This post is a bit different than my usual posts. I started to write this as a pros and cons list and then concluding my opinion, but as I began to do some research and dug deeper into my own opinions, I realized it wasn’t so cut and dry. Should there be entrance fees to religious sites? I want to know your opinion. I am still going to give my opinion on paying entrances fees, but I also want to hear your thoughts!
For many religious sites, this is a way to pay for needed conservation and repairs. This is important so that we can all continue to enjoy the site and so future generations can see it as well.
It also helps with safety. Religious sites can pay for staff to be there during opening hours. Unfortunately, we live in a time where some people would vandalize a church or a mosque. Having staff be present would deter this and allows the site to be open more than just during worship times. It also protects the worshiper to have staff present.
Visitors numbers can help an organization receive grant money to do things that are even beyond what the entrance fee would cover. It gives some proof that the site needs money to maintain the site so visitors will come.
Admittedly some religious sites are just charging an entrance fee to pay the electric bills, but it is still a valid reason to pay.
It discourages people from wanting to pray there. It is hard to know if you can go in to pray without paying the free. Many places have signs saying this, but they haven’t always been easy to see. Many time you still have to wait in the ticket line to get in to pray.
If the fee is very high, I can’t go into every church as all those fees add up. Most of us have a budget to stick to and want to see as much as our budget allows. If I am paying $10 a church or mosque, I am going to run out of budget quickly.
The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is what sparked this discussion with myself. The entrance fee is €15. This does not include anything like an audio tour or entrance to the top. Many of you know there are hundreds of people trying to get into this church every day. The fee seems high considering how many people are paying to get in. Of course, they are also paying lots of staff. But I also wonder if the continuous building, that we may be financing, is a cycle of attracting visitors and having them pay. If it was in the US, I could probably find out the details of the financing, but I can only speculate here.
A few churches in Porto had free entry to the church and then you had to pay to get into a special part of the church, like a tower. I feel this is a great way to balance the need to raise money and still allow people access to the church.
If a religious site is paying for conservation and staff with the fee I don’t have an issue with it. When the fee becomes high and is unclear what they are using it for, I get wary. I also realize that there is no clear-cut answer to this question.
What do you think? Are you happy to pay the fee? Is there a limit to how much you will pay?