Raelians

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    I. Group Profile

    1. Name: International Raelian Religion

    2. Founder: Rael, formerly known as Claude Vorilhon

    3. Date of Birth: 1946

    4. Birth Place:France

    5. Date Founded:1973

    6. History: Flashback to 1973

      The Raelian tradition is unique among UFO groups in that it offers a creation story that ties it to the sacred books of the monotheistic traditions. The core idea is that the ancient Hebrew concept Elohim should have been translated as "those who came from the sky" rather than "God." The Elohim come from another planet and are responsible for the creation of life on this planet.

      Claude Vorilhon is the person chosen by the Elohim to bring the news of humankind's origins to the people of the planet Earth. The Elohim give him the name Rael and also assign him the responsibility of telling the news of the return of the Elohim.

      In his book, The Final Message, Rael tells of his first encounter with the Elohim extraterrestrials. On the morning of December 13, 1973, Claude Vorilhon was driving to an office in Clermont-Ferrand, France, where he worked as a journalist for a racing car magazine. However, he felt compelled to drive past the office and visit a nearby volcano in Auvergne, France instead.

      When he arrived at the volcano, called Puy-de-Lassolas, Vorilhon parked his car and proceeded to make his way on foot toward the center of the crater, so as to stretch his legs and take in some of the cool, misty morning air. Upon reaching the top of the volcano, he obtained the breathtaking view of the village of Clermont-Ferrand and reflected in appreciation that thousands of years ago the crator had shot out streams of hot molten lava. (The Final Message:19) After this reflection, Vorilhon turned to leave and walked back down the slope of the volcano.

      As he was about to get into his car and drive away, he turned to take one last look at the volcano, and it was then that he saw a flashing red light descending toward him.(pg. 20) Vorilhon described the light as resembling that of a helicopter. However, unlike a helicopter or any other earthly flying machine, the approaching red light made absolutely no noise. When the object emitting the light was about 20 meters above him, Vorilhon noted its flattened shape, and identified it as a flying saucer.

      The saucer, according to Vorilhon, had a diameter of about 7 meters and a height of 2.5 meters. The red flashing light was on its underside, and there was an extremely intense white light on the top. The saucer stopped descending when it was 2 meters above ground and a door on its underside opened to allow a stair to unfold and reach the ground. A human-like space creature proceeded to walk down these stairs. Vorilhon has described the individual as being about 4 feet tall with pale green skin, almond-shaped eyes, and long dark hair.(The Final Message, pg. 20)

      After an introduction when Vorilhon was surprised to learn that the extraterrestrial spoke fluent French, as well as every other language on Earth, Vorilhon followed the being into his metallic bell-shaped craft, where according to the space man, they would be able talk more comfortably. Once inside the comfortable craft, the space man began by saying to Vorilhon, "You regret not having brought your camera so that you could have talked about our meeting to the whole world-with proof in your hands?" To which Vorilhon replied naturally, "Yes, of course..."

      And so the space man continued, "Listen to me carefully. You will tell human beings about this meeting but you will tell them the truth about what they are, and about what we are. Judging from their reactions we will know if we can show ourselves freely and officially. Wait until you know everything before you start speaking publically. Then you will be able to defend yourself properly against those people who will not believe you and you will be able to bring them incontestable proof. You will write down everything I tell you and publish the writings as a book."(The Final Message, pg. 22.)

      After this first introductory session in the craft, Rael came back to the machine at the volcano for the next five mornings, meeting with the extraterrestrial six times in all. Each meeting lasted approximately one hour and during that time the extraterrestrial gave Vorilhon commentaries on portions of the Bible that the Raelians believe are the most misinterpreted.

      During these sessions, Vorilhon learned that humans were created in laboratories by people from another planet who had mastered the science of genetics and cell biology. The creators are the "Elohim," (singular, Eloha), a word that Vorilhon attests was wrongly translated in the Bible as "God." Vorilhon claims that the word, "Elohim" really means "those who came from the sky."

      Vorilhon's foreign mentor gave him the new name, "Rael," and asked him to spread the message of the true origins of humanity. (Official Homepage) The Eloha also asked Rael to build an embassy to prepare for the coming of the Elohim. According to Rael, the Elohim would like to come to Earth and meet with our world leaders in order to give us some of their extremely advanced technology. However, the Elohim will not come to Earth until there is world peace and the desired embassy has been built for them in Jerusalem. The Elohim asked Rael to create a movement in order to accomplish the two goals of spreading the messages of the Elohim and of building the embassy in Jerusalem. This movement, known as the International Raelian Movement, was begun by Rael in accordance with the requests of the Elohim in 1973.(Let's Welcome our Fathers from Space: 9)

