There are many ways to celebrate a Hanukkah menorah lighting. Announcing that "Jesus is the reason for the season" is not one of them.
Bud Williams, a city councilor in Springfield, Massachusetts, found out the hard way when he spoke at the city's annual menorah lighting this week. Williams, a Baptist, told a crowd of Jewish community members and local leaders that "Jesus is the reason for the season."
After the speech, he only dug in deeper: "I thought it added something to the service, it didn't take away," he told MassLive, adding that some of the rabbis in attendance complimented him afterward.
"Jesus was Jewish," Williams continued. "To me, Jesus is the messiah. ... I thought I was being very positive."
The key phrase there, of course, is "to me." Jesus may be the messiah to him, but that's irrelevant when speaking at an important ceremony for a different religion. Two other speakers — Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno — managed to talk about the city's religious history without embarrassing themselves.
So if Williams is invited to speak again next year — and that's a big "if" — let's hope he leaves the proselytizing at home.