How protecting religious freedom could boost the economy is the unusual but central theme of a three-day conference being hosted by Griffith University in the immediate wake of the G20 Leaders Summit.

The G20 Interfaith Summit ison the Gold Coast until Tuesday, with international dialogue around economic development, religious freedom and social cohesion at its core.

Leading religious commentators from Australia and overseas are attendingthe forum, which is supported by the Queensland Government, and the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies.

Among the delegates are Dr Brian Grim, a world-respected expert on religious freedom and business. Others include Dr W Cole Durham, managing editor of the Harvard Law Journal, RMIT’s Professor Des Cahill, renowned advocate for multiculturalism and the promotion of respect between religious communities, and the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson.

Other notable speakers include Dr Rachael Kohn, ABC Radio National, and Dr Ram Cnaan, a world-renowned expert in the study of faith-based social services.

A specially-convened interfaith panel from the United Arab Emirates will consider the extent and impact of religious freedom in the Middle East.

The Director of Griffith’s Centre for Interfaith & Cultural Dialogue, Dr Brian Adams, believes the Interfaith Summit will provide context for many issues raised at the G20 Leaders Summit.

“Religion is often misunderstood or overlooked as a factor around world events but it has a major role to play from medical ethics to cross-border conflicts to macroeconomics,” he said.

“Our aim is to improve the understanding of faith-based perspectives and how they impact on communities, ultimately in relation to macroeconomic, transnational decisions made by world leaders.

“We expect the event to make a productive contribution to economic debate in the immediate wake of the G20 summit.”

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