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 Thursday, 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 Thursday, 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. more >>
Religious leaders who align themselves with the Occupy Wall Street crowd should not make claims that the nationwide uprisings have anything to do with Christianity, says the president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy.
Mark Tooley, whose advocacy group works toward reaffirming the church’s biblical and historical teachings, said in a statement from IRD that the “Religious Left” has heaped too much praise on those whose “demands range from cancellation of all debt, open borders, government control of health care and free college education, among other expansions of Big Government.”
Tooley aims his argument at leaders such as Sojourners’ Jim Wallis, who Tooley said “has lavished praise during a visit to the occupiers.” more >>
California’s Jewish and Muslim communities celebrated Monday after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new state law the day before affirming the legality of male circumcision.
The practice, which dates back to time of Abraham, according to the Bible, was under attack by such California cities as San Francisco and Santa Monica, which sought to ban circumcisions for males younger than 18 years of age.
Both Jewish and Muslim leaders in the Golden State said that the proposed bans on circumcision were a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee that neither the federal government, nor state or local governments could impose laws restricting the free exercise of religion. more >>
President Barack Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York Wednesday morning, saying that there is no short cut to peace in the Middle East.
"I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades," said Obama. "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N. If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.
"Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.” more >>
The organizers of Park51, an Islamic community center and mosque that is being constructed near New York City's ground zero, announced that its first public event will be held on Wednesday.
The NYChildren photo exhibition will serve as an “inaugural event” in their newly remodeled community space on Park Place. The rest of the Park51 building, dubbed the "ground zero mosque" by those critical of the property, is still undergoing renovations.
Park51, which will include a mosque, health club, and theater, is still years away from being completed. more >>
In the 10 years since the 9/11 tragedy, Americans and churches across the United States are more prone to consider partnering with faiths and denominations other than their own for social outreach events, said a Hartford Seminary professor, who is leading a religious study program on interfaith cooperation.
David A. Roozen, director of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership and professor of religion and society, remarked, “Americans' awareness of our country's religious diversity has increased dramatically in the last decade.”
Although the study he helped conduct does not show a dramatic increase in congregations partnering together in the context of a worship service, it does show an increase in interfaith activities such as public ceremonies and panel discussions, Roozen told The Christian Post. more >>