Hutterites have gone from around 400 to 50,000 in 125 years (BBC)

An increasing number of people are turning to a little-known sect of Christianity in the hope of getting to heaven.

Since the 18<sup>th century, the number of Hutterites in North America has increased from about 400 to 50,000.

They believe that living separately from the world will give them access to heaven.

A BBC documentary, How to Get to Heaven with the Hutterites, looks at their lifestyle and how they remove themselves from society. They dress in traditional attire and adhere to living as part of a commune.

There are about 500 Hutterite communities in the US.

One Hutterite explains: "Everything I do I do for somebody else. I don't do it for me. And everything that somebody else does does it for me. You share, you work together for the good of everybody.

Hutterites are similar to the Amish - both are Anabaptist denominations (BBC)

"It's protected in the sense that we all watch one another. If there are two of you, you do not do the things you would do alone and that's the way it works with us."

Hutterites receive no pay for work and day-to-day decisions are made by elders. Any long-term decisions are made by men in the community. Women are excluded.

They do the cooking, cleaning, sewing and childcare, while men work on the farm and in workshops. Unlike the Amish, Hutterite's fellow Anabaptist denomination, they embrace technology and use computers for business deals with the outside world.

The film, however, shows that some Hutterites are not content with their life in the community and one young man is shown secretly running away to start a new life in the city.

Filmmaker Lynne Alleway followed Kelly Hofer, 19, the nephew of a Hutterite minister Zach Waldner.

Women do the cooking while men do farm work (BBC)

"In a Hutterite colony being an individual is very difficult. Everyone is encouraged to have their interests,but it is also encouraged as being for the greater good, and not for ourselves," Kelly told the BBC.

Alleway added: "Every year around 10 percent of Hutterites leave. It is described as running away and they talk about it quite openly.

"What intrigued me was that they are a group of people who have separated themselves from the world. They have removed themselves from what they describe as the evil forces of the world.

"Old people, for example, don't get put in old people's homes. They are looked after by their families.

"Obviously it is a very limited gene pool. To find a spouse they have to go to another Hutterite community. It is always the women who move away to live with their husbands and their families."

The sect was founded by Austrian preacher Jakob Hutter, who was publicly burned at the stake in 1536 for heresy.

How to Get to Heaven with the Hutterites is on tonight (Thursday) on BBC2 at 9pm.