Religion and G-20: With faith you can move mountains
The Group of 20 economic summit will bring together the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies in Rome later this month. Presidents, prime ministers, financial leaders and experts will come together to explore and solve the global problems facing the peoples of the world through the lens of the economy. The outlook is cloudy, however, as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on public health and private businesses and poverty rates continue to rise. Important conversations focused on the power of international trade could impact the lives of many.
Recently in Bologna, Italy, the annual G-20 Interfaith Forum brought together a host of religious leaders, government officials and experts from nonprofit organizations. Participants shared a range of viable and lasting solutions for the global economy that include anchors in faith. A participant myself, I believe that the economics of religious freedom can provide powerful solutions to countries stricken by poverty, global tragedies and human suffering.
Those of us involved in fields of all faiths believe that God sees people, especially those who suffer from natural or man-made disasters, not as liabilities to be managed but as assets to be developed, filled with ‘infinite individual worth and divine potential. When leaders at all levels of business, government and religion see this too, the focus shifts from managing programs to delivering results.
Rather than banishing religious organizations from the public arena or neglecting their potential influence, elected officials should create space for faith groups to thrive and contribute. Religious groups regularly bridge the gap between government and the people, where many individuals fall through the cracks of social safety nets.
When religion is free to flourish, believers everywhere perform simple, sometimes heroic acts of service. The answer to what plagues economies and societies does not lie in a bigger government or a bigger business, but in “bigger” citizens and communities – especially communities in which all faiths can be found. ‘flourish and contribute.
Religion encourages human beings to go beyond themselves and to serve, encourage, help and ennoble their neighbor. Governments cannot solve human ills; people solve human ills. One of the main values of religion and religious beliefs is that both tend to translate into more benevolence, more compassion, and more desire to alleviate human suffering.
Faith-based organizations can only inspire their people and offer these solutions if their religious freedoms are protected. The ancient Jewish phrase “tikkun olam,” meaning to mend or heal the world, is reflected in the efforts of so many religious traditions. Literacy classes, drinking water wells, field hospitals after earthquakes, food during famines, houses rebuilt after natural disasters, refugee aid, drug treatment programs – the list goes on, but the list of needs is too.
As people of faith do good, as Jesus taught, we contribute to the growth and stability of various countries. A 2016 Religious Freedom and Business Foundation (RFBF) study reported that “religion contributes nearly $ 1.2 trillion in socio-economic value to the US economy each year.” This socio-economic value, according to the founding president of the RFBF, Brian Grimm, “is tantamount to being the 15th national economy in the world. … That’s more than the annual revenues of the 10 biggest tech companies in the world, including Apple, Amazon and Google.
If this is the impact of faith in America, imagine what faith could do around the world.
That is why the protection of all faiths is essential.
Religious belief and practice are excellent predictors of service. Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Christian organizations provide essential relief and social services to millions of people. They do this for anyone.
In 2021 alone, church groups and other nonprofits partnered with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on projects in 160 countries. This includes significant contributions to COVAX, a global effort to deliver vaccines around the world. Latter-day Saints also pledged to provide more than 26 million meals to feed the hungry this year and, in 2020, completed 294 refugee projects in 50 countries, helping with shelter, health support and to the resettlement of refugees.
Pope FrancisPope Francis Biden to have audience with Pope and attend G20 summit Archbishop says Catholic troops should be able to reject vaccines on religious grounds The truth about COVID-19 vaccine exemptions PLUS, in his message to the G-20 Interfaith Forum, said: “Truly, the time for one-to-one alliances is over. The time has come to forge alliances in the search for shared solutions to the problems of all. “
I am okay. When we stand side by side, we can do more, lift more, and serve more.
G-20 political leaders seeking to boost international economies and opportunities for all people of the world should include religious leaders and organizations to find solutions to end poverty, foster upward mobility, heal human suffering and foster more vibrant and inclusive communities and countries.
Faith in a better economic outlook for the world begins with the recognition and adoption of the economy of faith in the world.
Ronald A. Rasband has been an elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a member of its Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the governing body of the Church, since 2015. He was previously a member of the Presidency of the Seventy of the Church. ‘Church, has served in numerous roles in the Church in the United States and Europe since the 1970s, and has served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Huntsman Chemical Corp. from 1987 to 1996.