    7. History: After 1973

      Since its formation in 1973, the Raelian Movement has grown to include 40,000 members worldwide. (Official Homepage) The Movement is strongest in France, Canada, and Japan. They also claim that the Raelians are experiencing strong growth in the United States, Australia, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, Britain, and other European countries.(The Final Message:197) Recently, the Movement has expanded to include members China and Hawaii. Worldwide, here are 130 Raelian priests, called Guides.(198)

      By 1997, the Movement had raised approximately 7 million dollars for the construction of the embassy for the Elohim. Therefore, Rael does not anticipate difficulties financing the embassy. Thus far, however, the Raelians have had no success in convincing the people of Israel to allow the embassy to be built in Jerusalem. In 1990, Rael, with the permission of the Elohim, changed the original symbol of the Movement, a swastika inscribed in the Star of David, in an effort to improve prospects of obtaining land in Israel. Since 1991, the Raelian Movement has repeatedly asked the Israeli government and the Chief Rabbi in Jerusalem to grant them international neutral territory on which to build the embassy, but "so far there has been no positive response from Israel." Ultimately, if an agreement cannot be made with Israel, the embassy might be build in Palestine or Egypt instead. (Rael, 1986:198-199)

      On June 9, 1997, the Raelian Movement announced the formation of Valiant Venture, Ltd. This company aims to offer a service, Clonaid, that will give homosexual and infertile couples the opportunity to clone a child from one partener's DNA. ("Religious Cult offers human clone service..." The Herald (Glasgow), 9 June 1997:9) The Raelian position regarding cloning is further discussed in the Contemporary Issues and Controversies section.

      To access current information about Raelian activities worldwide, click here.

    8. Sacred Texts:

      Raelian Mother Site states, "Scientists from another planet created all life on Earth using DNA," and continues with, "Traces of this epic master-piece of creation can be found in all religious writings. It is to them that Moses, Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed referred to..." Although the Eloha who Rael first talked with relied primarily on writings from the Bible as a basis for further translation, the Eloha also told Rael, "It is not only in the Bible and the Gospels that there are traces of truth; testimonies can be found in practically every religion... The Kabala (various spellings) is the closest book to the truth but almost all religious books allude to us with varying degrees of clarity. This is especially true in those countries where the creators had their bases - in the Andes, in the Himalayas, in Greece where Greek mythology also contains important testimonies as well as in the Buddhist and Islamic religions and among the Mormons. It would take many pages to name all the religions and sects that testify in a more or less obscure way to our work."(The Final Message, pg. 80)

    9. Cult or Sect:

      The goals of the Religious Movements Homepage are to (1) provide resources for objective understanding, (2) encourage appreciation of religious diversity, and (3) promote religious tolerance. The opportunity to pursue these goals is diminished when the language employed in public discourse silently carries highly negative presuppositions.

      The concepts "cult" and "sect" have rather precise and technical meanings when used by social scientists who study religion, and they are employed free of normative or evaluative presuppositions. In popular discourse, the concepts usually imply highly negative connotations that cloud objective understanding while promoting prejudice (i.e. pre-judgment). The misunderstandings resulting from confusion of social science and popular meaning of these concepts has led us to the conclusion that the goals of this page are not well served by using the concepts "cult" and "sect" to identify specific groups profiled on these pages.

      We do discuss the meaning of these concepts elsewhere on this site. Indeed, a major segment of the Religious Movements Homepage is devoted to the examination of cult controversies. Topics include popular culture and technical uses of the concepts cult and sect, the explosive issue of brainwashing or mind control, and an in depth examination of anti-cult and counter cult movements. We encourage readers to explore these resources.

      Toward the end of promoting religious tolerance and appreciation of diversity, we encourage the use of concepts that are free of implicitly negative stereotyping. In place of "cult" and "sect," we recommend concepts like "new religious movements," "religious movements," or, simply "religious group."

    10. Size of Group:

      The Official Homepage of the Raelian Religion claims that there are 40,000 members, representing 80 different countries. This number is at considerable variance with the figure offered by Susan Palmer, a sociologist who has studied the group. Palmer estimates that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 members worldwide, most of who are in French-speaking Europe, Japan (4,000 members), and Quebec (4,000 members). Palmer obtained some of her numbers from the British National Guide, Dr. Marcus Wenner, who, in 1995, believed there were 10,000 members in Europe, and that the movement existed in 67 countries.(Palmer, 1995A:195)

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    II. History of the UFO Movement:

    Background Context to the Formation of the Raelian Movement and other UFO Groups

    Religious studies scholar Robert S. Ellwood identifies the mid-twentieth century as the beginning of the modern UFO movement (1995). Ellwood describes fundamental connections between the modern UFO movement and traditional spiritualism. He writes, "Both [UFOism and spiritualism] presuppose an order of spiritually significant beings between the human and ultimate reality, with which one can have conversational and disciplic relationships... [They] open up a sense of expanded consciousness and cosmic wonder..." (394).

