From The Associated Press, on Switzerland's recent ban on any new minarets:
GENEVA — The United Nations called Switzerland's ban on new minarets "clearly discriminatory" and deeply divisive, and the Swiss foreign minister acknowledged Tuesday the government was very concerned about how the vote would affect the country's image.
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said Sunday's referendum to outlaw the construction of minarets in Switzerland was the product of "anti-foreigner scare-mongering."
The criticism from Pillay, whose office is based in the Swiss city of Geneva, comes after an outcry from Muslim countries, Switzerland's European neighbors and human rights watchdogs since 57.5 percent of the Swiss population ratified the ban.
The Swiss government opposed the initiative but has sought to defend it as an action not against Islam or Muslims, but one aimed at improving integration and fighting extremism.
"These are extraordinary claims when the symbol of one religion is targeted," Pillay said in a statement. She said she was saddened to see xenophobic arguments gain such traction with Swiss voters despite their "long-standing support of fundamental human rights."
The referendum doesn't affect Switzerland's four existing minarets, or the ability of Muslims to practice their religion. It only bans the towers used to put out the Islamic call to prayer.
Let's change gears. This is from learned Islamic scholar Zakir Naik, probably the most popular Islamic theologian on our planet, on why it is understandable that non-Islamic religions are banned from constructing churches or synagogues in Muslim countries. (Spoiler alert: Islam is the only religion that gets it "right". Two plus two really does equal four.)
Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man to death for practicing witchcraft.
A man has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for witchcraft because he makes predictions on television.
Ali Sibat is not even a Saudi national.
The Lebanese citizen was only visiting Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage when he was arrested in Medina last year.
A court in the city condemned him as a witch on November 9.
The only evidence presented in court was reportedly the claim he appeared regularly on Lebanese satellite issuing general advice on life and making predictions about the future.
The case is causing outrage among human rights campaigners but has made little news elsewhere despite the ludicrous nature of the charges and the extraordinary severity of Sibat's sentence.
"Saudi courts are sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
"The crime of witchcraft is being used against all sorts of behavior, with the cruel threat of state sanctioned executions."
Ali Sibat's supporters say he was denied a lawyer at his trial and was tricked into making a confession.
He is not the only victim of Saudi Arabia's literal witch hunt. Human Rights Watch says two other people have been arrested on similar charges in the last month alone.
It claims a lower court in Jeddah started the trial of a Saudi this month who was arrested by the religious police and said to have smuggled a book of witchcraft into the kingdom.
In another case the religious police are said to have arrested for "sorcery" and "charlatanry" an Asian man accusing him of using supernatural powers to solve marital disputes and induce others to fall in love.
Let's wind things up with a post from Dr. Ralph, who reports on the continuing struggle against retailers who say "Holidays" instead of "Christmas":
I'm bracing myself for our latest holiday tradition, the bombastic pronouncements about the "War on Christmas."
For the past several years, self-anointed protectors of Christmas have been creating lists of which retailers are naughty or nice. This seems to boil down to who says "Holiday" in their advertising instead of "Christmas."
On the Naughty list have been such Satanic organizations as Sears, Wal-Mart, Target, The Gap, Banana Republic, Home Depot. This year's Naughty and Nice list has been helpfully compiled by the American Family Association of Tupelo, Mississippi.
You may recall the American Family Association, led by the Reverand Donald Wildmon, from their previous name, the National Federation for Decency. They reared their pointy little heads in 1977, when they campaigned against what they perceived as indecency on television. Interestingly they never seemed to care about violence, just sex.
It will come as no surprise that the AFA rails constantly against what they refer to as "the homosexual agenda." As is usually the case, they wrap their intolerance and hatred in religiosity.
Fighting immorality must be profitable: the AFA's annual budget is around $14 million. The Reverend Donald's son Tim is now President of the family business.
And a business it is, make no mistake.
In addition to their network of 28 radio stations (all Family Friendly!) they've expanded their Decency Empire to include news websites for the Christian point of view, support for home schoolers, a line of "Christian-focused" videos, estate planning, and Holy Land vacation tours.
They even hawk their very own AFA branded Internet Filter ("Use the trusted Family Filter the Wildmons use in their home!").
You can't make this shit up.
No, you can't make it up. All you can do is copy, paste, and lament. My religion is right, because it's the one I grew up with. Your religion is wrong, because it is so obviously silly. I can't defend my religion with anything other than appeals to brand loyalty. You can only defend yours with force.
But we're still going to hang, ban, or boycott each other because of these stories.
Like The Doctor said, you can't make this shit up.