It is one of those intuitive things that make a lot of sense in retrospect.
Most recently, a colleague suggested it would most likely be possible to gain free admission into most religious sites by telling the ticket office you are coming to pray as a member of the faith instead of as a tourist.
Out of curiosity, our team tried this at Canterbury Cathedral, with success.
On religious grounds, it makes sense that holy sites aren’t able to turn away members of the faith.
From a travel standpoint, this might be going into our repertoire right behind the museum alliance pass. Museums, religious sites, what’s next?
Even Christian blogger Scott Gunn has posted about this:
I’ve traveled around the world a fair amount, and it’s pretty common to pay entry fees for religious sites. I’ve paid to visit Hindu temples in India and Shinto shrines in Japan. I’ve also paid to be a tourist at Christian sites in several countries. Anglicans will probably already know that you have to pay for tourist access to Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. I believe it’s also the case that in every single one of the examples I cited, access for prayer is free and open.
Is it sketchy? Or smart? Personally, from experience, most religious sites that are able to charge admission are often worth contemplation in their own right.
By the way, we’re not here to discuss the morality of this, though there is the irony of it all. In our minds, there is no harm in also taking a moment to reflect and meditate once you’re there.
After all, isn’t that pretty much another form of prayer?
Besides, it is not exactly a secret. Most tourist often don’t take the time to read the fine print in an effort to tick everything off their list.
Here’s a quick list of religious sites that even have this mentioned on their website, as plain as night and day.
If you wish to enter the Abbey to spend a moment in private prayer, please use the Great West Door entrance to the Abbey. We do not charge for private prayer at Westminster Abbey.
Normal cost £23
The Cathedral is open every day for early morning prayers and closes after evening prayers. No charges are made for those who come to join our worship or who wish to pray privately and everyone is welcome.
Normal cost £9.50
Even Stonehenge reputedly offers free admission, that is if you can swing the English pagan thing. 🤷♀️
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