As people of goodwill take different positions on religious freedom, it is important to focus on empirical connections between religious freedom and socio-economic outcomes.
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The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) studies freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) and its impact on society, business and the economy. These studies and their findings are made available through various research articles and publications as well as in blogs and op-eds.

RFBF, collaborators and associates have produced a landmark study on the positive connection between religious freedom and economic strength. They have also produced a first-of-its kind study of ways that businesses around the world are involved in supporting interfaith understanding and peace. All of these are available on the RFBF website

This week, RFBF is launching a new commentary section, Leaders Speak Out. The foundation is hosting a series of articles where business, religious and civic leaders speak out on countering violent extremism and increasing interfaith understanding and peace. The first two contributors are both members of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith: 
For more on the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s own work on utilizing religious freedom to counter radicalization, see the Empowerment+ Initiative, which is designed to be piloted in London. It will counter radicalization through mentoring relationships, integrative business and self-reliance. 

 
 
The Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world. The project's interactive website is still in development; over time, they report that it will grow to include additional data from the Pew Research Center’s demographic studies and public opinion surveys. They welcome feedback and suggestions by email at web@pewforum.org.  
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Given its role in building economies, mobilizing people around a shared purpose and pioneering cross-cultural management styles, business has an important stake in promoting intercultural and interreligious understanding, including freedom of religion or belief.
PictureStoryboard from 1st B4P Meeting, Istanbul
On June 23, 2015, at the United Nations, a special session explores how successfully managing diversity and fostering tolerance and understanding – among employees, consumers and other stakeholders – is increasingly essential for long-term business success. Brian Grim will moderate the session.

This session is part of the Second Business for Peace (B4P) Annual Event: Building Peace, Realizing Sustainable Development will leverage the great momentum behind the business for peace movement to convene stakeholders from around the world in New York as part of Global Compact+15: Business as a force for good (23-25 June), which marks the UN Global Compact’s 15th anniversary. The B4P Annual Event will bring together representatives of business, Global Compact Local Networks, civil society, investors and Governments to focus on why and how business can play an important role in supporting peace and stability, rule of law and good governance – all critical building blocks for implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16.

The Strategic Needs

General: High-risk and conflict-affected areas are home to over half of the world’s population living on less than $1.25 a day. Violent conflict disrupts markets and business opportunities. If the world had been 25% more peaceful in 2010 – the global economy would have gained an additional economic benefit of over US$2 trillion. Company materiality is tied to the health of the communities where they operate. Long-term financial success goes hand-in-hand with social and environmental responsibility. 

Religious: According to the Pew Research Center, approximately three-in-four people today (73%) live in countries with high levels of social hostilities involving religion. But, interfaith understanding – and its contribution to peace – is in the interest of business.
  • Recent research shows that economic growth and global competitiveness are stronger when social hostilities involving religion are low and government respect for, and protection of, the universally recognized human right of freedom is high. 
  • Interfaith understanding also strengthens business by reducing corruption and encouraging broader freedoms while also increasing trust and fostering respect. Research shows that laws and practices stifling religion are related to higher levels of corruption. Similarly, religious freedom highly correlates with the presence of other freedoms and a range of social and economic goods, such as better health care and higher incomes for women. 
  • Positively engaging around the issue of interfaith understanding also helps business to advance trust and respect with consumers, employees and possible partner organizations, which can give companies a competitive advantage as sustainability and ethics come to the forefront of corporate engagement with society. 
  • With the shared vision of a more sustainable and inclusive global economy that delivers lasting benefits to people, communities and markets, it is clear that companies can make significant contributions to advancing interfaith understanding and peace through both core business and outreach activities. 

For more, see the examples in a joint UNGC-Religious Freedom & Business Foundation publication that offer an important step forward in providing companies with guidance on why and how they can make practical contributions in this area – in ways benefitting both their business and the societies where they operate.

 
 
Among the 26 most populous countries, Brazil has the highest levels of religious freedom, higher, in fact, than the United States, where government restrictions on religious freedom have been rising.
Brazil Religious Freedom  Brian Grimthe Weekly Number
Brazil - the world's fifth most populous nation - not only out performs other countries of is size, the Brazilian government has the best record on religious freedom worldwide, placing virtually no measurable restrictions on religious freedom, scoring 0.2 out of a maximum of 10.0 on the Government Restrictions on Religion index, recently published by the Pew Research Center. 

