Can you close church in Brazil? What does the Religious Liberty Act say?

Can you close church in Brazil? What does the Religious Liberty Act say?
Can you close church in Brazil? What does the Religious Liberty Act say?

A question that turns and moves stirs social networks is: can you close a church in Brazil? And the answer is yes, this can happen, if the temple structure presents a risk of collapsing or in situations where there is a distortion of the essential purposes of the religious organization, among other situations. This is what members of the Religious Freedom Commission of the Federal Council of the OAB (Brazilian Bar Association) explain, Thiago Rafael Vieira and Jean Regina.

Thiago Rafael Vieira, who is president of the Brazilian Institute of Law and Religion (IBDR), and Jean Regina, who is also 2nd vice president of the IBDR, inform that there is no “Religious Freedom Law” in force in Brazil. There are, however, some state and municipal laws, such as, for example, the State Law of São Paulo, nº 17.346/2021.

At the national level, what exists is the constitutional guarantee of freedom of belief (conscience, belief or individual spiritual faith) and religious freedom (expression, organization and individual or collective worship, assistance and religious teaching and objection of religious conscience).

Vieira also comments that the State can currently “close” a temple of any cult for various reasons, whether for situations involving the location of the temple itself, for administrative sanctions or even for judicial decisions that end up making the functioning of a certain religious organization unfeasible, such as the risk of collapse.

“Other than that, it is illegal and unconstitutional to close a church, including requiring a permit. A permit is required from companies and associations, never from a religious organization”, points out the president of the Brazilian Institute of Law and Religion.

The lawyer also comments that there is no specific provision that conditions the behavior of a religious organization under penalty of closure. This goes against the idea of ​​collaborative Brazilian secularism, present in art. 19, I, of the Constitution, which prohibits the State from hindering the exercise, whether private or collective, organized or not, personalized or not, of religious faith.

“art. 19. The Union, the States, the Federal District and the Municipalities are prohibited from:
I – establish religious cults or churches, subsidize them, impede their operation or maintain relationships of dependence or alliance with them or their representatives, except, as provided by law, for collaboration in the public interest”

What is known about the “Religious Liberty Law” in Brazil?

Vieira and Regina explain and lament that there is no federal “Religious Freedom Act”.

In Brazil, there are what experts call sparse laws that help implement constitutional guarantees, but there is no national law on the subject. In addition, lawyers compare the national context with countries with a secular state.

“Countries that also have a collaborative secularism (even if not as advanced as we do) on a constitutional level, such as Portugal and Spain, have ordinary laws (religious freedom law) regulating various practical aspects, which we still don’t have here.”, they declare. Vieira and Regina.


Religious disrespect is considered a crime in the country and equates religious prejudice or discrimination with racism. Vieira and Regina reinforce that this is the same article that currently penalizes discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The penalty, in this case, is imprisonment from one to three years and a fine.

how to report

Discrimination must be fought, denounced and punished. The Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights has the DISQUE 100 channel to deal with complaints of cases of religious discrimination.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: close church Brazil Religious Liberty Act

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