Media capture from RFBF. Brian J Grim, Ph.D. Georgetown University shown.


Comments by Brian Grim

Religion annually contributes nearly $1.2 trillion of socio-economic value to the U.S. economy, according to a September 2016 first-of-its-kind study that Melissa Grim and I published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion.


That is equivalent to being the world’s 15th largest national economy, putting it ahead of about 180 other countries. It’s more than the annual revenues of the world’s top 10 tech companies, including Apple, Amazon and Google. And it’s also more than 50% larger than that of the annual global revenues of America’s 6 largest oil and gas companies. So, you might say, that represents a lot of spiritually inspired fuel being pumped into the U.S. economy.

Religion certainly plays a unique role in the socio-economic behaviors of Americans. For example, adults who are highly religious are significantly more likely than those who are less religious to report they did volunteer work and made donations to the poor in the past week, according to the Pew Research Center.


Statistics drawn from PewResearchCenter

Religion contributes economically to American society in three general categories:

— Congregations: $418 billion

— Religious institutions: $303 billion

— Business: $437 billion (faith-based, -related or -inspired)

All these figures come from a careful analysis of survey and financial data from a wide range of national sources detailed in the research article in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion.

Sources include: National Congregations Study; Religious Congregations and Membership Study; Private School Universe Survey; Institution of Education Sciences; Becker’s Hospital Review; Revenue reports of faith-based health organizations, charities & businesses; Faith-related business data by Oxford University’s Said Business School Professor Theodore Roosevelt Malloch; Congregational “halo effect” analysis by University of Pennsylvania Professor Ram Cnaan; and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith.

Read the full article and report here.

Interfaith Failure and the Catholic Scandal

Religions are too isolated from one another, and as such we fail to recognize that what hurts one hurts all.

This is especially true in the modern world, characterized by increasing secularism, and by a global communications net in which everyone everywhere quickly knows what happens even in a small corner of our world.

The Catholic Church currently is in the throes of intense internal division, and possibly crippling scandal. The challenge facing the Catholic community has three related parts. 1. Members of the clergy, even at high levels have perpetrated sexual abuse of parishioners, even children. 2. Senior leaders, have covered up these crimes, even leaving known offenders in positions of clerical authority where they continue to commit these egregious and horrifying crimes against innocent and trusting believers. 3. For the first time, the Pope himself is now accused of being complicit in covering up and protecting clergy guilty of criminal, sexual abuse of parishioners including of children. Archbishop Carlo Mario Viganò released an 11-page dossier calling on Pope Francis to resign, accusing him of know about US Cardinal McCarrick’s criminal behavior. The former papal ambassador to Washington Vigano, claimed he was told Francis knew about sanctions placed on McCarrick by Benedict XVI in 2009 or 2010.

Pope Francis (left) Pope Benedict (right)

These horrors, and crimes are devastating to 1000s of upright, innocent, faithful and devoted Catholic leaders and clergy, and equally heart rending and confusing for the millions of humble, and sincere Catholic believers and families worldwide.

What is not making news, and what is not heard in commentary in the midst of all this is any sign or expression of concern, nor solidarity from leader and believer from non-Catholic religions. This tragic interfaith poverty reveals insensitivity of heart, and a failure of both intuition and compassion on the part of leaders and believers in the world’s religions. No one is living, acting, nor speaking unde the light of the obvious truth “what hurts one of us, hurts all of us.”

It is dull not to see the clear writing on the wall that Catholic problems sooner of later will equally hurt the cause of all religions.

Innocent and trusting believers in every religion will grow increasingly doubtful of religion in general. And all religions will suffer. Everyone knows that every religion has problems. It should be obvious that we must help one another..

Interfaith intelligence, awareness, and active responsibility should properly invoke intense investment, concern, and support from good and honest religious believers and leaders in every tradition.

