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The Raelian Movement
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THE RALIAN MOVEMENT
In recent years we have seen headlines around the world claiming that a company, named Clonaid, had been successful in cloning the first human baby. A Japanese newspaper, in January, 2003, announced the claim of the birth of the world’s third human clone, to a Japanese couple. The company Clonaid was set up by the Raelian Movement. It has been a very successful marketing exercise, drawing much media attention to the group. We need to examine the teachings and practices of this group.
The organization is led by a man who calls himself ‘His Holiness Rael’ as wells as the ‘Prophet Rael’. Sometimes he is referred to as the ‘Messiah’. He was born Claude Vorilhon, in 1946, in France, and he became a racing car journalist. His claim is that on December 13, 1973, at a large volcanic crater in central France, in the early morning fog, he saw a flying saucer land. A small childlike creature, dressed in a green suit, descended a towered stairway and spoke to him in perfect French. The encounter is detailed in Vorilhon’s first book, The Message Given to Me by Extraterrestrials: They Took Me to Their Planet. He claimed a second contact, in 1975, when he was supposedly taken to the planet of the extra-terrestrial visitors. There he claimed to have met 400 eminent dead Earthlings, including Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Joseph Smith, and Mohammed. They were all created from cell samples removed from their bodies moments before their deaths. It was during these encounters that his name was changed to Rael, which means ‘the messenger’ in their language, and he was to return to Earth to teach Earthlings the noblest thing: to seek pleasure for pleasure’s sake, especially sexual pleasure.
Vorilhon claims that he has found parallels in his life to the life of Christ. He says that he is a child born out of wedlock. He was not born on December 25, but says he was conceived on that day, and his grandmother is supposed to have told him that on the night he was born, a spaceship like a star had appeared above the trees and shone a light on their house. Vorilhon says that he did not want to be a Messiah, but ‘I had ulcers and stomach pains until I finally spoke’. (Chicago Tribune, Friday, March 20, 1992, p 1) He first spoke on a popular French talk show. He is usually dressed all in white, described by one journalist as ‘a uniform that looks a bit like a space suit with padded shoulders. His balding head is crowned by a tiny ponytail’. (New York Times, Feb 24, 2003)
Vorilhon now lives in Quebec, Canada. The headquarters of the Rael movement is called UFO land, and is situated between Montreal and Quebec City. It is built as a theme park, and visitors are encouraged, especially in summer. They claim to have some 55,000 followers around the world with the biggest number of followers living in Japan.
The message, Vorilhon claims was given him by the extraterrestrial beings, is that life on Earth is not the result of random evolution, nor the work of a supernatural God. It is a deliberate creation, using DNA, by a scientifically advanced people who made human beings literally ‘in their image’. As expected, this group can claim references to their teachings in ancient texts. The creatures are called ‘Elohim’, and the teaching claims that this word found in the book of Genesis, has been incorrectly translated as ‘God’ in the singular. The correct translation is a plural, and means ‘those who come from the sky’.
According to the Movement’s literature, even though humanity was left to progress by itself, the creator beings, the ELOHIM, maintained contact with us through the PROPHETS, which included Buddha, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. The Prophets were specially chosen and educated by the Elohim. The Prophets were to leave traces of the Elohim so that we would be able to ‘recognise them as our creators and fellow human beings when we had advanced enough scientifically to understand them’. We learn that we are now in the predicted AGE OF REVELATION, and this is a privileged position. Mankind has progressed scientifically far enough to be able to understand our origins and the true nature of these ‘Gods’. (Raelian pamphlet: The Truth Finally Revealed)
Vorilhon teaches that he was instructed by the Elohim to establish an Embassy for them where they will officially meet with the Earthlings and the world governments when they come to Earth. The Embassy will represent our invitation to the Elohim, because they will only come if invited. The message as to the location of this Embassy is mixed. It had been suggested that it must be Jerusalem but the suggestion was not embraced by the Israelis. It has alternatively been proposed that it be some peaceful location. In an interview in The Chicago Tribune, Vorilhon said the structure of the Embassy must have ‘seven rooms always ready to receive guests, each with a separate bathroom, a conference room able to receive at least 21 people… They love swimming… They have a pool on the mother ship’. (The Chicago Tribune, March 20, 1992) Followers of the Rael Movement are encouraged to give 3% of their earnings for the building of this Embassy. The Embassy is to be completed by the year 2035 when the arrival of the Elohim will bring in 1000 years of peace.
Originally, the symbol for this movement (always worn as a pendant by Vorilhon and his followers) was the Star of David with the Nazi Swastika inside the Star. This caused considerable Jewish anger, so Vorilhon/Rael changed it in 1992. Now it is the Star of David, which supposedly represents infinite space, with a swirl in the centre representing infinite time, apparently giving it the appeal of science. Vorilhon calls his movement ‘an atheistic religion’, and some followers are attracted to it because they believe it marries science with a belief system. Some critics would say that the group has appeal because it gives a pseudo-religious and pseudo-scientific excuse for hedonism.
