- (Photo: WPTV TV/NewsChannel 5 video screencap)
A Baptist pastor has been criticized by some in the Jewish community for putting up a sign at his church in North Palm Beach, Fla., that reads: "Christmas – easier to spell than Hanukkah." It has since been taken down.
Pastor Mike Butzberger of Lighthouse Baptist Church said, according to WPTV TV/NewsChannel 5, that he has been putting up a different slogan in front of his church every week for 15 years, aiming for something "encouraging, inspiring, informative and occasionally for the purpose of making them smile."
He revealed, however, that some did not take well to what was supposed to be a humorous message, and had asked for the sign to be taken down.
"Everybody out shopping for Hanukkah and Christmas, I heard someone say 'Christmas easier to spell than Hanukkah,' it made me smile," Butzberger said about where he got the idea.
Rabbi Alon Levkovitz from Beth Temple AM said that the sign is "not really offensive, just poor taste."
"I think it's the wrong message to send to their members, but as a Jew I am not offended," the rabbi commented. "If the church tries to celebrate one of the most important holidays by putting down another faith it's definitely not the spirit of Hanukkah or Christmas."
Butzberger argued that in today's politically correct climate "people are literally searching for excuses to be offended and outraged."
The Baptist pastor said that he took the sign down because he didn't want to offend anyone, but added that his congregation should not have to change their signs because some may find them offensive.
Butzberger has served at Lighthouse Baptist Church since November 1999, and has a Doctor of Ministry degree, according to the church's website – the title of his dissertation was "Humor as a Communication Tool in Preaching." The pastor is also an Adjunct Professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where he teaches courses in Homiletics (Preaching); he is married and has a young son.
Readers had a mixed response to the story in the comments section of the article, with one user writing that they agree with the rabbi: "It's bad taste. If I drove by a temple and it said, 'Hanukkah has 7 more nights of presents than Christmas!' I would be annoyed that children like my Godson would be confused about what they believe. Some jokes are funny among friends, not for public view."
Others, however, said that the Baptist pastor had the right to display the sign.
"Pastor Mike is right," the user wrote. "We are too worried about being PC we forget the message."