Raëlism

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Raëlism
A gathering of Raëlians in South Korea.jpg
A gathering of Raëlians in South Korea.
Formation 1974
Type
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland[1]
Founder
Claude Vorilhon ("Raël")
Key people
  • Claude Vorilhon
  • Brigitte Boisselier
Website rael.org
A series of articles on the

Raëlian Movement

Adam, Eve, and Elohim (Raëlism).gif

FounderHistory
Beliefs & practices
Cloning (Clonaid)
Funds

Views on:
Politics
Economics
Cosmology

Raëlism, also known as Raelianism or the Raëlian movement, is a UFO religion that was founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, now known as Raël. It is numerically the world's largest UFO religion.[citation needed] An adherent of Raëlism is a Raëlian.

The Raëlian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim. Members of this species appeared human and when having personal contacts with the descendants of the humans they made, they previously misinformed (on purpose) early humanity that they were angels, cherubim or gods. Raëlians believe messengers, or prophets, of the Elohim include Buddha, Jesus, and others[2][3][4] who informed humans of each era.[5] The founder of Raëlism, members claim, received the final message of the Elohim and that its purpose is to inform the world about Elohim and that if humans become aware and peaceful enough, they wish to be welcomed by them.

Japanese Raëlian character mascot.

The Raëlian Church has a quasi-clerical structure of seven levels. Joining the movement requires an official apostasy from other religions.

Raelian ethics include striving for world peace, sharing, democracy and nonviolence.[6] Sexuality is also an important part of the Raëlian doctrine. The Raëlian Church has attracted some of its priests and bishops from other religions despite having liberal views of sexuality.[7]

Raël founded Clonaid (originally Valiant Venture Ltd Corporation) in 1997, but then handed it over to a Raëlian bishop, Brigitte Boisselier in 2000.[8] In 2002 the company claimed that an American woman underwent a standard cloning procedure that led to the birth of a daughter, Eve (b. 26 December 2002). Although few believe the claim, it nonetheless attracted national authorities and the mainstream media to look further into the Raëlians' cult status.

The Raëlians frequently use the swastika as a symbol of peace, which halted Raëlian requests for territory in Israel, and later Lebanon, for establishing an embassy for extraterrestrials. The religion also uses the swastika embedded on the Star of David.[9] Starting around 1991, this symbol was often replaced by a variant star and swirl symbol as a public relations move, particularly toward Israel.

History[edit]

Membership estimates from various sources
Further information: History of Raëlism

The beginnings of Raëlism are rooted in the claims of a French former automobile journalist and race car driver Claude Vorilhon. In his books The Book Which Tells the Truth (1974) and Extraterrestrials Took Me to their Planet (1975), Vorilhon alleges that he had alien encounters with beings who gave him knowledge of the origins of all major religions.

The movement traces its beginnings to a conference in Paris, France of two thousand people in 1974.[10] From there, the MADECH organization was born.[10] The name MADECH is a double acronym in the French language. The first stands for "Movement for the welcoming of the Elohim, creators of humanity" (Mouvement pour l‘accueil des Elohim, créateurs de l'humanité) while the second stands for "Moses preceded Elijah and the Christ" (Moise a devancé Élie et le Christ).[11]:p. 104 By 1976, Raël transformed MADECH into the International Raelian Movement.[12]

From 1980 to 1992 Raël and his movement became increasingly global. In 1980 Claude Raël's fifth Raëlian book Sensual Meditation was published and formal publication of the Raëlian Messages in the Japanese language began[48] as part of the Raëlian mission to Japan.[16]:p. 64 Two years later, Africa became another target area in the mission to spread the Raëlian messages.[16]:p. 64

On 26 December 2002, Brigitte Boisselier, a Raëlian Bishop and CEO of a biotechnology company called Clonaid announced the birth of baby Eve, supposedly the first-ever human clone. The announcement ignited much media attention, ethical debate, doubt, criticism, and claims of a hoax. Spokespeople for the movement, including Claude Vorilhon, have suggested that this is one of the first steps in achieving a more important agenda. They claim that through cloning they can combine an accelerated growth process with some form of mind transfer, and in such, may achieve eternal life.[49][50]