    Ellwood traces the origin of the modern UFO movement to June 24, 1947 when Kenneth Arnold reported seeing a chain of nine shiny objects flying over the Cascades in Western Washington at approximately 1600 miles per hour.(393) In the context of history, 1947 is just two years after Hiroshima and the first use of atomic warfare. Thus, UFO sightings in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s have often been interpreted as reactions to World War II. For example, Daniel Fry, allegedly contacted by spacemen, wrote a book called, The White Sands Incident, published in 1954. In this book, Fry describes his contact with the spaceman, A-Lan, who came to inform Fry and modern society about an ancient civilization on Earth that destroyed itself with nuclear power, and thus A-Lan warns the modern world about the perils of the rediscovery of nuclear weapons.(395)

    The Raelians are connected to post-war era sightings such as Fry's because, according to the Official Homepage of the Raelian Religion, Rael claims he was chosen as a prophet of the Elohim partly because he was born the year after Hiroshima. Although the Raelian Religion was not begun until 1973, it embraces visions of world peace and an end to atomic war material, ideas which are rooted in the post WWII era.

    Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, contactees of spacemen often addressed issues of world reorganization and of doomsday. Wallace C. Halsey, a member of a group called, Christ Brotherhood, (est. 1956) received messages in his sleep of inevitable world destruction and concurrent re-ordering. Halsey became a martyr of Christ Brotherhood in 1963 when he mysteriously vanished on a plane en route to Nevada from Utah.(396)

    In 1955 George King established the Aetherius Society in London. This society received messages via a "primary terrestrial mental channel", (i.e. telepathy), and sought to prevent Earth from being enslaved by evil space creatures.(396)

    In 1975, a group called Heaven's Gate was formed in California under the leadership of Bo and Peep. This group was commonly called HIM, an acronym for one of their key teachings, Human Individual Metamorphosis. The followers of Bo and Peep gave up their earthly possessions and proceeded into the woods where they believed they would be carried off into space by UFOs.(396)

    Similarly, the Raelian Movement, founded two years before Bo and Peep's organization, is anticipating contact from space. However, the Raelians do not believe that the faithful will be flown away from Earth, but rather that humanity's space creators (Elohim) will come to Earth to visit the people of the world. This visit will not take place until humans have prepared for this important visit by establishing world peace and building and embassy in Jerusalem to welcome the creators.

    Beginning in the 1970s and continuing through the 1980s, the UFO phenomena grew to contain accounts of contactees claming abductions. During these alleged abductions by spacemen, the abductees claim to have undergone medical examinations and procedures.(397) Other reports from abductees include discoveries of government cover-ups and conspiracy theories involving ominous relations between government agencies and spacemen.(398)

    As themes connected to UFOs and alien contact have been traced through history since World War II (as well as occasional isolated earlier sightings), some sociologists, such as Thomas Bullard, conclude that the UFO phenomena is a type of "modern-day folklore."(395) This is an interesting parallel to be considered. However, even if one is skeptical of adopting that conclusion, it is reasonable to view the trends and development of modern UFO phenomena as a reflection of the concerns (World War, nuclear warfare, the Vietnam War, government conspiracies, etc.) and future aspirations (overcoming earthly limitations, world peace...) of certain members of society.

    The Raelian Attitude Toward other UFO Groups

    According to Palmer, the Raelian position regarding other UFO groups and contactees is ambiguous. She writes, "While they (the Raelians) are quick to point to reports of UFO sightings in the news as corroborating Rael's story, they are inclined to dismiss the claims of career contactees as erroneous" (Palmer, 1995A:200).

    Additionally, Raelians tend to separate themselves from other UFO groups. In fact, the Official Homepage states, "We (the Raelians) are not ufologists. We find our evidence on our own planet, within humanity and in scientific progress, which increasingly confirms the messages given to Rael by the Elohim." Palmer further expands on the idea that the Raelians separate themselves from ufologists. In her work, Palmer includes a Priest Guide's explanation of the Raelian attitude toward others involved in the UFO phenomena. According to this Priest Guide of the Raelian Movement, "We (the Raelians) often encounter ufologists or UFO addicts similar to 'trekkies,' who are interested in nothing but UFOs, but we're not interested in UFOs per se, just the Message and those people who might be inside the UFOs." (Palmer, 1995A:200).

    The UFO Phenomena, Religion, and the Raelian Movement

    Many people find it difficult to accept the Raelian Movement, or any other UFO group, as a religion. Before labeling the Raelian Movement as religion or non-religion, it is important to explore what the concept "religion."

