- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
Pay to pray: National Cathedral to charge admission fee in 2014
Tourists visiting the District will have to dig a little deeper into their pockets if they plan to visit the Washington National Cathedral next year.
Beginning in January, the cathedral will charge a $10 admission fee in response to a looming deficit. Children and seniors will pay $6.
Rob Sokol, the cathedral’s director of strategic programs, wrote in a memo to staffers that visitor traffic has been trending down slightly compared to last year. The average donation at the welcome desk was also down by nearly 25 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2014, from about $4.15 per person to about $3.15 per person.
The Rev. Gary Hall, the cathedral’s dean, told The Associated Press that the decision to charge a fee was made reluctantly. But he noted that the cathedrals of Europe charge fees to help pay for upkeep.
“All we are charging for is tourism essentially,” Mr. Hall said. “We’re not charging for the essential services of the cathedral.”
Some in the cathedral’s congregation, though, have been vocal in opposing the move, Mr. Hall said. “Nobody is excited, but most people understand it.”
The church needs to generate more revenue to avoid budget deficits and to focus on raising money to fix damage from the August 2011 earthquake, Mr. Hall said. So far, the church has collected about $7 million of the for $26 million needed for repairs.
Mr. Hall told the AP that the church has cut $1.7 million from its budget through a hiring freeze, attrition, changes in vendors and a salary freeze for higher-paid employees since last year. No staff members were laid off, he said.
Mr. Sokol acknowledged that the admission fee could invoke negative reactions but insisted that it was necessary to create revenue.
“This change in entry policy has the potential to generate bad press. We will need a communication strategy to mitigate any voiced opposition raised by local constituencies,” he said. “Those already upset — mainly neighbors, clergy, and congregation members — with the installation of a suggested donation request at the door in 2011 may be even more upset when it is changed to a fixed admission.”
One disgruntled reader commented on a report on the admission charges that appeared on the blog “Anglican Ink,” saying, “Well, scratch that National Cathedral visit off the to-do list.”
Another reader commented that the new admission fee was simply too expensive saying, “Perhaps, if average giving is about $3, they should suggest $4 or $5 donation but $10? That is highway robbery!”
A task force was assembled in September to identify all possible revenue-generating strategies for the upcoming fiscal year. Cathedral staff found that by charging a $10 admission fee they could expect an additional $150,000 in fiscal 2014 and $300,000 in fiscal 2015, factoring in a 10 percent decrease in traffic.
The cathedral would also offer a $25 family discounted admission fee, including a one-year National Cathedral Association membership. Entrance to the cathedral will be free on Sundays and for all worshippers.
“We need to grow in certain areas that we don’t have the resources to do so right now,” Mr. Hall said. “If we just keep cutting and cutting and cutting … we’ll just be kind of a shrinking institution.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- EDITORIAL: More Lerner smoking-gun emails at IRS
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Harry Reid blasts Bundy ranch supporters as 'domestic terrorists'
- 'Deport Bieber' petition draws no comment from White House
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.