By Devin Watkins
The US State Department is hosting an international summit on the topic of religious freedom.
Dr. Brian Grim, President and founder of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, is a speaker at the event taking place on July 24-26 in Washington, D.C. He spoke to Devin Watkins about his message for the 80 foreign ministers and governmental representatives in attendance.
Dr. Grim said he told them that religious freedom has strong ties with sustainable development.
“It’s associated with other human rights, and it creates a business climate that is good for pretty much all business, except bullet and bomb makers,” he said.
How is religious freedom good for business?
When asked how exactly religious freedom is better for business, Dr. Grim gave three ways the two relate.
“First, it creates a peaceful climate that is conducive to social and integral human development,” he said.
“Second, when you have religious freedom, that sets free everyone in society to innovate and participate in both the social and economic fabric of the country.” Dr. Grim said religious minorities have provided many innovations that have filtered into business.
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, he noted, was the product of a religious minority in the United States, the Seventh-Day Adventists. They were seeking to have “a better diet so that their bodies could be strong vessels for the Holy Spirit”, he said.
Third, Dr. Grim pointed out, “is that religious freedom, when practiced within the workplace, means that you respect people’s beliefs and that you accommodate their beliefs… and that increases employee morale and buy-in to the mission of the company.”
Dr. Grim said one thing that stands out for him about the religious freedom summit hosted by the US is the variety of countries participating in it.
“Given the different opinions about the Trump Administration, I think this event is exceptional in that it’s broadly inclusive, including people from all different societies who have expressed an interest in promoting religious freedom.”
He said participants include delegations from “countries as diverse as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Pledge to promote religious freedom
Turning to the mission of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, Dr. Grim said his organization seeks “to disseminate accurate information on the connection between religious freedom and economic progress.”
“We find that religious freedom is one of the few characteristics of a country that predicts long-term sustainable development,” he said.
The Foundation, he noted, seeks to get business leaders to commit to “a corporate pledge on religious diversity and inclusion.”
Dr. Grim said scores of companies from around the world, including Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and secular majority countries, have signed up to this pledge.