We cannot be so insular, parochial, and separated in consciousness and heart that we can possibly turn a blind eye, exhibiting no care for people who suffer, simply because they are from traditions other than our own. Every religion should be better than that.

Frank Kaufmann

September 14, 2018

2018 Annual International Conference on Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding

Photo Credit: International Center for Ethno-Religious Meditation

The International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation believes that an international conference on the Traditional Systems of Conflict Resolution is highly needed at this crucial time in world history. The traditional rulers are the custodians of peace at the grassroots level, and for a long time, the international community has ignored them and their wealth of knowledge and wisdom in the areas of conflict resolution and peacebuilding. It is high time we included the traditional rulers and indigenous leaders in the discussion on international peace and security. It is high time we gave them the opportunity to contribute to our overall knowledge of conflict resolution, peacemaking and peacebuilding.

By organizing and hosting an international conference on the traditional systems of conflict resolution, we hope to not only begin a pluri-disciplinary, policy, and legal discussion on the traditional systems of conflict resolution, but most importantly, this international conference will serve as an international forum where researchers, scholars, policy makers and practitioners will have an opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from the traditional rulers from various countries around the world. In turn, the traditional rulers will discover emerging research and best practices presented by scholars and practitioners at the conference. The outcome of the exchange, inquiry and discussion will inform the international community on the roles and importance of the traditional systems of conflict resolution in our contemporary world.

Presentations at this international conference on the traditional systems of conflict resolution will be given by two groups of people. The first group of presenters are the delegates representing the councils of traditional rulers or indigenous leaders from various countries around the world who are invited to share best practices and speak on the roles the traditional rulers play in the peaceful resolution of conflict, promotion of social cohesion, peaceful coexistence and harmony, restorative justice, national security, and sustainable peace and development in their various countries. The second group of presenters are experts, researchers, scholars and policy makers whose accepted abstracts cover a wide range of qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods research studies on the traditional systems of conflict resolution, including, but not limited to, theoretical frameworks, models, cases, practices, historical analyses, comparative studies, sociological studies, policy and legal studies (both national and international), economic studies, cultural and ethnic studies, systems design, and processes of traditional systems of conflict resolution.


More than 150 scholarly papers have been accepted for presentation at the 5th Annual International Conference on Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding. 

Conference Location

The conference will be held at Queens College’s Patio Room


Queens College, City University of New York, 65-30 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11367

Dates and Agenda

October 29, 2018 – Arrival of Participants.

October 30, 2018 – Opening, Keynotes & Expert Panels at Queens College, NY.

October 31, 2018 – Academic Presentations & Panel Discussions at Queens College, NY.

November 1, 2018 – Academic Presentations, Inauguration of World Elders Forum, Closing Ceremony & Pray for Peace Event at Queens College, NY.

For more information, read the full article here.

Welcoming the stranger: Refugees are part of interfaith discussion, exhibit

Cawo Abdi, Mary Dana Hinton, Laurie Wohl and Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman will speak at the College of St. Benedict Wednesday, Sept. 5.
(Photo: College of St. Benedict, St. John’s University)

What often gets missed in these discussions, discussion revolving around refugee and immigration policy, are the actual humans these decisions affect. John Merkle hopes the human aspect will be a major part of the discussion at an interfaith, multi-media event at the College of St. Benedict this week.

He is the director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at St. John’s University, which is organizing the event.

On Wednesday, “Exile, Memory and Welcoming the Stranger” will celebrate the opening of an art exhibit that focuses on themes of exile and migration found in Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

“The main emphasis will be on ‘Welcoming the stranger,’ ” Merkle said. “That’s a biblical phrase. We picked that right up from the Bible.”

All three monotheistic religions have some emphasis on welcoming, protecting and supporting strangers, he said. “It’s something that’s mandated in each of the traditions.”

For more information, read the full article here.

‘Teach religion and worldviews instead of RE’

Schools should teach a wider range of religious and non-religious views, says the report.

Religious education in England’s schools should be renamed Religion and Worldviews to reflect the diversity of modern Britain, say experts.