Only five countries score at that level: 
  • Brazil
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Marshall Islands
  • Palau 
  • Suriname

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Among the 26 most populous nations, seven have governments that are very highly restrictive of religious freedom (see chart): China (scoring 9.1 out of 10.0), Indonesia (8.5), Iran (8.3), Egypt (8.2), Burma/Myanmar (7.7), Russia (7.4), Turkey (7.4), according to the Pew index. Six are highly restrictive: Pakistan (6.4), Vietnam (6.1), Bangladesh (5.2), India (5.0), Ethiopia (4.6), and Germany (4.5). Five are moderately restrictive: Thailand (4.4), France (4.2), Nigeria (4.1), Mexico (3.4), and the United States (3.0). And eight have low government restrictions on religious freedom: South Korea (2.0), Italy (2.0), United Kingdom (1.7), D.R. Congo (1.1), Japan (1.1), Philippines (1.0), South Africa (0.7), Brazil (0.2). 

Brazil is also one of only six countries among the 26 most populous where government restrictions on religion have decline since the Pew study began making these estimates. The others are the Philippines, the D.R. Congo, Mexico, Vietnam, and Burma (Myanmar). 

Countries with the greatest increases in government restrictions on religion between 2007 and 2013 are:
  • Indonesia 2.3-point increase  
  • Ethiopia 2.0-point increase
  • Thailand 1.8-point increase 
  • Russia 1.6-point increase 
  • Germany 1.4-point increase 
  • United States 1.4-point increase 
  • China 1.3 -point increase 
  • Bangladesh 1.2-point increase 
  • Egypt 1.0-point increase

 
 
Today, the world's seventh largest Christian population lives in China. By 2050 it could become the world's largest. This has been argued by sociologist Fenggang Yang of Purdue University. 
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Prof. Yang is one of the world’s leading experts on religion in China. He estimates that the Christian population in China grew at an average annual rate of 7% between 1950 and 2010. At this rate, he estimates that the Christian proportion of China’s population could grow from about 5% in 2010 to 67% in 2050.

While a new study by the Pew Research Center concludes that the religious future of China is uncertain due to data limitations, of which I've written extensively,* the Pew study offers three "sensitivity tests" looking at the effects of religious switching on the future size of the Chinese Christian population:

  • "As of 2010, China had an estimated 68 million Christians and 701 million unaffiliated people. Due primarily to differences in the age and sex composition of these initial populations, in the main projection scenario – which does not attempt to model religious switching – China’s Christian population is expected to grow slightly by 2050, to 71 million, while the unaffiliated population is expected to decline to 663 million."

  • "Under that main scenario, 5.4% of China’s population and 31.4% of the world’s total population will be Christian in 2050. If China’s Christian population were to decline to Japanese levels (2.4% of the country’s population) in 2050, it would reduce the Christian share of the global population to 30.9%. On the other hand, if China’s Christian population was to increase to the level projected for South Korea in 2050 (33.3% of the country’s population), it would raise the count of Christians in China to 437 million and the share of Christians in the world’s overall population to 35.3%."

  • "And if everyone who is currently unaffiliated in China were to convert to Christianity by 2050, China’s population would be 56.2% Christian (734 million Christians), raising the Christian share of the world’s population to 38.5% and lowering the unaffiliated share of the global population to 6.1%. Though that scenario may be unlikely, it offers a rough sense of how much difference religious switching in China maximally could have by 2050. Extremely rapid growth of Christianity in China could maintain or, conceivably, even increase Christianity’s current numerical advantage as the world’s largest religion, and it could significantly accelerate the projected decline by 2050 in the share of the global population that is religiously unaffiliated." (Pew Research)

* The reason that the religious future in China is so difficult to estimate is due to measurement difficulties ranging from reluctance of individuals to disclose religious affiliation to pollsters to the massive internal migration that has seen well over one hundred million people move from the countryside into cities since 1980. Much of this movement - considered the largest migration in human history - is difficult to track and count, including whether the Christians who moved from the countryside have stimulated Christian growth in cities or have lost touch with their roots. Thus, there are no reliable sources to precisely measure patterns of religious conversion in China.

One thing is clear, Christianity's future in China will have a measurable impact on global Christianity. For more on China, see my recent article, What Christianly Contributes to China's Economic Rise.

