'Money is love'

MARICOURT, Que. -- Sun Media reporterBrigitte Mccann and photographer Chantal Poirier infiltrated the Raelians over a nine-month period and have put to paper the inside story of this bizarre sect

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Saying he works for free, the man known to his followers as Rael takes advantage of the annual "awakening" seminar staged in Maricourt to empty his disciples' pockets.

On Thursday, July 17, we witnessed a talent show attended by roughly 400 Raelians. The show turned into an auction intended to help Rael in his mission.

On the large stage, three photos taken by the 57-year-old guru are put up for auction.

The subject: Sophie Lemieux, his Raelian wife of 28 years, appearing topless in suggestive poses.


Followers are expected to spare no expense for their prophet.

"He has no salary, you know," seminar leader Gerard Jeandupeux repeats to the crowd.

Following a short succession of bids, a journalist for the movement's magazine purchases the first photograph for $900.

Far from happy, the leader urges followers to show more generosity, reminding them their prophet did not ask to be vested with such an important mission.

His message is heard loud and clear. One of Rael's volunteer bodyguards purchases the second photo, presenting a generous view of Sophie's breasts, for $3,300!

His expression speaks volumes on the hole in his budget.

After a battle of bids between three Raelians, the third photo is finally swept up for $5,000.

According to Rael, it was acquired by a guide with cancer who doctors say has only six months to live. Rael has just raked in $9,200 in a half-hour.

A week later, Raelian guide Nicole Bertrand, a close friend of the prophet, bluntly requests that the followers offer "love notes" to "take care" of their guru.

"Loving is giving and expecting nothing in return," she says. "You will be given the opportunity to show him how much you appreciate him, to treat him without expecting anything in return. Money is love, if that's what you do with it."

Her message targets everyone, no exceptions.

"Every one of you will have the opportunity to show, to the extent of your capabilities, how much you love him," she insists.

"These are love notes, don't you ever forget it, every time you offer a 100-dollar bill."

The members must place the money in straw hats held out by Rael's Angels, pretty young women at his service. Escaping is impossible -- at least two scantily-clad Angels are posted at every exit.

Claude Vorilhon (Rael) can claim high and low that the media attention created by human cloning has brought him a multitude of new disciples, but contributions to his cult are down.

Vorilhon admitted that fact himself, behind closed doors, during a presentation of the movement's financial statements for year 57 of the Raelian calendar, which stretches from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003.

"Put your pens and paper away!" Rael cries to the assembly.

"None of what you will hear must leave this room."

The movement's annual dues collected worldwide are established at $1.8 million, which represents an 11% drop compared to the preceding year.

"But it doesn't matter," the guru adds hastily before changing the subject.


Asian countries alone have apparently contributed $600,000, 27% less than the year before.

One Japanese woman donated $57,000.

Canada ranks among the 10 most generous countries, with donations of $202,000, offered in large part by Quebec members, Vorilhon says.

The U.S. ($105,000), Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and France are also included on the Top-10 list.

The guru contends that the movement pocketed a 20% profit on its investments in the stock market.

He mentions an amount of $13 million "in assets."