<![CDATA[Brian Grim - Weekly Number Blog]]>Tue, 06 Dec 2016 11:58:38 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Religion still packs a punch in the United States]]>Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:57:53 GMThttp://theweeklynumber.com/weekly-number-blog/religion-still-packs-a-punch-in-the-united-statesSecularism may be on the rise, but for many Americans, religion remains a powerful force in politics and in business. See article on secularism's blindspot at the World Economic Forum

<![CDATA[At $1.2 Trillion, US Religion is Worth More than the 6 Largest US Oil & Gas Companies]]>Mon, 19 Sep 2016 04:00:00 GMThttp://theweeklynumber.com/weekly-number-blog/at-12-trillion-us-religion-is-worth-more-than-6-largest-us-oil-gas-companiesby Brian Grim
Religion annually contributes nearly $1.2 trillion of socio-economic value to the U.S. economy, according to a new study I published together with my daughter, Melissa Grim, 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 does play 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.
As I’ll explain, the contributions of religion to American society fall into three general categories:
  • $418 billion from religious congregations
  • $303 billion from other religious institutions
  • $437 billion from faith-based, faith-related or faith-inspired businesses
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.


Congregations: contribute $418 billion to the American economy each year. 
  • This comes from more than 344,000 congregations representing hundreds of different denominations and religions.
  • By way of context, this number represents 26 congregations for every one Starbucks in the United States. So you’d have to pass 26 places of worship in order to find your first Starbucks brew.
  • Unlike a coffee that has one basic service, these congregations provide 1.5 million different types of social and community service programs.
Congregations have four main avenues of socio-economic impact:
  • The local spending and operations of congregations themselves
  • Primary and secondary schools attached to local congregations
  • The Magnet effect of attracting additional activity to the local community
  • And the value of the impact all these activities have on individuals
Each year congregations spend $84 billion on their operations ranging from paying hundreds of thousands of personnel, to paying for goods and service as diverse as flowers, sounds systems, maintenance, and utilities. Almost all being spent right in the local community.
Schools attached to congregations employ 420,000 full time teachers and train 4.5 million students each year. By comparison this is the same number as the total population of Ireland or New Zealand.
Congregations are like magnets attracting economic activity ranging from weddings, as I’ve already mentioned and can give personal detail on, to lectures, congresses, and even tourism. For instance, 120,000 congregations report that people visit them to view their art and architecture. Here are just a few examples….
Finally, and most importantly, it’s what congregations do in their communities that makes the biggest socio-economic contribution. These programs impact individuals and families in a variety of important ways.
For example:
  • Congregations provide 130,000 alcohol recovery programs such as The Saddleback Church “Celebrate Recovery” program that has helped over 27,000 individuals over the past 25 years.
  • Congregations provide 120,000 programs to help the unemployed. For example, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has employment service centers in each of their stakes across the country (and across the world), for that matter.
Some of this work runs counter to stereotypes some may have about religious groups. For instance,
  • Nearly 26,000 congregations are engaged in some form of active ministry to help people living with HIV-AIDS. That makes one HIV-AIDS ministry for every 46 people who are HIV positive. Just this past weekend on 9/11, under the sponsorship of Walgreen’s and the “First Ladies” (pastors’ wives) of Chicago, nearly 50 Chicago churches hosted free screening for HIV and other diseases.
  • In fact, the data show that congregations overwhelmingly include a society-building, outward community focus, with over 320,000 congregations helping to recruit volunteers for programs outside their walls, to non-religious groups, ranging from Big Brothers and Big Sisters to the United Way and the American Red Cross.
I’d like to briefly tell you the story of how a congregational school impacts individuals who then impact the community for good. St. Benedict’s Prep readies 530 mostly poor, mostly minority boys for college and beyond. In an area where public schools are working hard just to keep young men from ending up in gangs, in jail or dead, St. Benedict’s sends 95% of its graduates to college, including a sizable number to Ivy League schools.
