Australian and international tourists are planning to hike through places of worship across the country following the announcement that Uluru will be closed for climbing in October this year.
The Desecration Tour, as it has been labelled, will begin at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney before continuing to other churches as well as temples, mosques and synagogues throughout the nation. Streets surrounding religious buildings will soon be inundated with vehicles parking illegally, while residents have been warned that their gardens are likely to be used as toilets and rubbish dumps.
Participants in the Desecration Tour are determined to hike in as many sacred sites as possible after learning that they will be prevented from climbing Uluru due to the wishes of the Anangu people, the traditional custodian of the land on which Uluru lies.
The famous rock in the centre of Australia has always been scared to the Anangu people, who ask visitors to respect their culture and beliefs. Despite their wishes, and the multiple, multilingual signs at the base of the rock, hundreds of tourists climb the rock every year.
Tourists are set to don hiking shoes, backpacks and zinc cream as they descend upon places of worship, where they will take selfies, enjoy a picnic, leave behind rubbish and place themselves and others in danger.
Visitors will be encouraged to visit as many sacred places as possible, and record their achievements through the Sacred Summits App and facebook page, where they can upload photos as proof of their conquest. Visitors will earn extra points for conquering a sacred place during a religious ceremony, such as the Christian mass.
The facebook page has already attracted thousands of ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘comments’ and ‘posts’ and has united tourists, who are calling on religious organisations to install toilets, rubbish bins and other amenities on the altar or consecrated section of each religious building, in order to cater for the visitors. Countless members have also demanded doggie bowls so that their dogs can have a drink.
Religious groups have issued mixed responses to the news. Many were horrified that grown adults would knowingly desecrate a sacred site in direct opposition to the stated wishes of the custodians of the land, while others promised to welcome all visitors.
“We’re just glad to have someone turn up to Mass,” conceded a spokesperson for Christian church groups in Australia.
“The only person who has been on the altar of our churches for many years is the priest, or minister, because most of our parishioners are too old to reach the altar, and we can no longer invite children to the altar in light of recent events.”
Tourists, meanwhile, have taken to social media to express their delight at finding a new opportunity to demonstrate their respect for sacred beliefs.
“Religious sites belong to all Australians, and all Australians should be able to climb them.”
“If I don’t climb this mosque, someone else will.”
“This rocks – let’s bag this b/.ch”
“Wow, great idea, plus it’s free, heaps cheaper than Bridge Climb.”
“Great way to teach my kids true Aussie culture and Aussie values.”
“Wonderful initiative, hiking through sacred sites will help me to gain a greater understanding of various religions.”
“Following the footsteps of Moses, who climbed…something.”
The Desecration Tour is set to continue for an unspecified period of time, and will even involve scaling the stage of the Horizon Church in Sutherland, in Sydney’s south, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison prays for all Australians. Tourists have already created a spin-off called Climb the Hillsong, to take place at every Hillsong megachurch throughout Australia.