    The Concise Dictionary of Religion by Irving Hexham offers a variety of definitions for the entry, "religion." Hexham notes that the different definitions reflect individual biases and presuppositions. Included in this dictionary by Hexham is a definition of religion by James Frazer. Frazer defines religion as, "a propitiation or conciliation of the powers superior to man which are believed to direct or control the course of nature and human life."(187)

    Frazer's definition excludes Raelianism from the category of religion for two reasons. First, the Raelians do not believe in the "propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man." Non-conformity to this part of Frazer's definition is best explained with an excerpt from Rael's book, Let's Welcome our Fathers from Space (1998). Rael writes, "There is no need to kneel down or to lie down with your face in the dirt,... but rather to look up at the sky, standing proud... living in this day and age when we are able to understand and show love for our creators, who have given us the fantastic potential to create life..."(144) If it can be overlooked that the Raelians do not consider the Elohim to be superior powers demanding propitiation and conciliation, there is yet another reason why the Raelians do not fit Frazer's definition. Raelians do not believe that the Elohim have direct control over human life. Rather, Raelianism stresses humanity's opportunity to shape its own future. This belief is nicely illustrated in Let's Welcome our Fathers from Space, where Rael records a message he received from the Elohim. Regarding the Age of Apocalypse that humanity has entered, the message states, "Either humanity will develop an interplanetary consciousness, and the whole of mankind will enter the Golden Age, or the planet will self-destroy,... It's your move."(136-7) Obviously, the Raelian belief system allows for humanity to control its own destiny.

    The contemporary Evangelical Christian believes that religion is "the profession of faith in the atoning gift of salvation through acknowledgment of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ." Obviously this definition is very strict and excludes the Raelians and all other non-Christians. However, it is important to note that Raelian belief system deals with the common ideas of salvation and belief/faith. For example, the advancement of scientific knowledge will allow humanity to "develop interplanetary consciousness (as it enters) the Golden Age" through acknowledgment of belief in the Elohim as humanity's creators (Rael, 1986:136).

    Harvard University theologian Harvey Cox believes that traditional Christian belief is out-dated and unfunctional in present society. "We need an authentic contemporary form of spirituality," writes Cox (cited in Shupe, 1981:75). Raelianism successfully incorporates modern circumstance (space-age, advancements in science, UFO concern) into a set of beliefs that deals with the traditional issue of ultimate meaning.

    A definition of religion proposed by Stark and Bainbridge (1979) allows for this "modernization" of religion. According Stark and Bainbridge, religion is "a system of general compensators based on supernatural assumptions (121)." The authors explain that "compensators" merely refer to "postulations that the desired rewards will be obtained under conditions not readily susceptible to verification." In the article, "heaven" is given as an example of a general compensator that "implies an unlimited flow of varied rewards." It is possible to identify the compensator in the Raelian belief system as the transmission of human DNA that allows for cloning and eternal life. The science behind human cloning is not yet fully understood, and thus, in accordance with Stark and Bainbridge, it is a "postulation of a desired reward that will be obtained under conditions not readily susceptible to verification." In other words, there is no hard proof that Raelians will obtain eternal life via DNA cloning. Similarly, there is no proof that other people attain eternal life and heaven.

    The next part of the Stark and Bainbridge definition states that these general compensators are "based on supernatural assumptions," which is later elaborated as, "based on the assumption of the existence of the supernatural." For example, a person's belief in heaven may be based on faith in a god that makes the individual's particular version of after-life possible. In Raelianism, the belief in transmission of DNA is based on faith in the technologically advanced society of the Elohim. The Elohim are therefore taking on the role of the supernatural even through their abilities may be grounded in science. Writes Rael, in "Those (humans) who will have been intelligent enough to put their faith and trust in our Creators (Elohim) will be rewarded."(1986:145) This quote makes it evident that Raelianism is clearly a religion according to the term as defined by Stark and Bainbridge.

    This section has sought to illustrate that whether or not Raelianism is a religion depends on how religion is defined. Through a series of definitions, it has been shown that Raelianism holds a belief system that addresses a major theme of traditional religion, that of ultimate meaning, and that Raelianism offers solutions based on faith. Reluctance to understand Raelianism as a religion may be related to Raelian beliefs. For example, the Raelians incorporate many modern concerns, such as UFOs and cloning, into the structure of their belief system. These new dimensions to religion add vitality and allow interaction with present society. As a final note, it should not be overlooked that the Movement own homepage states, " Welcome to the Mother Site of the Raelian Religion." While the previous analysis of the Movement as a religion is significant, it is equally as important to respect the Movement's own recognition of themselves as a religion.

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    III. Beliefs of the Group

      The Raelians Believe...

    1. that the Elohim are the creators of humanity.

    2. in a scientific translation of the Bible.

    3. that humanity has entered the Age of Apocalypse.

    4. that an Embassy must be built to welcome the Elohim.

    5. in a concept of Infinity.

    6. in an Immaterial God and DNA as the source of Eternal Life.

    7. in a Political System of Geniocracy.

    8. in a World Government based on Humanitarianism.

