Brazil’s top court al­lows state schools to teach re­li­gion

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

BRAZIL’S Supreme Court voted nar­rowly Wed­nes­day to au­tho­rise state schools to pro­mote spe­cific re­li­gions.

Chief Jus­tice Car­men Lu­cia made the de­cid­ing vote in fa­vor of so-called con­fes­sional schools, at which teach­ers will be per­mit­ted to pro­mote their re­li­gious be­liefs dur­ing class. In non­con­fes­sional schools, teach­ers can dis­cuss only the his­tory and so­cial im­pact of re­li­gion.

The 6-5 de­ci­sion by Brazil’s top court also states that stu­dents can­not be com­pelled to at­tend re­li­gion classes and that they must have their par­ents’ per­mis­sion to par­tic­i­pate.

Brazil’s con­sti­tu­tion says re­li­gion classes should be avail­able for pupils be­tween the ages of 9 and 14, but it doesn’t spec­ify what should be taught.

Sev­eral pri­vate schools and uni­ver­si­ties in Brazil have links to the Ro­man Catholic Church and evan­gel­i­cal faiths.

The chief jus­tice said lay con­trol of schools will be pro­tected since pupils can de­cide whether to at­tend re­li­gion classes or not.

“Re­li­gious lib­erty needs to be re­spected, but without im­pos­ing rules to the na­tion. But I don’t see a sub­mis­sion of the state in the norms be­ing ques­tioned,” she said.

Brazil’s Supreme Court made the de­ci­sion after the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice ar­gued that a deal be­tween Brazil and the Vatican al­low­ing re­li­gion classes in pub­lic schools was un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Jus­tice Luis Roberto Bar­roso, who voted against al­low­ing re­li­gion classes in pub­lic schools, warned that the de­ci­sion puts sec­u­lar con­trol of schools at risk.

“A re­li­gion can­not use pub­lic space to pro­mote its faith. This would be a pri­vate ap­pro­pri­a­tion of pub­lic space,” Bar­roso said. – AP

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