And graduates, such as Uriel Burwell, return to make an impact. Upon graduating from Drew University, Uriel returned to his childhood neighborhood to build 50 new affordable houses, rehabilitate more than 30 homes and attracted more than $3 million funding to build additional affordable homes and apartments in the area.
Religious Institutions: If we extend our view beyond what happens at local congregations and schools, we can find tens of thousands of other religiously-affiliated charities, health care facilities, and institutions of higher learning also doing these sorts of good works every day. These add another $303 billion of socio-economic impact to the US economy each year.
These includes:
  • Charities such as the Knights of Columbus whose 1.5 million members respond to disasters and other human needs
  • Health care services such as provided by the Adventist Health Systems which employ 78,000 people in 46 hospitals
  • Institutions of higher education such as Brandeis University which is one of thousands of religiously-based colleges throughout the country
  • I could go on for hours describing such as institutions as Islamic Relief USA, which responded to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, by hiring 20 local staff and distributing 135,000 gallons of water during the height of the water crisis.
  • Rather than continuing to give examples, I will now move to the third sector, business
Businesses: Religion related business add another $438 billion to the US economy each year. These include faith-based businesses, ranging from the Halal and Kosher food industries to religious media such as EWTN and the Christian Broadcast Network.
The largest group within this sector are not religious companies, per se, but are faith-inspired or religion-friendly companies. Tyson’s Foods, for example, employs a large force of chaplains for their multi-religious workforce.
VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmdRc0OsHzw
Across the country there are associations of CEOs who seek to put the moral and ethical teachings of their faith to practice in their business. One such association is C12 with over 2,500 members, some of whom have business worth billions of dollars.
I’d like to end with a surprising example – an example showing how one American CEO, motivated by his faith, has started a company in Mozambique that not only stocks the shelves of America’s major food stores – from Giant and Wegmans to Whole Foods and H.E.B. – but empowers tens of thousands of people. His innovative business model is based on what he calls a “reverse tithe” – where 90% of profits go back into the local community. That means many American consumers are participating in a faith endeavor, perhaps unaware.
In conclusion, as a social scientist, a main goal for our work is to increase knowledge. Part of that goal is to bring to light examples like Don Larson’s, that may be surprising, where faith motivates profound economic transformations in the lives of people and communities. And another part of the goal of social science research is to provide useful data and analysis to all with a stake in the success of society – not just people in government, but also those in the business and religious sectors.
<![CDATA[Dramatic religious & economic shifts to impact planet, Brill Yearbook of International Religious Demography]]>Mon, 01 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMThttp://theweeklynumber.com/weekly-number-blog/dramatic-religious-economic-shifts-to-impact-planet-brill-yearbook-of-international-religious-demographyPicture
Dramatic religious and economic shifts will impact our planet in the decades ahead. This is the major finding of a study* in the just-released Yearbook of International Religious Demography 2016The study provides insights into the global marketplace’s growing religious diversity by linking the best available demographic and economic data.

This is one among a series of studies and data in the third annual volume of the Yearbook of International Religious Demography (Brill, 2016).**

​The Yearbook presents an annual snapshot of the state of religious statistics around the world. Every year large amounts of data are collected through censuses, surveys, polls, religious communities, scholars, and a host of other sources. These data are collated and analyzed by research centers and scholars around the world.

​Large amounts of data appear in analyzed form in the World Religion Database (Brill), aiming at a researcher’s audience. The Yearbook presents data in sets of tables and scholarly articles spanning social science, demography, history, and geography. Each issue offers findings, sources, methods, and implications surrounding international religious demography. Each year an assessment is made of new data made available since the previous issue of the yearbook. 

* Chapter 5: “Changing Religion, Changing Economies: Future Global Religious and Economic Growth,” Brian J. Grim and Phillip Connor
** ​Edited by Brian J. Grim (Religious Freedom and Business Foundation), Todd M. Johnson (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), Vegard Skirbekk (Columbia University) and Gina A. Zurlo (Boston University).