    9. The Elohim, (singular, "Eloha") are people from another planet who created life on earth. This event of creation is recorded in Genesis. The original book of Genesis in the Bible does not use the word "God." Instead, it uses "Elohim," which means in ancient Hebrew, "those who came from the sky" (Rael, 1986:2)

      In addition, all great prophets, such as Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, and Joseph Smith were messengers of humanity's creators. Rael is the last of this long line of prophets (198). Rael's version of Creation is summarized in the opening pages of his book, Let's Welcome our Fathers from Space. According to Rael, humanity such as ours on Earth existed a long time ago on a far away planet. These people, the Elohim, were however, more advanced than us and they had mastered genetics and cell biology well enough to create life from DNA. The Elohim combed the universe in order to find another planet suitable for life to further continue their experiments in a more isolated environment than their native planet. The Elohim chose our Earth for this purpose, and so laboratories were build in what is now known as the Holy Land. In these laboratories, the Elohim first created plants, then animals, and finally, humans. As told in the Bible, "men were created in their (Elohim's) image."(2) These human creations of the Elohim were first housed comfortably, being fed and sheltered with no obligations, in the laboratory of the Elohim. However, humans soon proved to possess an aggressive nature, and thus, the Elohim forced the humans out of the laboratory, which was poetically referred to in the Bible as the "Garden of Eden."(3)

      To read another source with information about Creation according to Raelian belief, click here.
      http://www.rael.net/web/amessag1.html

      Rael's Let's Welcome our Fathers from Space includes other translations of the Bible. For example, it is written in Genesis 6:1-2 "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the Earth and daughters were born unto them, that the Sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took them as wives..." According to Rael, this indicates an interbreeding of the Elohim and their human creations.(3) Rael provides further evidence for his claim with verse 4 of chapter 6 in Genesis, where is written, "When the sons of Elohim had intercourse with the daughters of men and had children by them, the Nelphelin (mighty men) were on Earth, they were heroes of old, men of renown. Rael attests that this statement means that the children (Nelphelin) of an Elohim father and a human mother are of singular importance.(4) Rael believes he is the result of such a parental combination, as are all the major prophets, including Moses, Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed. As humanity's connection to its creators, the prophets were instructed by the Elohim to educate humanity with messages particularly adapted to the time and culture of a certain society. In addition, the prophets left traces of the Elohim so that when humanity was able, it could recognize its true origins. (Official Homepage of the Raelian Religion)

      For more Raelian interpretations of the Bible, click here.
      http://www.rael.net/web/amessag3.html

      We are now living in the Age of Apocalypse. Apocalypse means, in accordance with its Greek origins, "revelation." Therefore, humanity is now living in a time when it is scientifically advanced enough to understand its origins. Rael declares that humanity entered the Age of Apocalypse in 1945 with the use of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. Rael also offers evidence to further prove that humanity is living in the Age of Apocalypse. For example, it is written in the Bible that the Age of Apocalypse will arrive when the Jews regain their country, and this is true because the State of Israel exists. Also, it was written the blind will recover their sight during the time of revelation, and now advanced medical science allows doctors to perform optic surgery to give sight to the blind. The Age of Apocalypse was projected to be a time when man could send his voice across the ocean, and he is now able to do so using satellite telecommunication. Finally, it was written that the Age of Apocalypse would be a time when man could create life from inert matter, and as our knowledge of human genetics and DNA continues to expand, this forecast is becoming a reality.(Rael, 1986:6-7)

      It is imperative that an Embassy be build for the Elohim before they come to Earth to officially meet us and our governments. According to Rael, "For us, they are the most important people in the universe. Would you send your guests out to sleep on the street or do you invite them in to the love and warmth of your own home?" (Official Homepage of the Raelian Religion) The Elohim are also requiring the Embassy be built in order to protect the welfare of humanity. According to the Raelian Movement, "An unannounced and undesired landing would have enormous political, economic, and social repercussions with disastrous consequences worldwide." Since the Elohim do not wish to sanction any particular government, religion, or ideology except the Raelian Religion, they will only come to Earth when an embassy has been build especially for them. (Official Homepage of the Raelian Religion)

      The Raelians believe that there are infinite levels of life. Rael's message explains that our Earth is only one atom that forms a miniscule part of a gigantic being. That gigantic being, in turn, is but one individual who lives on a planet that is only one atom of an even larger being, and this structure exists indefinitely. In the infinitely small direction, our Earth and ourselves are composed of tiny atoms, which also contain intelligent life. And the life contained in the planets formed by the atoms of our Earth are also formed of even smaller atoms which are home for life that is still smaller and the cycle therefore continues indefinitely in the miniscule direction as well as in the infinitely large. (Official Homepage of the Raelian Religion)

