Dr. Mike Butzberger, pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church in North Palm Beach, Florida, ran into complaints after he posted what he thought was a humorous message on the church’s outdoor sign. It read, “CHRISTMAS – EASIER TO SPELL THAN HANUKKAH.”Not long after the sign went up, Pastor Butzberger was fielding calls questioning the intent behind the sign and others who were offended by the message.It was overwhelming to the pastor who told The Palm Beach Post, “I thought to myself oh my goodness. This is just crazy nuts,” adding, “It was not in any way shape or form meant to be offensive or disparaging or mean spirited.”
Dr. Butzberger said the sign is used to spread messages that are inspiring, encouraging, informative or just something that will make people smile. He explained to WPTV NewsChannel 5 what prompted the message in question, "Everybody’s out shopping for Hanukkah and shopping for Christmas. At some point either the thought had come to me, I had seen or read, heard somebody say 'Christmas easier to spell than Hanukkah,' and it made me smile.”
According to the Lighthouse Baptist Church’s website, pastor Butzberger has a Doctor of Ministry degree and the title of his dissertation was “Humor as a Communication Tool in Preaching.” But he recognizes that what is humorous to him, may not be to others saying, "We live in such a politically correct climate, hyper politically correct, that people are literally searching for excuses to be offended and to be outraged."
Local rabbi’s were asked what they thought of the church’s message. Rabbi Alon Levkovitz from Beth Temple AM was not offended by the message, but also thought that it wasn’t the right one for the pastor to send to members. "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 nor Christmas," said rabbi Levkovitz.
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui of Chabad House Lubavitch in Palm Beach questioned the message’s intent hoping it wasn’t meant negatively but thought, “It’s clearly an insensitive message.”
A day after receiving the complaints, the pastor changed the message in rainy weather to “JESUS LOVES YOU.” As the Palm Beach Post reports it was something he chose because of ease and the low character count.