Table of contents

Part I: Religious demographic data
Chapter 1: The world by religion
Todd M. Johnson, Gina A. Zurlo, and Peter F. Crossing

Chapter 2: Religions by continent
Todd M. Johnson, Gina A. Zurlo, and Peter F. Crossing

Part II: Case studies and methodology 
Chapter 3: “Religious Beliefs and Practices in Argentina: An Approach from Quantitative Data” 
Juan Cruz Esquivel and Fortunato Mallimaci

Chapter 4: “African Pentecostal Churches in Italy: A Troubled Presence in a Catholic Country”
Annalisa Butticci

Chapter 5: “Changing Religion, Changing Economies: Future Global Religious and Economic Growth”
Brian J. Grim and Phillip Connor

Chapter 6: “Exploring Islam in the Americas from Demographic and Ethnographic Perspectives”
Ken Chitwood

Chapter 7: “Faith and Health Globally”
Vegard Skirbekk and Marcin Stonawski 

Chapter 8: “Shifting Christian Identities in Brazil: What the Numbers (Do Not) Show”
Rodrigo Franklin de Sousa

Chapter 9: “Religious Demographics and Democracy”
Davis Brown

Part III: Data sources
Chapter 10: “Data Sources”
Juan Carlos Esparza Ochoa and María Concepción Servín Nieto

Biographical note

Brian J. Grim, Ph.D. (2005), Pennsylvania State University, is President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, an affiliated scholar at Georgetown and Boston Universities, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s council on the role of faith.

Todd M. Johnson, Ph.D. (1993), William Carey International University, is Associate Professor of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford, 2001) and co-editor of the Atlas of Global Christianity (Edinburgh, 2009).

Vegard Skirbekk, Ph.D. (2005), Rostock University, is a professor at Columbia University. His research is on religious fertility differentials and the global distribution and future of religion.

Gina A. Zurlo (Ph.D. candidate), Boston University, is a Research Associate at Boston University’s Institute of Culture, Religion and World Affairs and Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

The Yearbook is a reference book primarily aimed at scholars, government officials, journalists, and others who are interested in the numbers and analysis of religious adherents around the world.
<![CDATA[Human Georgaphy of Three-fold Rise in Anti-Muslim incidents in UK]]>Tue, 05 Jul 2016 19:26:43 GMThttp://theweeklynumber.com/weekly-number-blog/human-georgaphy-of-three-fold-rise-in-anti-muslim-incidents-in-ukPicture
A new report by UK-based Tell MAMA* (Measuring anti-Muslim Attacks) finds that reports of in-person (i.e., not online) anti-Muslim incidents in the UK tripled in calendar year 2015. This was before the recent Brexit vote in support of Great Britain leaving the European Union, in part fueled by anti-immigrant sentiments among other factors. The increase is also against the global backdrop of ongoing religion-related terrorist attacks, some of which single out non-Muslims, such as the July 1 attack in Bangladesh.

The Tell MAMA report covers verified anti-Muslim hate incidents reported to Tell MAMA from 1 January to 31 December 2015. Tell MAMA received 1,128 reports of anti-Muslim incidents from victims, witnesses and third party organisations. Each incident was added to their database as a form by a caseworker, reviewed by a senior caseworker, and analysed by a researcher. Each incident is verified as a unique, genuine anti-Muslim crime or incident by multiple members of the Tell MAMA team.

While the new report shows a significant increase in the reported and verified anti-Muslim incidents, it does not account for unreported attacks. It may also reflect better reporting. 

Offline (in-person) Incidents by Geographic Location

Offline figures trebled in the 2015 calendar year:
The number of offline incidents have trebled from 146 in 2014/15 (12 months to March 2015) to 437 ‘offline’ incidents in the 2015 calendar year. This shows an increase of 300 per cent and there was an increase over time on the previous reporting period by 200 per cent. ‘Offline’ incidents happened in-person between a victim (or property) and a perpetrator.

Anti-Muslim hate impacts Muslims when they travel, shop and socialise in public
Our data shows that the hotspots of anti-Muslim hate occur when Muslims use public and private transport networks, walk in public spaces of cities, and where they do their shopping.