      The Raelians believe in an immaterial God. Rael explains that God is not a being "with a white beard sitting on a cloud who created humans in his image."(1986:41) Rather, Rael writes that God is infinite: "Those who think of God as Infinity, as most oriental religions teach, are right, in so much as it represents a concept without identity, and without consciousness of our own existence, or any other for that matter."(1986:43) The Raelians also do not believe that the soul emerges from a dead body. They believe that a soul is in a person only so long as the individual is alive. Therefore, it is not the soul, but the recreation of an individual from their DNA that enables eternal life. These two beliefs are stated clearly in Let's Welcome our Fathers from Space where Rael concludes, "There is no 'God' but there is the Elohim, our Creators,... in whom we have faith... Also there is no autonomous soul flying from the body after death, but there is the genetic code which allows access to eternal life."(1986:44)

      The Raelians advocate a political system that only allows the most intelligent people to govern. Writes Rael, "What kind of people allow humanity to progress? The geniuses. Therefore your world must appreciate its geniuses and allow them to govern the Earth...(1986:85) We are talking about placing the genius in power, and you may call that "geniocracy(87)." The Eloha explains that in a system of geniocracy, only individuals with an intellect 10 percent above average should be allowed to vote, while an intellectual capacity of at least 50 percent above average would be required to be eligible to hold a governing position.

      The Eloha elaborates on this system of government, which is used on his native planet, with a comparison to the human body. For example, he says to Rael, "The cell in your foot should not decide whether or not your hand should pick up a given object. It is the brain which must decide, and if the object in question is good, the cell of your foot will benefit from it. It is not up to the foot to vote"(86). The faults of our present system of government, claims the Eloha, is that it is composed of politicians who "ensnare the people of democratic countries with their own hopes," as well as "military men whose success has been based around the rational organization of brutality"(85). It is unjust, continues the Eloha, that "there are many engineers... who are of lower than average intelligence, but who have good memories and have obtained several academic degrees because of this, (but) on the other hand, there are many laborers or farm workers who have no specialized education at all, but whose intelligence is fifty percent above the average"(86). Thus concludes the Eloha, "Therefore right from the start, the right to vote should be reserved for those people whose brains are more suited to thinking and finding solutions to problems - that is to say an elite group of high intelligence. This does not necessarily mean those people who have done the most studying" (87).

      The Eloha also told Rael, "You must see to it that all the nations of the Earth unite to form only one government."(1986:89) As described above, this governing body would be composed of geniuses, and it would impose a system of government that the Elohim refer to as "humanitarianism."(87) Humanitarianism is a response to the injustice that, "unintelligent children should live in luxury thanks to the fortunes amassed by their parents, while geniuses die of hunger and do any menial chore just to eat."(87) The Elohim point Rael to evidence in the Bible that the world does not belong to people; that humans are mere tenants of the Earth. Rael's Eloha mentor particularly specifies Leviticus 25:23, in which it is written, "No land shall be sold outright, because the land is mine, and you are coming into it as aliens and settlers"(89). Therefore, since it is not in the interest of Raelians to own land, they propose a system by which everything a person has during his/her life, except for a family home, is rented from the State that the individual is a part of.

      The Eloha explained this system to Rael, and its principles are recounted in The Final Message. When one becomes an adult, according to humanitarianism, they may wish to own a home, and so they may rent a house or apartment for 49 years from the State which constructed it. During those 49 years, the value of the house is paid for by the renter in monthly installments. At the end of the 49 years, the house will have been paid for and the occupant can remain there for the rest of his/her life without anymore payments. When the individual that paid for the house dies, the State receives the house, which it must then allow the deceased individual's children to live in freely if they wish to do so. Eventually, the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so forth may choose to live in the family home free of charge as well.

      In this manner, the family home is the only form of inheritance that can exist in a system of humanitarianism. All other institutions, such as businesses, land, non-residential buildings, monetary savings, and other goods are rented from the State during an individuals lifetime, and repossessed by the State when the renter dies. Accorded to the Eloha who explained this system to Rael, humanitarianism will allow "individuals to make a fortune for themselves depending on their own merits, but not for their children. To each his own merits... If geniuses are admitted to power they will understand the usefulness of these reforms"(88-89).

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    IV. Contemporary Issues and Controversies

      Among Other Reasons, Outsiders may Oppose the Raelian Movement because of...

    1. the original Symbol of the Raelian Religion.

