News Release

Finnish MEP AND EU Office Host Religious Freedom Seminar at European Parliament

On 18 October 2016, the European Union Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Mr Hannu Takkula MEP, in partnership with the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance, hosted a seminar in the European Parliament titled “The nexus between business and religious freedom.” The event was attended by representatives of the EU institutions, civil society, churches and religious organisations.

The speakers were Dr Brian J. Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, Dr Jeffrey Franks, Director of the IMF EU-Brussels and Paris Office, Professor W. Cole Durham, Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University and Mr Branislav Stanicek, Policy Adviser to Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside of the European Union.

During the conference, the panel explained how business and freedom of religion were linked and could reinforce each other. Mr Francesco Di Lillo, Head of the European Union Office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opened the event. He introduced the subject, the work of the Church with the EU institutions and its commitment to the promotion of religious freedom for all. Regrettably, freedom of religion and belief has been increasingly under attack in many parts of the world, as illustrated by various reports Mr Di Lillo highlighted.

Mr Takkula MEP, host and chair of the event, offered his thoughts on the important role the EU plays internationally in the promotion of religious freedom. As a member of the bureau of the FoRB Intergroup, he shared some of the goals set by this cross-party group of MEPs to elevate freedom of religion or belief in the EU agenda. Dr Grim explained that religion contributes yearly nearly US$1.3 trillion of socio economic value to the US economy. He also offered many examples of good practices by CEOs and businesses to improve their respective communities through religious based initiatives. Dr Franks supported Dr Grim on the correlation between religious freedom and economic power: on the one hand, wealthier societies naturally tend to look for more political freedoms; on the other, religious beliefs help foster good social and financial practices at the household level. Prof. Durham emphasised the added value faith-based organisations and businesses generate within the economy. Mr Stanićek spoke of the perspective of faith-inspired actors in business.

This event is the last in a series of initiatives the EU Office of the Church has carried out to promote and facilitate a dialogue among EU stakeholders on policies related to faith, family and religious freedom.

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