It should go without saying that you would be respectful when visiting any place of worship. Well you would think so. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case.
Let me give you an example. We visited the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo. As is usual in Cairo, it was hot when we were there. But I knew we would be visiting this and other mosques on the day. We both dressed in long pants, my shirt had 3/4 length sleeves and my husband wore a short sleeve button up shirt. I also took a scarf with me but didn’t actually need it. A group of tourists who were visiting the mosque at the same time we were included two females (probably in their mid 20s) who were wearing bikini tops and short denim shorts (the ones where you can see the pockets hanging out the bottom). Seriously? You shouldn’t go into any place of worship dressed like that, it’s disrespectful whether you are religious or not!
Be quiet! Well keep noise to a minimum. This includes turning your phone to silent. Many of the places you visit are still being used as places of worship and there are often people there praying or looking for solitude.
Look for any signs about whether photography is allowed or not. If in doubt, ask. Some churches do not allow photography inside at all, while others allow photography without a flash. If photography is allowed without a flash, make sure you turn the flash off on your camera or phone! And no selfie sticks (I have seen a number of churches where selfie sticks are not allowed). If you want a photo of yourself, ask someone quietly or take a selfie without using the selfie stick.
Don’t eat or drink once inside – opening that packet of crisps / chips or that bottle of fizzing drink isn’t appropriate!
Above: Sultan Hassan Mosque, Cairo
Above: This photo was taken inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris without a flash. I was using my Panasonic Lumix LX100 which is great in these types of situations where there is low light and you cannot use a flash.
Above: St Barnabas Chapel, Norfolk Island
Wear clothes that cover your shoulders and midriff and are at least close to knee length. This is for both males and females. Long shorts that come close to your knees or even cover your knees are usually acceptable but if in doubt jeans or long pants are the best option. Also a t-shirt is usually an acceptable way of covering your shoulders. If wearing a singlet, have a jacket or shawl to put over your shoulders. Ladies, a shawl can also be used to cover cleavage if you are wearing a low cut top or cover your head if you need to. If wearing a skirt or dress, just make sure it is not too short. Usually to the knee skirts and dresses are acceptable in most places but there are some that you need your knees covered (both men and women). Footwear is needed (unless in temples where you may be asked to remove your shoes) and usually sandals are ok. Hats (including caps and beanies) are usually removed when entering also. If in doubt check the website of the place of worship you are visiting before you go.
It really should be common sense but unfortunately I have seen so many people being disrespectful in places of worship.