A powerful Syrian jihadist group with links to al-Qaeda has forced Christian leaders in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa to sign a contract of submission and enter into the medieval Islamic term as "dhimmis" in exchange for their protection.
The jihadist group—Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), which is mostly composed of foreign terrorists—is widely considered to be the most radical group fighting in the Syrian Civil War.
According to the document, which was posted on a Twitter account of a member of the ISIL, Christians in Raqqa were given the choices to convert to Islam, remain Christian, but submit to Islam, or face death. more >>
Israeli and American archaeologists have found what appear to be silver hoop earrings discovered from a biblical-era site in northern Israel and believed to have been used for trade before the invention of coins.
The earrings were found along with silver ingots in a jug in the ancient city of Abel Beth Maacah in Israel. Archaeologists date the jewelry as being 3,200 years old, before the invention of the minted coin. The silver earrings were wrapped tightly in dense plant fibers and placed in the jug, which was not hidden but rather found leaning against a wall, north to a massive structure that may have been a tower in the city that lies near Lebanon's border.
"We found it in a small jug leaning against a wall, apparently on a dirt floor," head researchers Robert Mullins, Nava Panitz-Cohen and Ruhama Bonfil told LiveScience via email. "It didn't seem to have been deliberately hidden in a niche or any other hidey-hole." more >>
The Syrian government is blaming the United States for creating a "negative climate" around the major U.N. peace talks in Geneva that ended in failure last week, as fighting in the war-torn country continues with no end in sight.
Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, said that the American government tried to "create a very negative climate for dialogue in Geneva," The Associated Press reported on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly insisted that the only way forward for the Middle Eastern country is if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad steps down, something which the leader has not given any indication that he is considering. Instead, the nearly three-year-old war between Assad's forces and rebel factions seeking to remove him from power continues. more >>
A group of Korean Christians are planning to build a "peace center" for a Christian community in Pakistan that was hit by a terrorist attack last year.
Last month, a delegation of Korean church leaders visited the Anglican Diocese of Peshawar at the request of Bishop Humphrey Peters. During the visitation, the delegation, which included Dr. Myoung Hyuk Kim, chairman of the Korean Evangelical Fellowship, and the Rev. Dong-Hwi Lee, senior pastor of the Tin Church, announced plans for a peace center.
Hundreds of worshipers are flocking to a small town in Israel where a Christian family claims to have found a statue of the Virgin Mary that spoke to them and weeps oil.
The family, Osama and Amira Khoury of Tarshiha, a small town near the Lebanon border, have allowed worshipers to view the statue that sits behind a glass partition in their apartment. Oil occasionally emerges from the Virgin Mary's eyes, and some parts of the statue appear to be covered in a shine even after oil is wiped away.
Amira Khoury has told media outlets that she recently found the statue "covered in oil," and that the small figure "spoke to her," telling her to not be afraid. A neighbor of the couple was the first to discover a small tear of oil dripping from the Virgin Mary's eye. Reportedly 2,000 curious worshipers have traveled to the couple's apartment to see the statue, and photos online show the couple engaging in prayer around the Virgin Mary, who is draped in rosary beads. more >>
While many Christians revere the Shroud of Turin to be the burial linen of Jesus Christ, a recent study conducted by scientists at a public university in Italy suggests that the cloth's unique image was created by neutron emissions from an earthquake that occurred around the time of Jesus' death.
Italian scientist Alberto Carpinteri led a group of scientists at the Politecnico di Torino University in Torino, Italy, in their study, recently publishing their findings in the journal Meccanica. In their abstract statement, Carpinteri and his colleagues suggest that neutron emissions from an earthquake caused the image on the shroud to look like Jesus' face.
The scientists also suggest that the emissions could have caused a change in the shroud's radiocarbon levels, therefore inaccurately dating it, as the shroud was once accused of being a forgery from the medieval times. more >>