 
 
In a new study reported in Demographic Research, my colleagues and I offer new demographic estimates of the size of major religious groups projected to 2050.* (For my analysis of the economic and security implications of this, see links at bottom.)
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From the introduction: "Social scientists have a long history of predicting the demise of religion. Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, Sigmund Freud, and Karl Marx envisioned the decline of organized religion and the rise of the religiously unaffiliated. More recently the idea that the unaffiliated population will increase has been promoted using mathematical models of social group competition (Abrams, Yaple et al. 2011) and assumptions that growing economic development will lead to evolution away from religion (Barber 2012). But these predictions did not take demography into account − specifically, that patterns in global population growth favor those who have religious affiliation (Norris and Inglehart 2004; Kaufmann 2010)." 

"Our new demographic analysis finds that affiliated women have more children than unaffiliated women − nearly a full child more per woman, on average, worldwide. In addition, the global median age of affiliated women is six years younger than unaffiliated women, so they have more potential years of childbearing and living ahead. We project these demographic characteristics will result in a more religiously affiliated global population in coming decades. Although current patterns of religious switching favor the unaffiliated, they are insufficient at the global level to offset the demographic advantages of the affiliated." 

Background: People who are religiously unaffiliated (including self-identifying atheists and agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is "nothing in particular") made up 16.4% of the world's population in 2010. Unaffiliated populations have been growing in North America and Europe, leading some to expect that this group will grow as a share of the world's population. However, such forecasts overlook the impact of demographic factors, such as fertility and the large, aging unaffiliated population in Asia.

Objective: We project the future size of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated populations around the world.

Methods: We use multistate cohort-component methods to project the size of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated populations. Projection inputs such as religious composition, differential fertility, and age structure data, as well as religious switching patterns, are based on the best available census and survey data for each country. This research is based on an analysis of more than 2,500 data sources.

Results: Taking demographic factors into account, we project that the unaffiliated will make up 13.2% of the world’s population in 2050. The median age of religiously affiliated women is six years younger than unaffiliated women. The 2010-15 Total Fertility Rate for those with a religious affiliation is 2.59 children per woman, nearly a full child higher than the rate for the unaffiliated (1.65 children per woman).

Conclusions: The religiously unaffiliated are projected to decline as a share of the world's population in the decades ahead because their net growth through religious switching will be more than offset by higher childbearing among the younger affiliated population.

* Conrad Hackett, Marcin Stonawski, Michaela Potančoková, Brian J. Grim, and Vegard Skirbekk (2015). The future size of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated populations: Descriptive findingDemographic Research, Volume 32, Article 27, pages 829-842. http://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol32/27/default.htm 

Author's Affiliation
Conrad Hackett - Pew Research Center, United States of America 
Marcin Stonawski - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria
Michaela Potančoková - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria
Brian J. Grim - Boston University, United States of America
Vegard Skirbekk - Columbia University, United States of America

Related Commentaries by Brian Grim:

 
 
Weekly Number author, Brian Grim, discussed the rising fear in Europe of the growth of Islam in an interview this month with the Associated Press. Grim concludes that the fear of “Eurabia” – the demographic dominance of Europe by Muslims – is unfounded, based on a global study he previously led at the Pew Research Center.
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The Pew study projects that Europe’s Muslim population will almost grow to 58 million by 2030, nearly double the figure of about 30 million in 1990. While that is a large numeric increase, it would only be an increase from 4.1 percent to 8 percent of Europe’s population (669 million are projected to be non-Muslims in 2030). 

The Pew study also suggests that the period of greatest growth in Muslim populations is already past (see chart) as the initial large waves of Muslim immigrants begin to slow. Also, as Muslims become more integrated, they tend to have fewer children.


The cultural dimensions of a growing - but slowing - European Muslim population include having greater visibility, as most Muslims are immigrants or children of immigrants, often with distinctive dress and customs. Perhaps, however, the greatest recent impact is in the radicalization of young Muslims, including European converts to Islam.

For a way forward in countering extremist radicalization, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is proposing that the problem of some in society becoming radicalized should be tackled by building relationships with those at risk, including through business and diverse faith communities. This approach capitalizes on one of religious freedom’s greatest assets — setting people of faith free to do radically good things.