    2. Sensual Meditation

    3. Support of Human Cloning

    4. "Operation Condom"

    5. The Raelian Religion's original symbol was the Star of David with a Swastika inserted in its center. The Raelians believe that the Star of David represents infinite space, a concept defined in the beliefs section above. The two triangles of the Star of David therefore symbolize "as above, so below," meaning that there are infinitely large galaxies just as there are infinitely small galaxies. The Raelians claim that the swastika originally framed by the Star of David represents infinity of time, and trace its origins to Sanskrit and Buddhist symbols, to the Chinese character for temple, and to ancient catacombs, mosques, and synagogues. (Official Homepage of the Raelian Religion)

      Although the Raelians claim the Swastika is one of the oldest symbols of infinity, it was abandoned as a symbol for the Raelian Religion in February of 1991 due to the bitter feelings it facilitated in the Jewish people because of its association with the Nazi holocaust. The current symbol for the religion is a swirling image of a galaxy surrounded by the Star of David. The Raelian Religion hopes that the alteration of the symbol will assist them in obtaining permission from the Israeli government to build the Embassy for the Elohim in Jerusalem. (Official Homepage)

      The Raelian Religion practices a set of techniques aimed at awakening the mind. This practice is called Sensual Meditation, and Rael attests that it was taught to him by the Elohim.(Official Homepage) This activity of the Raelian Religion forms the base of Awakening Seminars. The seminars last from 1 to 2 weeks and are held annually on every continent in the world. They are a time for members of the religion from all over the world to gather together and free themselves of the attitudes and demeanors that have been subconsciously implanted into Raelian individuals within the larger society.

      Rael teaches that individuals must awaken themselves and question ideas society takes for granted. The Official Homepage writes, "Sensual Meditation is designed to rectify this (the many inconsistent values conditioned by our present society) by teaching people to start questioning all their values and consequent actions,... so as to be able to decondition oneself, uninhibit oneself and appreciate the present in a much deeper way, enjoying every sensation with a maximum of pleasure and love without the paralysis of society's guilt... (Sensual Meditation) is to exercise and develop the senses..." Because of the nature of sensual meditation, many non-Raelians believe that the Raelian Religion is simply about sex, a point that is illustrated by the headline of a news article in the Ottawa Citizen (6 March 1995) stating "Sex, Extra-Terrestrials Focus of Church". The author of this article writes, "Among these (messages given to Rael by 'aliens') is a need for people to discover their bodies."

      In 1997, the Raelian Religion formed a company called Clonaid to promote research on human cloning. Many people, who do not share the same views as the Raelians regarding the possibility of eternal life from DNA reconstruction, believe human cloning is unethical. An article in New Scientist (31 May 1997) entitled "Cult's Bizarre Vision Rekindles Cloning Debate." addresses this issue. The introduction of this article states, "While many biologists dismiss the cult's plans as fantasy, leading bioethicists hope the bizarre episode will awaken legislators in the United States and elsewhere to the dangers of failing to regulate cloning technology in the private sector." The Ottawa Citizen's article, "Swiss Cult Offers Funds to Baby Clone Doctor"(11 January 1998), reports that the Swiss-based portion of the Raelian Movement offered United State's physicist Richard Seed support, including financial donations, to further his efforts to clone children for people who are unable to have their own naturally. In the same article, Dr. Brigitte Boiselier, a spokeswoman for the Raelian Religion, reported that 100 couples would like to have children cloned. The Raelians' strong support of human cloning, which is in agreement with their religious convictions, is opposed by other embers of society for ethical reasons.

      In November of 1992, Raelians distributed 10,000 condoms to students at a Catholic high school in Montreal, Canada. The distribution, called Operation Condom was a response to the Montreal Catholic School Commission's decision not to install condom vending machines in the schools. (Palmer, 1995A:203) The mentality of the Raelians is illustrated in the Toronto Star's article, "'ET' Believers Give Condoms to Students" (11 November 1992) by Raelian spokesperson Marie-Marcelle Godbout who said, "We (the Raelians) believe that the school board hasn't assumed its responsibilities so we're here to wake them up." In the same article, Commission spokesperson Alain Sanscartier said, there's "nothing we can do" to stop the Raelians from distributing condoms. Obviously, there are opposing sentiments about this sort of activity engaged in by the Raelians.

    | Profile | History | UFO Movement | Raelian Movement as Religion | Beliefs | Issues and Controversies | Links | Bibliography |

      


    V. Links to Raelian Web Sites

      Mother Site of the Raelian Religion
      This is the Official Homepage of the Raelian Religion. It is arranged so that it is quick and easy to obtain information on different aspects such as the religion's history and beliefs. The information on this site can be obtained in many languages and essays written by group members are available.
      http://www.rael.org/

      Rael
      This is perhaps the best source on the Web. Like the Mother site, this link is available in many languages. The text is extensive and the pictures are terrific. You can find most anything you want to know about the Movement here, including a copy of a letter written to Israel requesting land for the Embassy and a section addressing the Raelian position on sexual diversity.
      http://rael.net/

      Brother Blue [not available at our last inspection 02/04/01]
      This link provides more details about Rael's life and his two encounters with extraterrestrials, as well as a portion about sensual meditation. Two new articles concerning the Raelians have just recently been added to this site, and there is also extensive information about other UFO groups.
      http://www.brotherblue.org/brethren/rael.htm

      Clonaid
      This link is maintained by the Raelian Movement. Lots of information about the Rael's Clonaid service is available here with details describing the future plans for the service.
      http://www.clonaid.com/

