Saudi King Abdullah's Interfaith Center in Vienna to Unify the World's Religions? [Excerpts]
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been planning for years to find a way to unite the world's major religions in an effort to help foster peace, and believes a new international organization to be housed in Vienna, Austria will help make that dream a reality. As the institution was officially founded [October 14, 2011], some Christians are likely to start pointing to interpretations of biblical prophecy about the emergence of a one-world religion many believe precedes the return of Jesus Christ.
According to media reports, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Austrian Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger and Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez Garcia-Herrera oversaw the signing of a contract between the three nations...in which they will cooperate in the building and organization of an interfaith center in Vienna. Other high level officials from the three nations were also reportedly in attendance at the treaty signing.
The building, to be called the "King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue," was conceived of by its namesake and mostly financed by the Saudi government. According to media reports the center will be composed of a governing body of 12 representatives, among that number will be representatives from Islam (one each Sunni and Shiite), Christians (one each Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox), a Buddhist, a Hindu and a Jewish representative.
There will also be a consulting body with 100 representatives from various faiths, as well as "academics and members of civil society," Deutsche Welle news agency reports.
"The thesis is valid that world peace cannot exist without peace between the world's major religions," Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said during the signing ceremony in Vienna, according to Deutsche Welle.
The news agency also reports that Spindelegger said the organization's structure has been designed to make sure no single faith has the upper hand and that politics would have no part in the center's government. Garcia-Herrera also noted that membership would be made available to other nations.
The religious center will be located at Schottenring in Vienna, according to the Austrian Independent. Dutch news paper Die Presse reports that the project will cost millions of dollars.
(Menzie, "Saudi King Abdullah's Interfaith Center in Vienna to Unify the World's Religions?," Christian Post, 10/17/11).