Member hierarchy[edit]

Level 6:
Guide of Guides
Planetary guide
Level 5:
Bishop
Level 4:
Priest
Level 3:
Assistant Priest
Continental head
National guide
Regional guide
National guide
Regional guide
Regional guide
Level 2:
Organizer
Level 1:
Assistant Organizer
Level 0:
Trainee
Sources[51][52]

The structure of the Raëlian Church is hierarchical, with seven levels ascending from level 0 to level 6.[53] The top four levels consist of "Guides". The level 6 guide, known as the "Guide of Guides", has the final say on who becomes a level 5 "Bishop Guide" or a level 4 "Priest Guide".[53] Bishops and priests promote lower-level members one level at a time during annual seminars. Each bishop or priest can propose a new guide as long as the candidate is from a level below his or her own. Guides can assist "Regional Guides"—level 3 and above[51][52]—in their assigning of non-guide members to levels 3 ("Assistant Priests"), 2 ("Organizers") and 1 ("Assistant Organizers").

Members of the Raëlian structure begin as level 0 "trainees" during annual seminars. The Raelian structure claimed in 2007 to have about 2,300 members,[54] 170 "Raëlian guides",[55] and 41 bishops.[56] Claude Vorilhon has held the highest position for three seven-year terms.[53]

Women-only groups[edit]

Women make up only a third of the membership in the Raëlian Church,[16]:p. 117 though two anecdotes in the Raëlian Contact newsletter report female majorities joining the movement's Asian Mongolian chapter.[57][58] Women such as Brigitte Boisselier, the Chief Executive Officer of Clonaid, play a powerful role in the Raëlian Church. There are two major groups of women in the Raëlian Church.

The Order of Angels, founded in the 1990s, consists of over a hundred Raëlian women who call for femininity and refinement for all of humanity.[59][60] The initiation rites include declaring an oath or making a contract in which one agrees to become defender of the Raëlian ideology and its founder Raël.[61][62] The Order of Angels has its own hierarchy of "rose angels" and "white angels" which, as of 2003, are six and 160 women, respectively.[12] After the Clonaid human cloning claim made the headlines, the Daily Telegraph wrote that members of the order not only provided sexual pleasure for Raël, but also helped donate eggs for efforts towards human cloning.[63] A few days later, Time magazine wrote that French chemist Brigitte Boisselier was an Order of Angels member.[64] Around this time, cult specialist Mike Kropveld called the Order of Angels "one of the most transparent movements" he had witnessed, though he was alarmed by the women's promise to defend Raël's life with their own bodies.[62]

Raël has instructed some women members to play a pro-sex feminist role in the Raëlian Church. "Rael's Girls" is another group of women in the movement which are against the suppression of feminine acts of pleasure, including sexual intercourse with men or women. Rael's Girls solely consists of women who work in the sex industry.[65] In contrast to the teachings of the world's major religions, the women of Rael's Girls say there is no reason to repent for performing striptease or being a prostitute.[65][66] This organization was set up to counteract the influence of the "JC's girls" mission of the Christian ex-stripper Heather Veitch.[67] Rael's Girls and its founder Raël were featured in a pictorial in the October 2004 issue of Playboy.[68]

Rites and practices[edit]

Raëlians drawing with sand

Initiation[edit]

Ceremony[edit]

The major initiation rite in the Raëlian Church is the "baptism" or "transmission of the cellular plan" and is performed by upper-level members in the Raëlian clergy known as guides.[16]:pp. 58–9 In 1979, Raël introduced the "Act of Apostasy" as an obligation for those preparing for their Raëlian baptism.[16]:p. 60[69]

