Bud Williams, city councilor in Springfield, Mass., stood in the court square earlier this week and participated in a holiday tradition.
“Jesus is the reason for the season,” Williams said at a Tuesday ceremony, according to MassLive.com.
His remarks wouldn’t really be notable, except that Williams was speaking at a menorah lighting ceremony, to mark the beginning of Hanukkah.
“I thought it added something to the service, it didn’t take away,” Williams, who is not Jewish, told MassLive.com on Tuesday night.
I’ll let reporter Conor Berry take it from here, because … uh, well, you’ll see:
The city councilor said he referenced Jesus Christ, whose birth is celebrated every Dec. 25 by Christians worldwide but not by Jews, after participants in the ceremony mentioned “the bright light” of 2,000 years ago — an allusion to Christ, according to Williams.
“They said it,” Williams said.
The councilor said his remark wasn’t meant as an expression of religious superiority or “dominance,” but rather as a simple reminder about the “reason for the season.”
“Jesus was Jewish,” Williams said. “To me, Jesus is the messiah … I thought I was being very positive.”
So! There’s that.
Anyway, as Boston.com points out, props to Williams for at least showing up, I guess. That’s not what happened in Plattsburgh, N.Y, where mayor James Calnon didn’t attend a local menorah lighting ceremony, according to reports.
“The question of what constitutes an endorsement of a religion is decided, as the Supreme Court has held, if it appears to a reasonable person that support is being given,” Calnon said in a statement, according to the Press-Republican. “As mayor, my presence at a religious event not a part of my normal life could give a reasonable person the impression that the event has the city’s endorsement.”
Williams told MassLive.com that a few local religious officials complimented his remarks. (“A couple of the rabbis walked up to me and said, ‘Great comments, Mr. Williams.'”)
A reporter also touched base with the mayor’s office, which let the councilor speak for himself.
This week, media reporter Jim Romenesko also noted that a local TV reporter wore a crucifixion T-shirt during an interview with a rabbi. “I was promoting a Christian rapper who had an event that night for families affected by incarceration,” the reporter tweeted. “No insult was intended.”