey whether it was important to live in a country where there is freedom of religion for religions other than their own, nearly the same percentage of people indicated that this was important (95%) as indicated that it was important to live in a country where they can practice their own religion freely (96%).

An expression of such support for religious freedom occurred this spring when the government of São Paulo – Brazil’s commercial center and the western hemisphere’s most populous city at 20 million – declared that henceforth May 25th will be “religious freedom day.” This declaration coincided with a multi-faith religious freedom festival that drew nearly 30,000 participants, including the participation of the Catholic archdiocese, leading politicians and celebrities.

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Business brings peace and religious freedom, finds new study

17 Sep, 2014

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 22, 2014: Business is a powerful force for peace, interfaith understanding and religious freedom, finds a new study by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.* The study breaks new ground by showing that business is good for religious freedom.

This new study builds on another recent global analysis that found the converse is also true – religious freedom is good for business.

While human rights organizations often focus on holding businesses accountable to human rights standards (perhaps understandably), these case studies begin with a different question: How can business be a force for social good and at the same time make a profit?

The new study examines a range of case studies and finds that “impact investments” by businesses can result in increased interfaith understanding, religious freedom and peace.

The case studies come from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America, and were chosen to be illustrative, not exhaustive. The study’s limitation, however, is that it does not show the extent to which business is a force for peace, interfaith understanding and religious freedom. Rather, the study shows that business can be, and some businesses certainly are.

CASE STUDIES

  • Coke Serves Up Love and Peace with Small World Machines – Last year, Coca-Cola brought some laughter and joy to one of the most volatile and dangerous regions on earth, when it installed two Small World Machines in New Delhi, India, and Lahore, Pakistan.

  • BMW AWARD, Driving Global Peace and Success – For luxury carmaker BMW, intercultural understanding is more than just a nice sentiment, it’s “an essential part of our daily work,” says Bill McAndrews, the company’s Vice President for Communications. Indeed, since 1997, BMW has been actively promoting cooperative dialogue between different cultures, giving out awards to support businesses that innovate interculturally. Awards highlighted are (1) Helping Muslim Youth in the Philippines; (2) Giving a Voice to the Voiceless in India; and (3) Promoting Understanding Through Tourism in the Holy Lands.

  • Nigerian Conflict: Is Business the Answer? – In Nigeria, businesses and economic development NGOs are working to stop widespread religious violence between Christians and Muslims, which has already taken hundreds of lives and threatens to thrust parts of the country into civil war.

  • World Cup Highlights Struggles & Contributions of Afro-Brazilians

    – In Brazil, where religious freedom is generally well-protected, Brazilians of African descent still face discrimination for their appearance and beliefs, including their religious beliefs. But an NGO, the Afro-Brazilian Incubator, is working to fight this discrimination by promoting entrepreneurship among Afro-Brazilians.

  • Indonesian Businesses Open Their Doors to Faith and Action – In Indonesia, businesses are at the forefront of efforts to promote interfaith understanding. For instance, EXPRESS Taxi, with a fleet of more than 7,000 taxis in Jakarta, promotes a faith-friendly workplace by setting up prayer rooms and facilitating Muslim and Christian observances as well as celebrations of Chinese New Year. In addition, businesses in Indonesia have worked to fix large, seemingly intractable social problems such as helping 4,541 poor couples in interfaith marriages to receive the proper marriage licenses.

* These case studies do not imply an endorsement of any company profiled. The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has no tie to any of the companies studied. The case studies are part of collaboration with the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform and will be presented at the next UN Alliance of Civilizations meeting in Bali, Indonesia, at the end of August 2014. The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation also solicits more case studies, and will recognize and give global awards for the best innovations in religious freedom & business in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, host of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Stay up to date with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s Newsletter! Media inquiries, contact Melissa Grim, 410-268-7809, melissa@religiousfreedomandbusiness.org.