Religions that discourage visitors.

Absolutely not, as that would run seriously afoul of the Free Exercise Clause. To the extent that the government provides any special status to any particular religion or religious group, it cannot restrict that based on the content of religious practices.

Think of it this way: your local orchestra is probably a tax-exempt nonprofit, but they don’t have to let you watch them rehearse.

I’m an open atheist and have been to a Jehovah’s Witness service as the guest of one of the Witnesses.

Isn’t it also because the scriptures forbid handling money on the Sabbath or other holy days? That makes it impossible to collect money at services like other religions, so one of the ways money is raised is by selling tickets to high demand services before the holy day. Plus, almost all synagogues have reduced or even free tickets if the worshiper is in a major financial bind.

There are certain Hindu shrines that you are not allowed to enter if you’re not a Hindu. As a general rule though, I don’t think they have anything against visitors. This may have something to do with the fact that there aren’t that many (or any) general rules in Hinduism.
Also, since this topic is being touched upon in the thread, as far as I’m aware, you cannot convert to Hinduism. You’re either born one or you’re not. The ‘no general rules’ caveat applies though. I’m sure there are plenty of cults/sects that you can be a part of which leave you pretty much indistinguishable from Hindus who’re born Hindu. Wait. Now I’m confused.

Any other dopers care to weigh in on the issue of conversion to Hinduism?

ETA: If it doesn’t count as a hijack of course. I’ll be happy to open another thread if the OP prefers it.

That’s the rational behind temple memberships, and it’s seperate from the tickets to High Holy Day services.

But there’s also no admission fee for weekday services, when money-handling is allowed. Many synagogues will pass around a charity box during such services, but donations are not required.

Very true.

Happy to help on this one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_conversion#Hinduism

The important bits underlined, as what you mentioned mainly focused on the first few sentences quoted:


Hinduism does not advocate conversion and has no ritual of conversion. When a person becomes Hindu is ill defined as Hinduism never saw other faiths as rivals. A few Hindus hold that ‘to be a Hindu, one should be born a Hindu’ and ‘if born a Hindu, one is a Hindu forever’;[31][32][33] however, Indian law approves anyone declaring to be a Hindu as Hindu. According to Hinduism, there is one universal truth (ignorance of this truth or Brahman is the cause of grief and souls are caught in the eternal cycle of rebirth until realization), and there are multiple paths—including as followed by other philosophies—to “reach” the truth. The Sanskrit word for religion “Marga” literally means path. The mere notion of conversion is an oxymoron because the Hindu texts Vedas and Upanishads conceive whole world as a single family that deifies the one truth

Of course your standard caveats apply- since Hinduism is such an old religion with many texts, there are plenty of sects and variations out there, and some of the more conservative/orthodox ones may be more discriminatory (not just to non-Hindus but even focusing on the very caste systems of said Hindus).

That said, in actual practice, most of the mainstream temples I’ve seen in the US and in India are always welcoming of non-Hindus to visit, and the priests (if they speak English) usually are willing to take the time to explain or discuss the religion further with anyone. I’ve always grown up regularly seeing 1-2 “white people” at the temple during the services, and had been told by my parents they were simply Non-Hindus who converted or are following Hinduism.
Hindu being not just the word used to describe the religion but also the culture, so non-Hindu in the sense- they are not traditionally born to an Indian Family (and thus Caste system)/raised in the Hindu cultural traditions. But there’s no rule for them to say they’re interested and would like to follow along or join the temple.

Part Two:
Many Hindu temples and Shrines are considered clean/holy places- thus it’s not necessarily the status of one’s religion (though Religion and Caste may certainly play a role), but also some sites are designated as holy and may allow only “clean” people to enter- usually meaning they’re barefoot, have recently bathed and have not used the restroom since bathing, and are wearing pure silk garb *usually for women, or the traditional holy robes of a priest or such. Thusly, though it may seem like non-Hindus are not being admitted to a site or a puja that is being performed, it may more likely be due to the regulations of the said puja/site about purification rituals and procedures that must be followed in order to enter.
Hope that helps!
/hijack