Religions that discourage visitors.

Here in the US, LDS(Mormon) churches have a sign out front saying “Visitors Welcome”, perhaps in response to awareness that visitors are generally not permitted in their temples, which are separate and distinct from local church buildings. I have seen this type of sign elsewhere as well, perhaps indicating that they are afraid that outsiders will see their church as an insular community that does not want to be disturbed and is not open to outsiders.

What are some faiths that discourage nonbelievers or outsiders from attending basic services?

I have attended a conservative Mennonite service where I was the only person not in conservative Mennonite/Amish garb, but I was not made to feel unwelcome, though I actually knew one of the members socially already and thus wasn’t truly alone.

Note that I’m talking about attending services, not about converting. I know that there are several faiths that discourage people from converting to them and/or make the process very involved in order to test one’s patience, but are there any faiths that will either explicitly ban visitors from attending ordinary weekly services in general (e.g. by posting signs saying “<religion>ites only, no visitors”, placing bouncers at the door, or by calling police to have visitors arrested as trespassers), or implicitly ban or discourage them by making them feel uncomfortable?

Occasionally religions may require tickets to attend services on special occasions or their most holy days when everyone who doesn’t come the other 364 days of the year suddenly wants to attend.

A number of Christian churches including Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox don’t keep outsiders from attending services but will not allow them to receive communion, which is a major part of the service:

Parsi Fire temples (Zoroastrian) temples in Bombay and Gujarat do not allow visitors and you can’t convert to Zoroastrianism, you have to be born into it of two Zoroastrian parents.

Yes their numbers are seriously dwindling as you’d expect.

Contrary to US Christian practice many, if not most, non-US centric faiths are not all that interested in or focused on bringing in and accommodating or converting those not of the faith. While some view this as unfriendly others view the American fetish to proselytize their faith as something kind of distasteful.

This is just a bizarre statement and blatantly untrue. The Roman Catholic church actively converts (and does pretty well at it, check the growth rates of the Catholic Church in Africa especially) in Africa and South America and many other countries.

(Hint, the Roman Catholic Church is NOT a US-centric faith).

And Islamic communities actively make efforts to convert entire non-muslim populations in India and in Indonesia and in many other countries.

I don’t think you’d be welcome at an Exclusive Brethren service. They have high fences around many of their churches and their gates are padlocked.

Wow - all these years I thought Garrison Keillor was making up the Brethren. Live and learn, I guess.

I don’t know who Garrison Keillor is but we have Exclusive Brethren not far from where I live and they definitely live up to their name.

Here is Oz I have come across the Exclusive Brethren. Big high fences, blacked out window and large no trespassing signs.
But then they have blokes standing on street corners yelling out the usual repent or be damned. Will not speak to anyone that approaches.

“Will not allow” is a stretch. More like, will expect those who do not believe in Communion as a Sacrament to refrain from partaking in it. It’s not like there’s someone asking the people in line for their baptismal certificates.

This certainly does happen at Jewish synagogues, but the motivation behind it is purely for lack of space, and a need to ration the limited space which is available. There are also economic motivations involved, a feeling that the 1/365-ers impose a disproportionate strain on the budget.

These considerations are very different than any sort of exclusionary belief, which I think is what the OP was asking about. A better (but imperfect) comparison would be to an invitation-only wedding or funeral of a famous person, where the general public feels a closeness and a desire to attend, but those in charge decreed “invitation only” for purely practical reasons, because of expectations that those who are truly close would already fill up the place.

I always heard that the Yazidi were fairly closed to outsiders.

The Druze are another religious group which is closed to conversion (one can only be a Druze by birth), and very secretive. They majority of secular Druze (Juhhal) are not allowed access to the holy literature, or allowed into a portion of their services reserved to an inner elite (Uqqal). I don’t know what their attitude to non-Druze attending the portion of the services open to Juhhal is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was discouraged or perhaps forbidden. They hold services in inconspicous buildings, and adapt many of the outward trappings of the local religions, behaving largely as Muslims around Muslims, and Christians around Christians.

Much of this evolved in order to protect themselves during points in their history when they were heavily persecuted. Persecuted religions may discourage outsiders simply from the standpoint of safety, and it can become codified into their practice.

Judaism is not a proselytising religion and, while it’s not impossible to become a Jew, it’s not something that is made easy. You have to study a lot, etc.

What about Jehovah’s Witnesses? Can you just walk into a Kingdom Hall?

Yes but most synagogues are open to visitors and would allow non-jews to attend shabbat services wouldn’t they?

Wow. I’d never heard of them before. Reading the wikipedia page gives the impression that they spend all their time breaking ranks with each other.

bleedin’ splitists!

Question - if a church claims tax exempt status, does that come with any requirements regarding them to be open to the public any way?

I’m not exactly certain, but I remember reading that the Church of Scientology has had trouble maintaining or establishing tax exempt status because it charges fixed fees for certain services.