The National Cathedral, which bills itself as a place where people of faith have joined in times of "celebration, crisis, and sorrow," will now charge tourists a $10 admission fee in order to plug a budgetary hole, according to The Washington Times
No one will have to pay to pray.
"All we are charging for is tourism essentially. We're not charging for the essential services of the cathedral," said the Rev. Gary Hall, the cathedral's dean.
Rob Sokol, director of strategic programs at the Cathedral, acknowledged that the "change in entry policy has the potential to generate bad press." But he said the new admission fee, scheduled to go into effect in January, is needed because tourism is down at the Cathedral and voluntary donations at the church's welcome desk have dropped off by at least a dollar per visitor.
Without the increase, the church will not be able to meet its budgetary demands, including repairing damages to the building from the August 2011 earthquake
. The repairs when completed will cost about $26 millions, the Times noted.
In an effort to meet its current budget, which does not include funding from the federal government, the Times said church officials have implemented a $1.7 million cut, imposing a freeze on hiring and taking other steps to save money. So far, no workers have been laid off.
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