The subject should include non-religious worldviews as well as major faiths, says the Commission on Religious Education final report.

It follows research suggesting at least a quarter of schools break the law on teaching RE.

The independent Commission was set up two years ago by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, amid growing concerns about the quality of RE lessons.

These include:

  • Fears that poor RE could leave pupils ignorant or bigoted
  • Evidence that growing numbers of schools do not teach RE
  • Ofsted’s finding that RE is less than good in about half of schools

The commission’s report confirms that the quality of RE in schools is “highly variable”.

There is some excellent practice in some schools. it says, but in others the amount of time allocated to the subject is being squeezed, and the subject is suffering from an across-the-board decline in specialist teachers.

The new subject would allow pupils to study the different traditions of major religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism but alongside these they would also look at non-religious worldviews like humanism, secularism, atheism and agnosticism.

Read the full article here.

Virtual reality tour brings ancient Jerusalem to life

In this Monday, Sept. 3, 2018 photo, released by the Tower of David Museum, a visitor uses goggles on a new virtual reality tour that allows visitors to experience how archaeologists believe Jerusalem looked 2,000 years ago (Tomer Zmora/Tower of David Museum via AP)

AP — A Jerusalem museum is breathing life into the ancient city with a new virtual reality tour that allows visitors to experience how archaeologists believe Jerusalem looked 2,000 years ago.

The Tower of David Museum, which is housed in the Old City’s ancient stronghold, plans to launch the high-tech guided tour this month ahead of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

The virtual reality guide, “Step into History,” offers visitors a chance to “walk in the streets of Jerusalem and enjoy the present and take a look back to the past,” said Tower of David Museum director Eilat Lieber.

Working with archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Lithodomos VR created 360-degree simulations of how Jerusalem’s citadel, palaces, streets and ancient Jewish Temple are believed to have appeared during its heyday under King Herod in the first century BCE and during the life of Jesus.

“Especially with Jerusalem, I think the biggest challenge was getting it right,” said Simon Young, founder of Lithodomos VR, an Australian startup. “There’s a lot of different opinions about how Jerusalem looked in the ancient world… Of course, we want to do justice to Jerusalem and to make it as accurate as possible.”

Read the full article here.

Students share personal experiences to grow as interfaith leaders

Interfaith Leadership Institute recognizes importance of building common ground

Students and educators from around the country gathered Aug. 3-5 in Chicago to share stories, build relationships with people of different backgrounds, and equip themselves with the skill set needed to lead interfaith conversations in the future, for the good of their religious communities and the world.

Students discuss how interfaith issues affect religiously-affiliated campuses during the 2018 Interfaith Leadership Institute, Aug. 3-5 in Chicago. (Courtesy of Interfaith Youth Core)

The Interfaith Leadership Institute is hosted by the Interfaith Youth Core, an organization founded by Eboo Patel, a former member of President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships. The Interfaith Youth Core, according to its mission statement, “partners with colleges and universities working to turn religious diversity into a positive force in our society.”

A student asks a question during Saturday’s panel discussion, Aug. 4. (Courtesy of Interfaith Youth Core)

“The Interfaith Leadership Institute (ILI) is the largest gathering of students and educators with a commitment to American religious pluralism,” the organization says of the conference, “Over the course of three days, participants learn to bridge divides and forge friendships across lines of religious and worldview differences.” This year, Patel reported that nearly 150 campus delegations participated.

Read the entire article here

Leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints “don’t want you calling them Mormons anymore”

This is an unusual entry in the news and commentary articles of the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP). 

The second half of the headline is from the CNN article that reads: “Mormons don’t want you calling them Mormons anymore.” The headline is coy, disrespectful , and provocative. 