It would seem that the practices of this movement are not demanding. Vorilhon’s followers are expected to denounce any previous church affiliation, and live any way they like. All types of sex is encouraged - heterosexual, homosexual, trans-sexual. One article about Vorilhon is entitled ‘The Sexual Messiah’. (National Post – Canada August 7, 1999 – Weekend Post - Culture) The practices seem to follow his basic message - there is no God, we have no soul, the sensuality and beauty of the human body are the greatest gifts with which our alien creators endowed us - so enjoy it to the uttermost. Sensual Meditation is a collective naked sensual/sexual self exploration led and directed by Vorilhon or one of his ‘Guides’. Such ‘mediation’ sessions have been declared mandatory for all new participations and would-be members. One observer at a retreat noticed that the crowd stopped listening when Vorilhon stopped talking about sex, and started talking about UFO’s. (ibid) A report from a week’s retreat at a Sensual Meditation camp in the Quebec countryside stated: ‘Everybody was free to say no to a sexual invitation, nobody had the right to feel jealous or possessive if their lover desired another… The place was filled with gay men, girls fresh off the plane from Japan, Swiss women walking around naked.’ The report included a pertinent observation: ‘Rael’s success seems to derive from offering a structured environment for decadent behaviour: He offers a no-guilt playground for hedonism and sexual experimentation.’ (ibid)
A Canadian newspaper reporter, along with a colleague, infiltrated the Rael movement for several months during 2003. Their reports caused a considerable stir in Canada. Brigitte McCann reported that it is not cheap to become a Raelian. She noted that, though she spent the bare minimum, it cost her $2000. The annual fees to the national body represent between 3% and 11% of a member’s take home pay. The cheapest Raelian medal was $88, whilst the gold model was $900. Some ‘essential’ books were $105, and money was collected for all sorts of reasons, including: for the hall, cloakroom, parking fees, and group meals. The cost of attending the annual two week ‘awakening’ seminar is, in her term, ‘outrageous’. To attend one must become an official member of the international movement and that involves around 7% of one’s take home pay. Then there are tapes for home use at $140-$200. She ignored the collection at the ‘awakening’ seminar which was to ‘take care’ of the guru. (Edmonton Sun, October 10, 2003)
The same reporter wrote of her ‘baptism’ on April 6, 2003. She was baptized by Vorilhon himself. Baptism Day is believed to be one of the greatest moments in the life of a Raelian. She explains that ‘during the “transmission” of my “cellular plan” Rael will use telepathy to send my genetic code to our creators, the Elohim, who will then be able to communicate with me… I stop in front of the “prophet” who fixes his eyes on mine, his face solemn. Baptism is his bolt from the blue, his sword, his stranglehold on his disciples. At any time he can withdraw their privileges by debaptising them on the spot…The guru...plunges his hands into the bowl of water. He places his right hand on my forehead, his left on the back of my head and exerts a light pressure. Water runs down my face. He closes his eyes, and so do I … [then] Vorilhon...solemnly declares “The Elohim have acknowledged you!”… To hear Vorilhon, his love is infinite. “I love you, all of you, with or without a skirt, with an equal love,” he declares. “This is the only love.”’
Vorilhon has given his Raelian followers four holiday celebrations a year:
1. The claimed anniversary of the supposed clone creation of the first human being on earth 13000 years ago is celebrated on the first Sunday in April;
2. The claimed anniversary of the supposed first extra terrestrial visit to Vorilhon is celebrated on December 13;
3. The anniversary of the day the United States bombed Hiroshima, August 6, (1945) marks the beginning of the Raelian New Year because ‘this is the first time humans used energy to destroy themselves.’