The largest proportion of victims are Muslim women, perpetrators are overwhelmingly male
Muslim women are more likely to be attacked than men in most settings. The largest proportion of perpetrators are white males. This means that the largest proportion of incidents involves Muslim women, usually wearing Islamic clothing – be it the hijab, abaya or niqab.  Verbal abuse from men often carries misogynistic, racist and Islamophobic overtones.

Verbal abuse and assaults were most common incident types in offline cases
Of the ‘offline’ cases, 219 involved verbal abuse and 74 involved assault (including common assault, battery, as well as attempted and grievous bodily harm).

Incidents often occur near major public transport areas
It appears that areas near arterial roads in metropolitan areas experience a relatively higher level of anti-Muslim hate crime. Similarly, 84 per cent of all incidents in London recorded by Tell MAMA and the MPS occurred within 200 metres of a bus stop and 48 per cent of all incidents occurred within 100 metres of a bus stop.

​Far-right, nativist hate speech about Muslims and Islam online is being normalised
A majority of cases reported to Tell MAMA in the online sphere concerned hate speech, harassment and bullying on Facebook and Twitter. Our analysis found that nativist, far-right language construed Muslims as violent rapists or terrorists and a cultural threat to Britain. Our data reveals that 45 per cent of perpetrators of online incidents are verifiably supportive of the far-right. If we could not prove far-right affiliation, it demonstrates that far-right narratives are being normalised in online discussions which directly and indirectly target Muslims online.

Muslim Women: Tell MAMA found that 61% of all recordable incidents had victims who were female. 55% of all victims were visibly Muslim, but 75% of all female victims were visibly Muslim. Women are therefore more likely than men to be attacked on public transit hubs or whilst shopping. This also highlights the fact that visibility through the Hijab (the religious headscarf) and the Niqab (the face-veil) play a role in the targeting of the individual. 

Allied to this, Tell MAMA found a 326% increase in street based anti-Muslim incidents and with this increment partly being due to an increase in street based hate incidents with perpetrators putting their 'hatred into action.' Additionally, many victims reported that they did not see bystanders challenging abusive perpetrators, which compounded the insecurity and alienation that they felt after experience anti-Muslim hatred.

Online Far Right Activities: Tell MAMA found that in 2015, 45% of online perpetrators of anti-Muslim hate incidents were verifiably supportive of far right extremist groups. Far right extremism, like Islamist extremism, is promoted using social media and online sources and the high percentage of far right extremists involved in this activity highlights that more understanding of such extremism is needed by social media providers and by search engine service providers such as Google.  

Of the incidents Tell MAMA picked up on Twitter in 2015, 88% of incidents involved abusive language and/or harassment. 11% of incidents on Twitter involved violent threats either directed at an individual or institution, (such as a mosque), or indirect threats that refer to Islam and Muslims in general.

Also, the use of the word 'burn' in language online was particularly disturbing, which referred to direct and indirect threats and calls for attacks specifically on mosques. Of the 32 times the word appeared in cases, at least 20 instances were where burn was used as a verb in reference to mosques or the Qur'an.

Pereptrator Demographic: Data collected directly from victims also highlights that the largest proportion of incidents involved perpetrators from the ages of 13-18 years old. This is worrying considering that many opinion polls demonstrate that those in this age group are less likely than older people to harbour racist, xenophobic, and anti-Muslim sentiments. It also suggests that some teenagers are being radicalised and are moving away from the mainstream views of their age group who are much more multicultural in their orientation.

Localities of Hate: Furthermore, Tell MAMA found that areas with high concentration of Muslim populations and with high densities of transportation hubs leading to city centres are key areas where clusters of anti-Muslim hate incidents can be found.

We also found a substantial number of incidents that occurred in educational establishments, representing 11% of all incidents reported in. Given that schools are an important place for educating and socialising young people in multi-cultural settings, the fact that there are more incidents in educational institutions than took place against Muslim institutions is troubling. It also suggests that the Department for Education and Ofsted need to consider anti-Muslim bullying and hate in its evaluations of schools and that teaching staff are adequately trained to identify, challenge and combat bigotry towards Muslims in the classroom. Of the 46 incidents reported in educational institutions, 35 (76%) involved abusive behaviour or a physical attack.