The Raëlian baptism is known as transmission of the cellular plan where "cellular" refers to the organic cells of the body and the "plan" refers to the genetic makeup of the individual. This Raëlian baptism involves a guide member laying water onto the forehead of the new member.[11]:p. 334 The practice began on "the first Sunday in April"[16]:p. 58 of 1976 when Raël baptised 40 Raëlians.[16]:p. 58 Raëlians believe that their genetic information is recorded by a remote computer and would become recognized during their final hour when they will be judged by the extraterrestrial Elohim.[11]:p. 175

Ceremonial dates[edit]

Baptisms can only be performed on four special days in the year. The dates mark anniversaries in the Raëlian calendar.[16]:p. 64

The dates are the 6 August, which marks the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945,[11]:p. 151[11]:p. 151 13 December, marking the day that Raël in 1973 says he had his first personal encounter with one of the extraterrestrial Elohim,[11]:pp. 4, 121–2, 136, 143, 223 7 October in which the Elohim, Raël says, took him up in a spacecraft in 1975 and the following day had meals with Jesus, Buddha, and other past religious figures[11]:pp. 145–178 and the first Sunday in April, which Raëlians believe is the date when dark-skinned extraterrestrials created Adam and Eve.[16]:p. 64[70]

Sensual Meditation (1980), Raël's fifth book about Raëlism.

Sensual Meditation[edit]

Main article: Sensual Meditation

Sensual Meditation is the set of exercises made public by Claude Vorilhon in his book La méditation sensuelle.[71] It is practiced by members of International Raelian Movement (IRM).[71] The first of these exercises is usually taught in Raëlian Seminars.[71]

Other activities, outreach and advocacy[edit]

Throughout the history of Raëlism, members of the Raëlian Church have toured public settings advocating masturbation, condoms and birth control.[63] Raëlians hope that genetically modified food[72]:pp. 35–37 and nanotechnology[72]:pp. 69–74 will allow humankind to eliminate the obligation to work, in a world that embraces science and technology.[11]:p. 156

Raëlians have founded Clonaid, a company that envisions that someday human beings can be scientifically recreated though a process of human cloning, and Clitoraid, an organization whose mission is to oppose female genital mutilation.[73][74]

UFO exhibits[edit]

Raëlian structure members have set up exhibitions about their beliefs of extraterrestrial intelligent designers sending crop circles,[75] UFOs, and spaceships for their arrival at an embassy.[76] While there have been smaller meetings of Raëlians and non-Raëlians, annual Raëlian seminars have been typically larger.[77][78][79]

Seminars[edit]

Raëlian structure members who run the seminars have organized group exercises involving meditation with the senses. James R. Lewis, an authority on fringe religious movements, spoke of Raëlians who practiced a Raëlian exercise called Sensual Meditation and discovered "playing fields" where "radical self-reconstruction," "new forms of authority," and "new modes of self-relating" were encouraged.[80]:p. 133

Music has been a feature of large gatherings, where at night, Raëlians have had multiethnic cabaret performances.[16]:p. 62 Seminarists have used colored bracelets to indicate whether they wanted to be alone, be in a couple, or simply meet people.[81]

On a yearly basis, Raëlian members organize seminars that are often attractive to the sexually adventurous.[82] News KNBC called the annual Raëlian seminars "a cross between a nudist camp and new-age retreat."[39] A Spanish television agency reported Raëlian men and women in cross-dressing plays.[61] Activities such as observations of one's own private parts and masturbation with them disturbed Brigitte McCann, a Calgary Sun reporter who entered one of the Raëlian seminars.[83] Susan J. Palmer said a French journalist went to a Raëlian Seminar in 1991 and taped couples having sexual intercourse in tents. These tapes gained widespread negative publicity—with news stories that described these practices as perverted and a form of brainwashing.[84] The tents were actually put up for the privacy of attendees whom were sharing dormitories and the person was ejected by the Raelians for misrepresentation for the sake of sensationalism of their so-called research, so called infiltration is encouraged by the Raelians to clear up myths perpetrated by the media and rogue researches.

