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Sunday, August 15, 1999 Published at 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK


World: Americas

Moonies make 'heaven on earth'

Moonies say Brazil's swamplands can become an earthly paradise

The Moonies - formally known as the Unification Church - have chosen a remote corner of southern Brazil to create their vision of heaven on earth.


The BBC's Kathleen Hyland: "Many would say this site already has potential as an earthly paradise"
The cult is ploughing millions of dollars into an area the size of England in the swamplands of Brazil's Pantanal region.

But their expansion is causing unease among Brazilian politicians and the Roman Catholic church, who are concerned about the Unification Church's intentions.


[ image: A school is already up and running at the New Hope ranch]
A school is already up and running at the New Hope ranch
The popular state governor, Jose Orcirio dos Santos, has made it his mission to find out where the money is going, and why. At the moment, he says, nobody knows.

The Moonies, led by Reverend Sun Myung Moon, say the area's pure and untamed environment is perfect for creating their very own earthly paradise.

They came to the Brazilian swamplands after failing to find a site in Reverend Moon's home country of Korea and in the United States.

New Hope attracts thousands

The group has already spent more than $20m on a 74,000 acre site, called New Hope Ranch.


[ image: A Moonie mass wedding]
A Moonie mass wedding
Two thousand followers are already living on the site, and they plan to invest $2bn over the next 10 years.

The Moonies are intending to invite local children to attend their school by offering them free transport, although they insist there will be no indoctrination in classrooms.

They are also planning to build a hotel and an airport, and expand further afield.

Now they are planning education, agricultural and tourism projects in 30 cities within a 200 kilometre zone of the ranch.

They say the development will have a positive benefit on the Brazilian economy.



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Internet Links


Unification Church

Mtnews - information on the state of Mato Grosso

The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions

Government of Brazil


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