Pharyngula

Catholic taxonomy

The peculiarities of dietary restrictions by the religious are always entertaining. Catholics have their own weird practices: here’s a bit of strange information from a Catholic agony aunt forum.

Do alligators count as fish?
As a Catholic who observes the custom of abstaining from meat on Fridays, I would like to know if alligator would be considered meat or fish. Recently, on a Friday, I was in a local restaurant where I was sharing a dinner of alligator. I thought upon this, and decided, as a reptile, alligator would fall into the fish category. I hope I’m not sounding too scrupulous, but if it is considered meat, I will avoid it on Fridays in the future.

Uh-oh. This woman made a judgment on Catholic theology without consulting a priest. Doesn’t she know she could be getting an eternity in hell for her plate full of alligator? Fortunately, it turns out that going meatless still allows one to eat all the reptiles, amphibians, and insects you might want.

An alligator is certainly not a fish, and it certainly does have meat. But the custom of abstaining from meat on Fridays is abstinence from the flesh of mammals and birds. Fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects, etc., are exempt from this. Since an alligator is a reptile, those who abstain from meat on Fridays are free to eat alligator if they wish.

Why?

Does anybody ever just ask why these strange eating habits are a part of the doctrine? Does god like birds and mammals so much that he doesn’t want you to eat them on one day? Would he really be that pissed if you had a cheeseburger on Friday?