Muslims in Service Industries Affected by Anti-Muslim Hatred: 2015 victim data also highlighted another troubling societal issues, that of Muslims being affected in service industries.  

We found that most of the male victims in this category worked in customer service positions, (such as food preparation and delivery services, as well as the taxi and security industries). Data indicated that men working in these sectors of work were particularly vulnerable to anti-Muslim hate incidents.

Remembering & Reflecting on Jo Cox MP, Her Work and Her Legacy     
Faith Matters had met with Jo Cox MP and were looking to launch the report highlighted above, on the 29th of June 2016. To honour her memory, Paula Sherriff MP very kindly stepped in and ensured that the launch of the report took place. 

​Faith Matters developed this video in memory of Jo Cox. Her values stood for tolerance, inclusion and the desire to help all people. These are values that we will protect and cheshire. We will never allow hatred, prejudice and intolerance to become the norm.

On 16 June 2016, Cox was fatally shot and stabbed outside the library in Birstall, West Yorkshire, where she was about to hold a constituency surgery at 1:00 pm. According to eyewitnesses, she was shot three times—once near the head—and stabbed multiple times. A 77-year-old man, Bernard Kenny, was stabbed in the stomach while trying to fend off her attacker. Initial reports indicated that the gunman shouted "Britain first" as he carried out the attack. The far-right Britain First party issued a statement denying any involvement or encouragement in the attack and suggested that the phrase "could have been a slogan rather than a reference to our party".

​Tell MAMA is a confidential and independent third-party hate crime reporting service in the UK for individuals who experience anti-Muslim hate incidents and crimes. Victims can also report in through Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, by e-mail and through the Tell MAMA web-site itself (www.tellmamauk.org)
<![CDATA[Societal Harassment of Christians & Jews Hits 8-year High, Finds New Global Study]]>Mon, 27 Jun 2016 20:01:55 GMThttp://theweeklynumber.com/weekly-number-blog/-harassment-of-christians-jews-hits-8-year-high-finds-new-global-studyThe harassment of Christians and Jews in societies around the world reached an eight-year high, according to a new study just released by ​Pew Research
The study notes that some of this harassment was at the hands of terror groups such as the Nigerian-based Islamist group Boko Haram. In April 2014, the group kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Secondary School in the largely Christian town of Chibok, located in Nigeria’s northern state of Borno. The kidnapping triggered a global social media campaign under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which was widely supported by celebrities worldwide.

Anti-Semitism is sharply rising. A recent survey of European Jewish Leaders and Opinion Formers polled 314 leaders in 32 countries, found that two-in-five Jewish leaders across Europe believe the rise in anti-Semitism represents a "major threat" to the future of their communities, according to a new report. They expressed particular concern over hatred against Jews on the internet.

According to Pew, social harassment of specific religious groups takes many forms, including physical assaults; kidnappings; desecration of holy sites; and discrimination against religious groups in employment, education and housing. Harassment and intimidation also include things such as verbal assaults on members of one religious group by other groups or individuals.

Overall, Christians, Muslims and Jews were harassed in the most countries according to an analysis of data for 2014, the most recent year for which information is published. The total number of countries where Christians were harassed by groups in society increased to 85, up from 74 countries 2007. The sharpest increase was seen in the harassment of Jews, which occurred in 80 countries, up from 46 in at the beginning of the eight-year study. Muslims were harassed in 81, compared with 64 in 2007.

