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Features of Constitution1

Is there a constitution? Yes
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion? Yes


Constitution Year 1988
Last Amended 2010
Source President of the Federal Republic of Brazil (homepage)
Translation Unofficial translation by ARDA staff from Portuguese source
Current as of May 11, 2011

Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)2


We, the representatives of the Brazilian People, assembled in the National Constituent Assembly to institute a Democratic State to ensure the enjoyment of social rights and individual freedoms, safety, welfare, development, equality and justice as supreme values of a fraternal, pluralist and unprejudiced society founded on social harmony and committed, in the domestic and international spheres, to the peaceful settlement of disputes, promulgate, under the protection of God, this Constitution of the Federal Republic of Brazil.

Article 5

All are equal before the law, without any distinction whatsoever, guaranteeing Brazilians and foreigners residing in the country the inviolable right to life, liberty, equality, safety and property, on the following terms:
...VI - freedom of conscience and belief is inviolable, guaranteeing the free exercise of religious cults and guaranteeing, as provided by law, the protection of places of worship and their rites;
VII - under the terms of the law, it is assured that religious ministration in civil and military bodies of collective internment is provided;
VIII - no one will be deprived of their rights due to religious belief or philosophical or political conviction, unless it is invoked to exempt oneself from a generally applicable legal application and one refuses to perform an alternative obligation as established by law;

Article 19

It is forbidden for the Union, the States, the Federal District and the Municipalities:
I - to establish religious organizations or churches, to subsidize them, hamper their operation or maintain with them or their representatives relations of dependency or alliance, except, as provided by law, when collaborating in the public interest.;

Article 143

Military service is compulsory according to the law.
§ 1 - The Armed Forces must assign an alternative service to those who, in peacetime, after enlistment, claim imperatives of conscience, which should be understood as reasons based on religious faith and philosophical or political conviction, to evade activities of an essentially military character.
§ 2 - Women and members of the clergy are exempt from compulsory military service in peacetime, but they are subject to other duties assigned to them by law.

Article 150

Notwithstanding any other guaranteed ensured to the taxpayer, it is forbidden for the Union, the States, the Federal District and the Municipalities:
…VI - to levy taxes on:
…b) temples of any religious organization;

Article 210

Minimum curricula shall be established for elementary schools in order to ensure a common basic education and a respect for national and regional cultural and artistic values.
§ 1 - Religious education is voluntary and will be given during the regular school hours of public elementary schools.

Article 213

Public resources are allocated to public schools, and may be channeled to community, religious, or philanthropic schools, as defined by law, that:
I - prove that they are non-profit and invest their surplus funds in education;
II - ensure that they will dispose of their assets to another community, religious or philanthropic school or a public school, in the event that they cease their activities.
§ 1 - The resources mentioned in this article may be allocated to elementary and secondary school scholarships according to the law for those who demonstrate their lack of resrouces, when there are no vacancies or regular courses in the public school system in the student’s locality, the Government being required to invest primarily in expanding its network to that locality.
(2) University research and extension activities may receive financial support from the Government.

Article 226

…§ 2 – Religious marriage has civil effects, in accordance with the law.

Article 231

Indians shall have their social organization, customs, languages, creeds and traditions recognized, as well as rights to the lands they traditionally occupy, it being incumbent upon the Union to demarcate them and protect and ensure respect for all of its assets.


1.  Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

2.  The constitutional excerpts shown above are reproduced from the websites given in the "Source" field; the links to these websites were active as of May 2011. Where the constitutional text shown on these websites was provided in a language other than English, this text was translated to English by ARDA staff with assistance from web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish. Constitutional text was converted to American English where applicable. Constitutional clauses were judged to contain religious content based largely on the standards used in the construction of the Religion and State Constitutions Dataset collected by Jonathan Fox. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to highlight religious content in articles that also contain content that does not pertain to matters of religion. The data on this page were correct to the best of the knowledge of the ARDA as of the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

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