4. The second claimed visit by extraterrestrials to Vorilhon is celebrated every October 2. (e.g. see Miami Herald, December 29, 2002)
Some Raelian recruiting approaches have come in for strong criticism. One Canadian newspaper reported that ‘former members of the Raelian cult say attractive members of the movement cruise strip clubs and bars looking for lonely hearts who are offered free sex and plenty of it - to recruit them into the organization… They use free sexuality as inducement and recruiting.’ (Edmonton News, October 11, 2003) During 2002, in Quebec, Raelians aggressively targeted high schoolers with anti-Roman Catholic pamphlets as students were arriving for school. The tracts urged students to abandon Roman Catholicism and even distributed wooden crosses and urged students to burn them as a symbol of their rejection of Christianity and Roman Catholicism. These Raelian actions caused outrage in the community, especially amongst many parents. They were careful, however, not to actually break any laws. They did not enter any school properties for their distributions, and eventually dropped their supply of wooden crosses and the cross-burning promotions. (Montreal Gazette, October 1, 2002) The Raelians have also been actively targeting and encouraging Roman Catholics in Brazil to reject their religion. They have especially targeted homosexuals and lesbians connected with the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil, emphasising that the Raelian Movement is more welcoming of homosexuals in its organization than any other religion. (Scoop Media, 18 August, 2003)
Structure of the movement
Like the Roman Catholic Church which Vorilhon so despises, he has set up his movement with virtually two levels - an elite, almost ‘clergy class’ and a ‘laity’ of ordinary members. The more formal hierarchical structure has well over a thousand elite members. He rules the hierarchical pyramid as the Planetary Guide, with an entourage of other ‘Guides’ such as Bishop Guides (such as Brigitte Boisselier of cloning infamy), followed by Priest Guide, Assistant Guide, Leaders and Leader Assistants. The rest are those who follow the lead of the various ‘Guides’ - the rank and file ordinary members. Vorilhon also created an Order of Angels - select women whose role it is to serve and service the prophets (Vorilhon, as Rael, being the only current prophet) and any visiting extraterrestrials.
The announcements by the Raelian movement, that Dr Brigitte Boisselier, as director of the Raelians human cloning project, had been successful in cloning five human babies since December 26, 2002, has been a hugely successful public relations exercise. The ever publicity seeking Vorilhon reportedly stated ‘If someone dares to say it’s not true - and I would never say that - it’s still a win-win situation for us. All the world knows about the Raelian movement now and I am thankful for her for that. Some media experts say we got between $600 million and $700 million worth of coverage and I did nothing.’ (New York Times, February 24, 2003) It would seem to have been no accident that the first cloning announcement was made just after Christmas - Vorilhon is reported to have stated: ‘It’s so important that our message should be brought to humanity by a baby.’ (Montreal Gazette, January 20, 2003) Neither was it a coincidence that the first reported cloned baby was called ‘Eve’.
The Clonaid claimed laboratory’s location has remained a secret. None of the supposedly Raelian cloned babies have been shown. No independent and scientific scrutiny of claimed cloning has ever been permitted by the Raelians. In spite of all this Vorilhon and Boisselier have testified before the U.S.A. Congress, and spoke on cloning before other the National Academy of American Sciences in Washington. Some frustrated medical researchers, and other scientists, were angered by this. Some of them believed that the Raelian involvement in the cloning debate made ‘cloning look unduly creepy’ and that ‘Lawmakers will be influenced to think negatively when Vorilhon appears in a white spacesuit and talks about flying saucers.’
Whether the whole of the cloning claims are part of an elaborate publicity seeking hoax by the Raelians is not clear. What is clear is that cloning is part of their psyche and is supposedly the way in which the first humans were created by alien visitors to earth. While there is no evidence of scientific expertise of the kind required for cloning amongst any of the Raelian hierarchy - Brigitte Boisselier apparently has a background in metals and gasses not living cells - it is possible that the Raelians may have carried out experiments. Their beliefs seem to discount any moral or legal restraints on such experimentation.
Sense of Persecution
A persecution complex appears to have been growing in the Raelian movement. It seems Vorilhon, constantly surrounded by bodyguards, has increasingly been suggesting that numerous powers and authorities are seeking to have him assassinated. He has apparently claimed that America’s George Bush and France’s Jacques Chirac ‘want his skin’, and that their operation to have him eliminated is called the ‘Abraham Project’. He has suggested that mentally ill people, such as schizophrenics, would be used as agents to assassinate him and carry out other crimes against the Raelian movement. Some Raelians even appear hopeful that this will happen. One follower reportedly stated: ‘Jesus wasn’t crucified for nothing.’ (Chicago Times, October 7, 2003)
The history of religious and cultic groups shows that such a growing paranoia is a dangerous trend. Persecution claims, conspiracy theories and an increased ‘us versus them’ mentality increases the leader’s control over followers and further separates them from those outside the group. It can also lead to a siege or battle mentality to oppose the enemies of ‘truth’. Some observers have noticed a tightening of Vorilhon’s hold over his followers. Sociologist, Alain Bouchard, observed, ‘He’s really starting to take himself more seriously…His ego’s growing.’ (ibid) Journalist, Brigitte McCann, who went into the group ‘undercover’, commented on members of Vorilhon’s Order of the Angels, stating that, ‘several women have committed themselves to die if needed to protect their “beloved prophet”.’ She warned readers not to regard the Raelians as inoffensive clowns. (ibid) Her warning, in the light of comments from other observers and general developments with the Raelians, should be heeded.
Here is another group with all the hallmarks of a cult. This group needs to be observed carefully, not only by Christians concerned about false teaching, but by the secular authorities, to ensure that the illusional leader does not take the group down the fatal path experienced by so many former cults.
CCG Ministries 2005