For more on this initiative, see:
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Hostilities toward religious minorities in Europe are especially widespread. The share of countries in the region where Muslims and Jews are harassed is double and triple the rates in the rest of the world, according to a new Pew Research study.*
Jews Muslims Europe Brian Grim
Jews and Muslims faced harassment in a similar share of European countries, 76% and 71% respectively in 2013, according to Pew. By contrast, in the rest of the world, Jews and Muslims were harassed in 25% and 34% of countries. 

Harassment, as measured in the Pew study, takes many forms, including physical assaults, the desecration of holy sites, and discrimination against religious groups in employment, education or housing. Harassment also includes such things as verbal assaults on members of one religious group by other groups or individuals in society.

Sharing the same rocky boat
Negative European attitudes toward Jews are associated with negative attitudes toward Muslims, according to separate research I previously carried out with Richard Wike.**

Our analysis found that negative views about Muslims are part of a larger structure of negative attitudes towards "outgroups" generally. This suggests that negative views of Muslims are part of a broader set of xenophobic attitudes. So, to fully understand how Westerners think about Muslims or Jews, it is important to consider both perceptions individuals have related specifically to minorities in general. 

The Wike-Grim study identified a number of attitudes that are likely drivers of negative attitudes toward Muslims, which may indirectly help fuel tensions toward other minorities. First, threat perception perhaps the single most important predictor of ingroup attitudes toward outgroups. People who feel threatened by Muslims are more likely to associate negative characteristics with them. As the reality of violent extremism of the sort that struck Paris in January and Copenhagen in February continues, the sense of threat is likely continuing to rise. 

Second, both security threats and cultural threats have discernible effects on negative attitudes. Consistently, across all five countries in the Wike-Grim study, the perception of security-related threats was the strongest predictor of negative views regarding Muslims, while cultural threats concerning integration and the compatibility of Islam with life in the West are a contributing factor. The study suggests that security concerns are the true drivers of negative views toward Muslims, or using terms other researchers have employed, ‘‘realistic’’ or ‘‘existential’’ threats are the most significant determinant of Western public opinion regarding Muslims. 

Third, the Wike-Grim study finds that higher socio-economic status is associated with positive views of Muslims, although again this relationship is generally indirect. Individuals with more education and higher incomes are less likely to say Islamic extremism threatens their country or that a large number of Muslims support extremist groups; and in turn, they are less likely to hold negative opinions of Muslims. 

A Way Forward
For a discussion on a way to lower tensions and increase integration and trust, see my response to President Obama's summit on countering extremist violence.

* For more on the Pew Research study, see an interview by David Masci of researcher Peter Henne on the methodology, and additional discussion of the findings on Europe by researcher Angelina Theodorou. 

** Western Views Toward Muslims: Evidence from a 2006 Cross-National Survey, by Richard Wike and Brian J. Grim, International Journal of Public Opinion Research (2010) 22 (1): 4-25. 

 
 
A new analysis by The Weekly Number shows that religious hostilities are consistently more likely to occur in countries where governments restrict proselytizing than in countries without such restrictions. For instance, looking at Pew Research data, hostilities over proselytizing are five times more likely in countries with laws restricting proselytism than in countries with no such restrictions. Also, hostilities over conversions are more than four times as likely in countries with laws restricting proselytism as in countries without restrictions. (See data chart at the end.) 

These findings are notable because often the justification given for laws restricting proselytism is to prevent religious unrest. 
Brian Grim Religious FreedomMormon (LDS) missionaries in Samoa
Part of the unease with "proselytism" is that the term itself has taken on a negative connotation. In its neutral form, it simply means sharing one's faith with others in an attempt to convince them to join your faith or belief. In this way, it is like any discussion where one person tries to get another to see the truth of his or her position. 

But objections to proselytism sometimes stem from being associated in the minds of some with either unwelcome preaching or coercive argument. And in some cases, accusations of forced conversions or even purchased conversions are associated with the term proselytization. 

Certainly, coercion in matters of religion should be resolutely rejected. 

But there are non-coercive missionary endeavors that people may still find objectionable. For some, proselytism is viewed as an intrusion into matters that are personal or cultural. In that way, it might be like an advertisement or argument from a company or political party one finds disagreeable. As long as you can change the station or turn the television off, then presumably no harm, no foul.

