UPDATE: “Jesus Saves” billboard changed to advertisement for fish fry in time for Lent

Back on February 21st, I posted about the mammoth “Jesus Saves” billboard (photo left) that sat along Route 490, the busiest interstate highway in Greater Rochester, New York. See the post here.

While I was driving to work two weeks ago, I noticed that the billboard had been changed. What new advertisement had gone up in place of “Jesus Saves”? I’ll give you a clue: Rochester has a large Catholic population and Lent began last week. That’s right, a new billboard went up advertising local fast-food restaurant chain, Bill Grays, and its self-proclaimed “Rochester’s Best Fish Fry” (photo right).

Fish fries on Fridays are hugely popular here in Rochester because of the large Catholic population. Prior to 1966, Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays throughout the entire year under threat of soul-damning mortal sin. But after 1966, the obligatory abstention was lifted by the U.S. Catholic bishops EXCEPT for Fridays during Lent. For more historical background, see my post on the subject here.

Isn’t it quite ironic that a billboard proclaiming that “Jesus Saves” with a reference to John 3:16 is followed by an advertisement seeking to profit off of Catholic legalism? It reminds me of how the simple Gospel of the early church was gradually institutionalized into sacramental ritualism and legalism.

Postscript: I had taken the photo of the “Jesus Saves” billboard one-handed with my iPhone through the windshield as I was driving my car at 60 mph. Very dumb. For the photo of the Bill Gray’s fish fry billboard, I exited the expressway, drove through the city neighborhood to as close to the billboard as possible, parked the car and took the photo. Much safer that way and much better quality.

Capture14
A photo of Bill Gray’s fish fry plate, which includes a piece of fried haddock, french fries, a roll, and cole slaw for $13.69. Haddock ain’t cheap, folks.
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11 thoughts on “UPDATE: “Jesus Saves” billboard changed to advertisement for fish fry in time for Lent

  1. Ugh, I know this is a very serious theological post but there’s no good friend catfish where we are and I miss it! The picture just made it worse. When we lived by the Red River, the border between Texas and Oklahoma, there was fresh caught catfish served just about everywhere!
    That being said, I’m sad to see the legalism so clearly pushed during Lent. I still don’t understand how an infallible rule punishable by Hell can be changed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t know if I’ve ever had catfish, sister! I grew up on whitefish out of Lake Ontario but pollution levels in the lake put an end to that. Haddock from the Atlantic is the go-to fish up here for fish fries.

      Yes, the no-meat-on-Friday rule change back in 1966 should have given every conscious Catholic pause. Even a child would question the reasonableness of it (and we did). Actually, I think a lot of Catholics did leave the church over this and the other changes following Vatican II.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks , Wally. I was saying that whitefish from Lake Ontario was the go-to fish up here until the lake was deemed too polluted. That was a big fish! Two pieces used to feed our family of eight. Real good and meaty. What you see in the photo is haddock which is the go-to up here for a fish fry. Kinda small and thin compared to whitefish. Never had catfish. Not popular up here. I was going to break your chops and ask why you enjoy eating a bottom feeder but google says haddock is a bottom feeder also. 😟

      Liked by 1 person

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