Brazil's top court allows state schools to teach religion

Brazil's Supreme Court has voted narrowly to authorize state schools to promote specific religions.

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