One of the most common faces of proselytism are the 75,000 young Mormon men and women volunteering as missionaries throughout the world with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). On the one hand, in conversations with many former Mormon missionaries, some point to experiencing negative reactions to their proselytizing mission espousing a restored Christianity. Certainly, many parents who send their children off on their two-year missions have a dose of apprehension for the reception their children might face. But overwhelmingly, LDS missionaries report positive experiences, and it's not uncommon for former missionaries to return to the places they served around the world later in life to do business or other forms of service. (For a Mormon perspective on their missionary work, see the last vignette of a missionary mom in the recent film, Meet the Mormons.) 

While Mormons might be a visible missionary force, the two largest religions - Christianity and Islam in their various forms - are proselytizing faiths fielding hundreds of thousands of missionaries. 

So, why might proselytizing be associated with lower religious hostilities? There are a number of plausible reasons, but I will name just three. First, religious hostilities tend to be highest when governments restrict religious freedom, which includes proselytism, as was established in my articles and book with Penn State professor Roger Finke. In The Price of Freedom Denied, we demonstrated that restrictions on religious freedom often accrue to the benefit of monopolistic religions and coercive governments. By contrast, when religious freedom is protected and people are free to persuade others of their beliefs, societies have a rich pluralism that gives space for moderate voices within religions. 

Second, proselytism adds to this pluralism and moderation by taking religion from the shadows where violent extremism tends to grow and putting it into the public spotlight. Indeed, as I have argued, it is important for people of various faiths to engage people at risk of extremist radicalization with other faith arguments. To the extent that violent extremism feeds on the lack of informed religious understanding, proselytizing is one mechanism through which diverse and arguably less violent forms of religion can be explored. To be clear, I'm not advocating proselytism as a strategy to counter violent extremism, but certainly few would disagree that people lured down that path of radical violence need to be converted to a more peaceful and productive perspective.

And third, research by political scientist Robert Woodberry demonstrates historically and statistically that proselytizing Protestants heavily influenced the rise and spread of stable democracy around the world. His recent article in the American Political Science Review shows that such missions were a crucial catalyst initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, and colonial reforms, thereby creating the conditions that made stable democracy more likely. In a similar way, as proselytizing missionaries encounter human need, they are often the people on the ground calling for response. This ranges from Southern Baptists helping to bring in disaster relief to Ismaili Muslim missionaries tied to the great humanitarian resources of the Aga Khan Development Network.  

What About Catholics

Brian Grim Pope Francis
Pope Francis caused quite a stir when he said that the Lord "has invited us to preach, not to proselytize."  To some, they may seem the same. But in his mind, they are apparently quite distinct. Citing Benedict XVI, he said that "the Church grows not to proselytize, but to attract." And this attraction, he said, comes from the testimony of "those who proclaim the gratuity of salvation."

Pope Francis also said during a weekly Sunday Angelus, addressing the skeptical in the crowd, that "the Lord is calling you to be a part of His people and He does it with great respect and love. The Lord does not proselytize; He gives love. And this love seeks you and waits for you, you who at this moment do not believe or are far away. And this is the love of God.” Pope Francis prayed that “all the Church” may be steeped in “the joy of evangelizing” invoking the aid of the Virgin Mary so that “we can all be disciple-missionaries, small stars that reflect His light.”

Various commentators have sought to explain his comments. Suffice it to say, with a term as potentially loaded as "proselytism," Pope Francis seems to be adroitly pointing to the way many Catholics perceive as best to proselytize - through deeds and example, in addition to words. 

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The problem of some in society becoming radicalized should be tackled by building relationships with those at risk, including through business and faith communities, writes Brian Grim in a Tony Blair Faith Foundation commentary.*
Brian grim radicalization
As Europeans join and return from fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, people from across the world, including world leaders, agree that something must be done urgently.

The January 2015 attacks in Paris, carried out by those with a reported link to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), made this abundantly clear. Beyond policing European streets and coordinating an international response to ISIS, what more should be done?

The answer involves understanding two things: the socio-economic context of ISIS's horrific advance, and the diverse social and personal paths to radicalisation.

According to a Pew Research survey in 2013, in the years running up to the ISIS advance the Iraqi public's chief concern was unemployment. Less than half of those surveyed in Iraq considered conflict between religious groups to be a very large problem, but by contrast, three-quarters of those surveyed considered unemployment to be a "very large problem" for the country. Indeed, the lack of jobs arguably softened the ground for ISIS' sudden advance.