The Pew study notes that "Some religious groups are more likely to be harassed by governments, while others are more likely to be harassed by individuals or groups in society (see table below). Jews, for example, were harassed by individuals or groups in society in many more countries (80) than they were by governments (31) in 2014. The number of countries with social harassment of Jews was up sharply from 2013. There was a big increase in the number of countries where Muslims were harassed by some level of government (80 countries in 2014, up from 73 in 2013). There also was a big increase in the number of countries where Christians were harassed by individuals or groups in society (85 countries in 2014, up from 71 in 2013)."
<![CDATA[Religious freedom sets people free to do good, an under-told story]]>Sat, 18 Jun 2016 12:21:59 GMThttp://theweeklynumber.com/weekly-number-blog/religious-freedom-sets-people-free-to-do-good-an-under-told-storyPicture
An important benefit of religious freedom is its role in setting people free to do good. Research shows that the freedom to actively participate in religion leads to a more socially engaged population. According to a recent Pew Research study, people who are highly religious are more engaged with their extended families, more likely to volunteer and be charitable, more involved in their communities, and generally happier with the way things are going in their lives. 

Faith is not the only motivator of generosity, but it definitely is a significant one. However, religious freedom and the civic participation it fosters is a story lost to many in societies where the populations are becoming more secular and less religiously active. The many daily headlines that rightly, but narrowly highlight people’s concerns about religion -- ranging from clergy sex abuse to religion-related terrorism -- often miss or overlook the clear positive contributions of faith and freedom to society. 

A generation ago, this wasn't the case. Most newspapers were local, and most of them had a dedicated religion section and reporters covering the local religion beat. An that's the very place where the positive contributions of faith to society are most evident, ranging from visitation of the elderly to caring for the poor to providing centers for spiritual and social enrichment. But, as news has become more driven by sensationalism, coverage of stories considered "fluff" has collapsed. 

Hannah Elliot discussed the decline of local religion news nearly a decade ago, and since then, the decline in the religion beat is stark. But, this does not mean that positive dimensions go unreported. Bethany Rodgers, a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, covered the Pew study and discussed the practical impact on central Florida in a recent article, Central Florida's faithful bolster nonprofit outreach. 
Quoting the Pew study, the Orlando Sentinel notes that 45% of highly religious people — those who said they pray daily and attend weekly services – reported they had volunteered in the past week. By comparison, only 28% of others indicated they'd volunteered over that time frame. And 65% percent of the highly religious individuals said they had donated money, time or goods to the poor in the past week, compared with 41% of people who were defined as being less religious.

The article notes that in the Orlando area, religious adherents are integral to the nonprofit network, according to Mark Brewer, president and chief executive officer of the Central Florida Foundation, a philanthropic organization. "We couldn't deliver a lot of human services without either faith-focused or faith-based organizations or initiatives at some of the major churches." Brewer said. For example, churches, synagogues, mosques and other congregations represent part of the Central Florida safety net, according to Brewer.

Of course, the study shows that religion, though a significant motivator of charity, is not the only motivation. The Orlando Sentinel notes that the impulse driving many religious people to volunteer might have nothing to do with belief in God, quoting Joseph Richardson, who belongs to a local group of secularists. Acts of kindness often flow from a humanist perspective that atheists and theists alike can embrace, he said. "Having this compassion and empathy for fellow human beings and understanding that they hurt and need help sometimes … that's the kind of motivation that we have for doing volunteer work," Richardson said.

<![CDATA[1500 Religious Prisoners in 20 Countries, finds study]]>Wed, 11 May 2016 15:30:34 GMThttp://theweeklynumber.com/weekly-number-blog/1500-religious-prisoners-in-20-countries-finds-studyPicture
Willy Fautré and Mark Barwick of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) presented the organisation's 2015 Report to the Working Group for the European People's Party (EPP) on Intercultural and Religious Dialogue, meeting under the chairmanship of MEP Laszlo Tökes on the 10th of May in Strasbourg.

The report, entitled "Religious or Belief Groups under State Oppression," documents over 1500 cases of prisoners belonging to 15 minority groups[1] in 20 different countries[2].

Mr Fautré commented that the religious or belief communities that have been targeted by state oppression share one common denominator: "Regardless of the country where they are persecuted or the regime that oppresses them, they are wrongly perceived by the state as a threat to the identity of the nation, a threat to security or a threat to the territorial integrity of the country."

