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.
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 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 boatNegative 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 Mormon (LDS) missionaries in Samoa
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.
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
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.”
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. STAY UP TO DATE: Weekly Number Newsletter
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
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
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.
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."
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 conclusion
was 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.
Costs of War Project; Household est. tWN
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 urgently be done. The January 2015 attacks in Paris
carried out by individuals 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, does this indicate a new and perhaps even more costly phase of the war on terror is beginning? Time will tell.
What is becoming clear, however, is the economic cost of terrorism. Beyond the destruction of property and the incalculable value of the hundreds of thousands of lost lives, data show that the economic and military costs are far out of proportion to the amount spent by the terrorists to wreak havoc.
For instance, a report
on the broader impact of terrorism on financial stability by the Coordinator of the United Nations Taliban and Al-Qaida Monitoring Team, Richard Barrett, notes that the British Government estimates that the July 2005 attack on the London transport which killed 52 cost the terrorists around $15,000 compared with an estimated $750,000,000 loss in tourist revenues.
A similar gap is seen in the broader war on terror. In 2011, the New York Times
surveyed various cost estimates and concluded that the U.S. war response to the approximately half a million dollars spent by Al Qaeda to attack New York and Washington added up to some $3.3 trillion, or about $7 million for every dollar spent by Al Qaeda.
A new study by the Cost of War Project
at Brown University* estimates that the US federal price tag for the Iraq war — including an estimate for veterans' medical and disability costs into the future — is about $4.4 trillion dollars. The study argues that many of the wars’ costs are not readily apparent, spread across various budgets, and therefore have not been fully counted or assessed. For example, while most people think the Pentagon war appropriations are equivalent to the wars’ budgetary costs, the study estimates that the true numbers are twice that, and the full economic cost of the wars much larger yet (see chart below).
Costs of War Project, http://www.costsofwar.org/
* First released in 2011, the Costs of War report
has been compiled and updated by more than 30 economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists as the first comprehensive analysis of over a decade of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. The Costs of War Project analyzes the implications of these wars in terms of human casualties, economic costs, and civil liberties. The Costs of War Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, scholarly initiative based at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies.
Employees who openly discuss their religious beliefs at work are often happier and have higher job satisfaction than those employees who do not. This is according to a new cross-cultural study
* of nearly 600 working adults from a variety of industries — including education and finance — in the U.S. and South Korea.
The researchers concluded
: "It is important for managers to consider the work environment and cultural context in its openness to a diversity of religious expression, as it can have an effect on work attitudes and outcomes. Managers should try to foster tolerant environments in which their employees feel that they can affirm their religion at work...."
"For many people, religion is the core of their lives," researcher Sooyeol Kim said
. "Being able to express important aspects of one's life can influence work-related issues, such as job satisfaction, work performance or engagement. It can be beneficial for organizations to have a climate that is welcoming to every religion and culture."
An important limitation of the study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior
, however, was that it only looked at Christian employees. Further research needs to be done to study other faiths, and especially whether those unaffiliated with a religion have positive or negative attitudes toward speaking about their beliefs.
Still, for those with beliefs, "disclosing your religion can be beneficial for employees and individual well-being," Kim said
. "When you try to hide your identity, you have to pretend or you have to lie to others, which can be stressful and negatively impact how you build relationships with co-workers."
Kim said there are several ways employees can share their religion in the workplace. Employees might decorate their desk with a religious object, such as a cross or a calendar. They also may share stories or information about their religious beliefs during conversation, such as describing a church-related event.
Kim said the research on religion in the workplace plays a part into work-life balance. Research continues to show that individual characteristics — such as family and religion — can influence work-related issues.
"People can bring nonworking issues into the workplace or they may bring a work issue into their nonworking domain," Kim said
. "Now days that boundary is blurred and there are less clear distinctions between work and personal life."
* Applying models of employee identity management across cultures: Christianity in the USA and South Korea
by co-authors on the study include Brent Lyons, assistant professor of management and organization studies at Simon Fraser University; Jennifer Wessel, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Maryland; Sonia Ghumman, assistant professor of management at the University of Hawaii, Manoa; and Ann Marie Ryan, professor of psychology at Michigan State University, and Sooyeol Kim of Kansas State University.
NEW STUDY: The ongoing growth of Christianity and the growth of China’s economy may be related, according to a new study in the China Economic Review by Qunyong Wang (Institute of Statistics and Econometrics, Nankai University, Tianjin) and Xinyu Lin (Renmin University of China, Beijing). Brian Grim China
What has fueled China’s remarkable economic growth that has lifted more than 500 million people out of abject poverty and positioned it to become the world’s largest economy?
In part, it’s been fueled by the pipeline of market mechanisms, modern technology and Western management practices that former paramount leader Deng Xioaping untapped in the 1980s.
But according to Yukong Zhao
, a China expert at Siemens Corporation, these explanations are insufficient given the potential drags on the economy from government inefficiency and corruption, which President Xi Jinping is struggling to contain.
Zhao argues that Western learning and pro-growth government policies have set loose the real creators of China’s economic success—its people and the largely Confucian culture that makes them, in his words, “ambitious, hardworking, thrifty, caring for their families and relentlessly pursuing good education and success.”Continue reading the entire article at First Things ...
The positive contributions
of religious freedom to society generated significantly greater interest than the problems
of religious freedom, based on analysis of social media engagement in 2014.
Click image to to get the details
on this holiday edition co-published with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.
Talk of the U.S. pivot to Asia has been overshadowed by the rise of new perpetrators of terror. Al Qaeda has been eclipsed by a new brand of jihadist groups such as the 'Islamic State’ seeking to build a Caliphate across the Middle East and Boko Haram doing the same in western Africa. New data show the extent of the violence being inflicted by such groups.
While most deaths occur in a hand full of countries, the specter of Lone-wolf attacks
, as the one unfolding in Sydney
shows, affect countries far outside the region. With recent "Lone Wolf" attacks in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., the terror is brought very close to home.
New research carried out by the BBC World Service, BBC Monitoring, and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) produced a global snapshot of this rising tide of terror by recording all the reported deaths that were caused by jihadist groups and networks during the month of November 2014.
The study found that jihadists killed 5,042 people in 664 attacks during the month. The Islamic State conflict in Syria and Iraq accounted for the largest share of deaths, though attacks in 12 other countries claimed thousands as well. This includes nearly 800 deaths in Nigeria and another 800 in Afghanistan, plus hundreds in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.
In light of the apparent lack of success in combatting the rise of global terror using hard power alone, and the economic consequences of the deteriorating situation of religious freedom worldwide, a new editorial argues that positively encouraging countries
to protect international religious freedom ideals will bear more fruit than using the default tool - a hammer.
Research finds that laws and practices burdening religion are related to higher levels of corruption.
This is borne out by simple comparison between the Pew Research Center’s 2012 Government Restrictions on Religion Index
with the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index
. Nine of the ten most corrupt countries have high or very high governmental restrictions on religious liberty, including North Korea, which Pew does not have enough data to rate but considers one of the most religiously restrictive countries.
Religious freedom also implies that business people can draw on religious values and moral teachings in their businesses. The attempt to force businesses to act as entirely secular organizations may be one contributing factor to the corruption, greed and shortsighted decisions that led to the global economic collapse of 2008 and still affects many people and nations today. Allowing religion to inform business ethnics
certainly is an aspect of religious freedom.