Although research indicates that a poor economy does not cause violent extremism, it contributes to the conditions that terrorists can exploit. Indeed, terrorists know how to use poverty and wealth for their benefit. They recruit suicide bombers from the ranks of the poor and they look to the wealthy for cash because, asobserved in the Yale Review of International Studies, the rich "would rather donate their money than their sons to the cause."

More than that, radical extremists think strategically about business and the economy. The January attacks in Paris targeted two local businesses connected with much bigger industries:Hyper Cacher (the multi-billion dollar Kosher food industry) and Charlie Hebdo (the multi-trillion dollar media industry).

On a larger scale, the 9/11 al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre in New York – soaring symbols of development and progress – was not a random choice. In 2004, Osama bin Laden said in a taped speech, "We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Every dollar of al-Qaeda defeated a million dollars [spent by the US], including the loss of a huge number of jobs."

Some studies suggest that radical extremism can play a role during times of global economic downturn, but whether or not this is the case, the foreign policy focus of many of the world's leading economies has without a doubt been on war and peace rather than business.

So, if violent extremists attack businesses and take advantage of a bad economy to sow seeds of religious discord and violence, could better business be part of the response to radical extremism? Yes, but this requires an understanding that the radicalisation process is not only social but also deeply personal.

The "pathway by which one person is radicalised can have a completely different effect on someone else", observes Raffaello Pantucci of London's RUSI think tank. A similar conclusionwas reached by the Paris-based Centre of Prevention of Sectarian Derivatives linked to Islam (CPDSI), which finds that contemporary extremist discourse appeals to those from any background, not just those who are considered socially "at risk".

The whole world would like to see an improvement in the lives and future of those living on the edge or fringes of society, where they feel powerless and isolated – the very conditions that can make them most susceptible to proposals to find power through violence.

Reflecting the views of many, Pope Francis said that "it is urgent that governments throughout the world commit themselves to developing an international framework capable of promoting a market of high impact investments, and thus to combating an economy which excludes and discards." Similarly, British prime minister David Cameron argues, "Social investment can be a great force for social change on the planet. It can help us to build bigger and stronger societies. That power is in our hands. And together we will use it to build a better future for ourselves, for our children and for generations to come."

These are grand statements by world leaders. But how does the rubber meet the road when it comes to countering radicalisation?

The instrumental link between social impact investing and countering radicalisation is person-to-person contact. Social investing that has impact requires personal and business relationships characterised by love and respect, not hate and intolerance. Accordingly, the need is for business people in partnership with faith volunteers to build personal relationships with those at risk of radicalisation. The involvement of interfaith teams (including humanists) is a critical component because countering religious hate can most effectively be done with "love of neighbour" as exemplified in the Good Samaritan (a foreigner with a foreign faith, by the way).

Here, neighbourly love is not an emotion but a practical commitment to help mentor those in need with individualised resources that help them provide for their own needs as well as those of their families and extended families. My Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is currently working with a team from faiths as diverse as Mormons and Muslims, Catholics and Humanists, Anglicans and Agnostics, to develop a toolkit for volunteers to use in a personalised way with the at-risk people they mentor. The toolkit will have resources that can be customised as needed to address six themes of a balanced life: education, health, employment, productivity and stewardship, household finances, and spiritual strength. 


The mentors will also be tasked with helping to identify sustainable investments that help promote integration and economic development in communities where people at risk of radicalisation live. The projects should adhere to several important criteria: (1) a high probability of a successful business venture; (2) applicability of the business model to other situations; (3) representation of different faith traditions; and (4) promoting productive collaboration between religious minorities and other segments of society.

When love of neighbour is accompanied by empowering social investment, integration and interfaith appreciation result. In the end, all this is good for business because, as the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby appositely notes, good business is about good relationships. This applies to neighbourhoods in cities and communities throughout Europe, as well as suffering populations in northern Iraq.

For ways to get involved with this initiative, contact the author who will be speaking on 3 February 2015 at the School of Management and Social Sciences, St. Mary's University, Twickenham, London (see details).

* The views expressed by this author remain solely their own and are not to be taken as the view of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

This commentary was first published on 2 February 2015 by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.