Article 18 of the ICCPR guarantees the freedom to practice a religion or belief of one's choice "either individually or in community with others."

"This community dimension is present in most religions and shapes profoundly religious identity," said Mr Barwick, "and that can make governments uneasy. It can trigger actions to monitor, control, ban and even suppress that community by violent means and consequently anyone who is associated with that community."

Such suppression of religious identity can contribute to radicalization, it was pointed out, especially among disaffected youth of targeted minorities. However, when religious identity is recognised and respected, this can open the door to greater understanding and be a catalyst for building social cohesion.

"If such prejudices could be uprooted," added Mr Fautré, "trust could be restored and the plight of these vulnerable minorities could be dramatically alleviated."

The full report report is available here.

The List of Prisoners country by country and denomination by denomination is available here.
[1]      Ahmadis, Atheists, Baha'is, Buddhists, Erfan e-Halghe, Falun Gong, Jehovah's Witnesses, Orthodox, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Said Nursi Followers, Shias, Sufis, Sunnis, Tablighi Jamaat
[2]      Azerbaijan, Bhutan, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Laos, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

Read the full article and report on HRWF website 

<![CDATA[Islam & Religious Freedom - a Growing Initiative]]>Mon, 09 May 2016 10:44:52 GMThttp://theweeklynumber.com/weekly-number-blog/islam-religious-freedom-a-growing-initiativeThe Center for Islam and Religious Freedom (CIRF) engages in research, education, media, and advocacy at the intersection of Islam and religious freedom. Picture
The Center for Islam and Religious Freedom (CIRF) conducts RESEARCH that focuses on religious freedom perspectives rooted in the traditions of Islam, as well as modern domestic and international law relevant to the intersection of Islam and religious freedom. 

Through this research, CIRF is developing religious freedom EDUCATION for Muslims, the first of which will be offered at the Fairfax Institute in the fall of 2016. 

As part of its media production, CIRF has translated religious freedom MEDIA by Muslims into over a dozen languages, including Arabic, French, Hausa, and Urdu. CIRF has also developed an online library of professionally-recorded audio versions of many of these translations.

In addition to its academic and research-based work, CIRF engages in ADVOCACY as a Muslim voice in support of religious freedom, and as a vehicle for Muslim participation in religious freedom advocacy.

Watch this 5 minute video for an introduction to CIRF: Center for Islam and Religious Freedom

Read more about CIRF's vision: "Religious Freedom: Arguments from Islam" by Areej Hassan, May 15, 2015.

<![CDATA[Business suffers as religious freedom deteriorates, new report]]>Tue, 03 May 2016 15:23:45 GMThttp://theweeklynumber.com/weekly-number-blog/business-suffers-as-religious-freedom-deteriorates-new-reportPicture
Business suffers as religious freedom deteriorates, according to a new report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. The report catalogues a series of cases where businesses are targeted as respect for the internationally recognized human right of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) is not respected. 

These cases are concerning but not surprising given research by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation showing that violations of religious freedom have an adverse impact on a country's business climate and economy. 

The cases outlined in the new report include:

CHINA: Local authorities in parts of Xinjiang also threatened action against Muslim business owners if they declined to sell alcohol and cigarettes based on their religious beliefs and traditions. 

ERITREA: Since 1994, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been barred from obtaining government-issued identity and travel documents, government jobs, and business licenses. Eritrean identity cards are required for legal recognition of marriages or land purchases. The State Department reported that some local authorities denied water and gas to Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

The lack of fundamental human rights and economic opportunities in Eritrea has led thousands of Eritreans to flee the country to neighboring states and beyond to seek asylum, including in Europe and the United States, according to the report. The UN reported in 2015 that since 2014 an estimated six percent of the population has fled the country. 

NORTH KOREA: In part due to ongoing egregious violations of human rights, including the absence of religious freedom, in February, the US Congress approved and President Barack Obama signed into law the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, which imposes both mandatory and discretionary sanctions against individuals conducting certain kinds of business with North Korea. This cuts off important business connections and possibilities for the country to emerge from isolation. 