      UFOland
      This is a small site maintained by the Raelian Movement. It contains images of UFOland, the Raelian theme park which opened in August 1997 near Montreal, Canada. There are pictures of the attraction and directions to get there, but not much else information. This site is also accessible through the Mother Site of the Raelian Religion.
      http://www.ufoland.com/

      UFOmind Paranormal Research Index
      This is a site boasts that it is the "World's Largest and Best Organized Paranormal Website." It describes itself as, "Low Graphics, No JAVA, No Music, No Fluff... Only the Stuff You Need!" This is an accurate description of this site. It contains thousands of links to information about all aspects of UFOs, including the religious aspects of the phenomena. Because this site is so huge, allow yourself plenty of time to explore the material available there.
      http://www.ufomind.com/

      Unofficial Link Page for Claude Vorilhon
      This page is part of the UFOmind Paranormal Research Index described above. It is one example of what can be found there and is a good place to find even more links, such as the ones following, about the Raelian Movement and the UFO phenomena. (|Religious Movements Based on UFO Beliefs|UFO Spiritual Aspects|)
      http://www.ufomind.com/people/v/vorilhon/

    | Profile | History | UFO Movement | Raelian Movement as Religion | Beliefs | Issues and Controversies | Links | Bibliography |

      


    VI. Bibliography

    Books:

    Palmer, Susan. 1994.
    Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers; Women's Roles in New Religions. New York: Syracuse University Press. Chapter 7, "Playmates in the Raelian Movement," 157-187.

    Rael. 1998.
    The Final Message. London: The Tagman Press.

    Rael. 1986.
    Let's Welcome our Fathers from Space. Japan: AOM Corporation.

    Shupe, Anson D. 1981.
    Six Perspectives on New Religions. New York: Edwin Mellen Press. 75-80.

    Articles:

    Bromstein, Elizabeth. 1997.
    "Raelians Open Theme Park." The Gazette (Montreal) 30 September: A4.
    as cited at [http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/].
    11/28/98.

    Campbell, Glenn. 1997.
    "Report on Rael Press Conference in Las Vegas." (11 March).
    as cited at [http://www.ufomind.com/area51/list/1997/mar/a12-002.shtml]
    11/28/98.

    Cohen, Philip. 1997.
    "Cult's Bizarre Vision Rekindles Cloning Debate." New Scientist (31 May).
    as cited at [http://www.newscientist.com/ns/970531/ncloning.html]
    11/28/98.

    Ellwood, Robert S. 1995.
    "UFO Religious Movements." in America's Alternative Religions. ed. Timothy Miller. New York: State University of New York Press, 393-399.

    Evans, Robert. 1997
    "Religious Cult offers human clone service..." The Herald (Glasgow) (9 June: 9).
    as cited at [http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/].
    11/28/98

    Green, Sarah. 1998.
    "Cloning Clinches it, 'Sex Cultists say Believe E.T.s' Created Man." The Toronto Sun 23 March: 26.
    as cited at [http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/].
    11/28/98.

    MacDonald, Victoria. 1998
    "Swiss Cult Offers Funds to Baby Clone Doctor." The Ottawa Citizen 11 January: A12.
    as cited at [http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/].
    11/28/98.

    Melton, J. Gordon. 1996.
    Encyclopedia of American Religions, fifth edition. Washington, D.C.: Gale Research. 684.

    Ottawa Citizen. 1998.
    "We Sat Inside a UFO."(21 March:C3).
    as cited at [http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/].
    11/28/98.

    Palmer, Susan. 1995.
    "The Raelian Movement International." in New Religions and the New Europe. ed. Robert Towler. Denmark: Aarhus University Press. 194-210.

    Palmer, Susan. 1995.
    "Women in the Raelian Movement: New Religious Experiments In Gender and Authority." in The Gods have Landed. ed. James R. Lewis. New York: State University of New York Press. 105-135.

    Talbot, Margaret. 2001.
    "A Desire to Duplicate," New York Times Magazine. (Feb 4). Read on line

    Zerbisias, Antonia. 1992
    "'ET' Believers Give Condoms to Students." The Toronto Star (11 November: A13).
    as cited at [http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/].
    11/28/98.

    Web Sites Cited in This Report:

    BrotherBlue.[not available at our last inspection 02/04/01]
    http:www.brotherblue.org/brethren/rael.htm, (Last visited11/28/98).

    Mother Site of the Raelian Religion.
    http://www.rael.org/ (Last visited 02/04/01).

    Unofficial Link Page for Claude Vorilhon.
    http://www.ufomind.com/people/v/vorilhon/ (Last visited 02/04/01).


    Created by Faye Whittemore
    For Soc 257: New Religious Movements
    Fall Term, 1998
    University of Virginia
    Last updated: 02/04/01