Of course CNN would never publish a headline doing the same thing to any of the dozens of communities sacrosanct to CNN, blacks, homosexuals, transgender, immigrants, violent political activists, and so forth for a long list. [You yourself can create the same headline by CNN if they did the same thing to Blacks or Gays]. But for believers of a quiet, constructive, family oriented, conservative group that has risen from object of mob-violence to fielding a candidate for United States President, then its fine to mock. 

Historic Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints sits on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Why run the article at all? Because miraculously, despite it’s infantile and shameful headline, the news outlet actually does a good job of covering this significant development in the religious world. And that they have dedicated resources to cover important religious news at all is itself news. 

IRFWP re-publishes this article in our dedication to and support for greater interfaith understanding and relations. 

One of the very first steps in growing and improving in interfaith, is to make ever greater efforts to grasp deeply the self-understanding, and the needs and expectations of the group(s) with whom you seek to dialogue, and grow with in love and mutual care. 

It goes without saying that attending humbly to requests by any group about “how we like to be called,” is extremely important. And the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints have come forth with searing clarity about “how they like to be called.”  

This request is not simple, and despite being rude, CNN does a very good job to raise the right questions. Here is the beginning the article: (You can click at the bottom to read the CNN piece in its entirely)

(CNNThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is embarking on a rebranding effort of sorts.

The church, commonly referred to as the Mormons, really wants people to stop using that word. It also wants people to stop using LDS as an abbreviation. From now on, it prefers that people use the church’s full name, and when a shortened reference is needed, to just use “the Church” or “Church of Jesus Christ.”
These preferences are contained in a new style guide that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released Thursday. It states that while “the term ‘Mormon Church’ has long been publicly applied to the Church as a nickname, it is not an authorized title, and the Church discourages its use.” It also asks that the term “Mormons” not be used in references to members.


Homelessness Interfaith surpasses goal to house 1,000 homeless, near-homeless

Ryan Hershman, who has struggled with homelessness and addictions in the past, is now in an Escondido apartment where he is getting his life back together. He is hoping to one day have a non-profit to help people in similar situations. (John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Escondido-based Interfaith Community Services has announced it almost doubled the number of homeless and near-homeless people it housed in a year, surpassing a goal set in 2017.

“We’ve been doing a move-in a day,” Interfaith Executive Director Greg Anglea said about the success of the nonprofit’s Housing 1,000 initiative, which over the past 12 months found homes for 1,198 people, including 755 who were homeless.

This was the second consecutive year that an effort to house 1,000 people has been successful.

Interfaith’s initiative did not rely on vouchers, but instead raised money for rental assistance and security deposits through community donations.

Read the full article here.


Pope Francis shakes hands with Brian Grim

Coming on the heels of the first ever 80+ nation Religious Freedom Ministerial hosted at the US State Department, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute/Newseum are pleased to announce a new set of executive seminars and trainings that aim to educate business leaders about the significance of religious diversity, religious inclusion, and religious liberty in business and how those issues impact the bottom line.

The full- and half-day seminars are tailored for middle management executives who want to better understand how religious diversity and inclusion enhance the workplace.

Studies show that the most successful businesses encourage an environment in which employees can bring their “full self” to work. Employees need to feel comfortable, willing, and able to talk about what is most important to them. Employers benefit when they recognize and respect an employee’s religious identity, including their beliefs and practices.

In today’s increasingly competitive global business environment, companies will need to draw upon the unique talent and diverse experience of every employee. Employees that feel free to bring their entire self and identify to work demonstrate higher levels of innovation, creativity, and positive working environments, directly affecting business success. On the other hand, organizations that have environments of exclusion, intentional or not, risk excluding the next great business solution, the next great product idea, or talent retention.

As companies globalize, they’ll need employees who can relate to the daily experience of increasingly diverse customers. For billions of potential customers, including in the world’s fastest-growing economies, religious belief and practice are a part of daily life. Having employees who understand the ways religion manifests in private and public life will help companies avoid costly missteps and develop products and services better tailored to customer needs, and an essential part of being competitive.

Read for more information here.