NIGERIA: Since 1999, violence between Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria, particularly in the Middle Belt states, has resulted in the deaths of more than 18,000 people, displaced hundreds of thousands, and damaged or destroyed thousands of churches, mosques, businesses, homes, and other structures. While this violence usually does not start as a religious conflict, it often takes on religious undertones and is perceived as a religion-based conflict for many involved.

The Nigerian government’s efforts against Boko Haram continue to be primarily military actions. While it has announced multiple initiatives to support Boko Haram’s victims and address the economic and educational issues driving conflict, there have been no concrete actions, according to the report. A December 2015 comprehensive conference for the northeast was delayed indefinitely, and it is unclear who in the Nigerian government is responsible for Northeastern affairs. Further, the Nigerian government is doing little to counter radicalization among potential Boko Haram recruits.

VIETNAM: During 2015, local authorities in some areas continued to harass and question the independent Buddhist faith Hoa Hao in connection with the practice of their religion. For example, worshippers’ homes and businesses in Dong Thap Province were repeatedly vandalized and surveilled, causing significant disruptions to their livelihoods. Khmer Krom Buddhists experienced similar harassment. For example, local authorities in Soc Trang Province have allowed private enterprises to establish commercial businesses on temple grounds, which Khmer Krom Buddhists believe violates the sanctity of the temples. Independent Cao Dai followers in Phu Yen Province protested the local government’s attempts to bulldoze Tuy An Temple where they worship.

TAJIKISTAN: With the Russian economy’s recent downturn, hundreds of thousands of Tajik workers have returned home to few job prospects, giving rise to new social tensions. In 2015 Secretary Kerry made a public statement noting Tajikistan’s security and economic challenges and highlighted the need to fight violent extremism while respecting human rights, religious freedom, and active political participation. 

INDIA: Article 48 of the Indian constitution and most Indian states (24 out of 29, as of 2015) significantly restrict or ban cow slaughter, which is required for Muslims during Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice). The application of these provisions also economically marginalizes Muslims and Dalits (who adhere to various religious faiths); many members of these communities work in the beef industry, including slaughter for consumption, hauling items, and producing leather goods. Under state criminal laws, individuals can face up to 10 years in jail or a fine of up to 10,000 rupees (US$150) for the slaughter or possession of cows or bulls or the consumption of beef, and mere accusations of violations can lead to violence.

Separately, non-Hindu Dalits, especially Christians and Muslims, do not qualify for the official reserves for jobs or school placement available to Hindu Dalits, putting these groups at a significant economic and social advancement disadvantage. 

BAHRAIN: In October 2015, UN experts found that patterns of cultural, economic, educational, and social discrimination against Shi’a Muslims in Bahrain persisted in 2015. They found that excessive use of force and abuses targeting Shi’a clerics continued, as did discrimination in the education system, media, public sector employment, and other government social policies, such as housing and welfare programs. 

<![CDATA[Call for Papers: International Religious Demography]]>Mon, 04 Apr 2016 14:08:37 GMThttp://theweeklynumber.com/weekly-number-blog/call-for-papers-international-religious-demography
Email submission ideas for the 2017 edition to Gina Zurlo <gzurlo@bu.edu>.

The Yearbook

The Yearbook of International Religious Demography presents an annual snapshot of the state of religious statistics around the world. Every year large amounts of data are collected through censuses, surveys, polls, religious communities, scholars, and a host of other sources. These data are collated and analyzed by research centers and scholars around the world. Large amounts of data appear in analyzed form in the World Religion Database (Brill), aiming at a researcher’s audience. The Yearbook presents data in sets of tables and scholarly articles spanning social science, demography, history, and geography. Each issue offers findings, sources, methods, and implications surrounding international religious demography. Each year an assessment is made of new data made available since the previous issue of the yearbook.

Edited by Brian J. Grim (Georgetown and Boston University), Todd M. Johnson (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), Vegard Skirbekk (Columbia University), Gina A. Zurlo, (Boston University).