A Raëlian protest sign is raised at political rally demanding the return of U.S. troops

Activism[edit]

Raëlians routinely advocate sex-positive feminism and genetically modified food. They also have protested against wars and the Catholic Church.

Pro-GMO: On 6 August 2003, the first day of Raëlian year 58 AH,[85] a tech article on the USA Today newspaper mentions an "unlikely ally" of the Monsanto Company, the Raëlian Movement of Brazil. The movement gave vocal support in response to the company's support for genetically modified organisms particularly in their country. Brazilian farmers have been using Monsanto's genetically engineered soy plant as well as the Roundup herbicide to which it was artificially adapted. The Raëlians spoke against the Brazilian government's ban on GMOs.[86]

Raëlian women at the Seoul Korea Love Hug Festival

Anti-war: In 2006, About 30 Raëlians, some topless, took part in an anti-war demonstration in Seoul, Korea.[87] In 2003, Raëlians in white alien costumes bore signs bearing the message "NO WAR ... ET wants Peace, too!" to protest the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.[88]

Topless rights of women: Several Raëlian groups in the United States have organized annual protests, claiming that women should have the same legal right to go topless in public that men enjoy without fear of arrest for indecent exposure.[89] This is known as topfreedom. Some have called this a publicity stunt designed to recruit members. Go Topless Day is their annual event, with women protesting topless except for nipple pasties to avoid arrest. It is held near 26 August, the anniversary of the day women were given the USA right to vote.[90]

Anti-Catholic: In 1992 Catholic schools in Montreal, Canada objected to a proposed condom vending machine as contrary to their mission. In response, Raëlian guides, in an event dubbed "Operation Condom", gave the Catholic students ten thousand condoms. The Commissioner of Catholic schools for Montreal said they could do nothing to stop them.[84][91]

In July 2001, Raëlians on the streets attracted Italians and Swiss people as they gave leaflets protesting the existence of over a hundred child molesters among Roman Catholic clergy in France. They recommended that parents should not send their children to Catholic confession. The Episcopal vicar of Geneva sued the Raëlian Church for libel but did not win.[16]:p. 91[92] The judge did not accept the charges for the reason that the Raëlians were not attacking the whole of the Catholic Church.[16]:p. 91 In October 2002, Raëlians in a Canadian anti-clerical parade held handed out Christian crosses to high school students. They were invited to burn the crosses in a park not far from Montreal's Mount Royal and to sign letters of apostasy from the Roman Catholic Church. The Quebec Association of Bishops called this "incitement to hatred", and several school boards attempted to prevent their students from meeting Raëlians.[16]:p. 92

Converts from other religions[edit]

Raëlians do not believe in a god (or other deity), but in extraterrestrials.[12][93] Former clergy of mainstream religions have joined the Raëlian Church, especially in Quebec.[37][94][95] The structure of the movement had promoted some of them to the level of Priest or Bishop due to "extensive Bible training and teaching skills".[94]

Two ex-Roman Catholic Priests, Victor Legendre[95] and Charles-Yvan Giroux[96] converted to Raëlianism.[11] A former bishop of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) joined the Raelian Movement so he could be openly gay.[37] The Raëlian, Mark Woodgate, stated that 8% of Raëlians worldwide are former Latter-day Saints. Religiously mixed couples are common, especially with spouses who are Christians or Buddhists.[7]

Intentional controversy[edit]

Further information: Clonaid

Susan J. Palmer, a sociologist from Canada, has studied the movement since 1987[97] and says the movement intentionally stirs a moderate level of controversy to maintain membership. For example, Rael and the group attempt to tie their views with topical matters, ranging from Tiger Woods' promiscuity to strained relations in the Middle East, in regular online postings[98] and press releases.[99] This view is shared by Mike Kropveld—the executive director of an anti-cult organization with the name Info-Cult—who says the controversy leads to criticism by both religious and non-religious people.[62]

Raëlian organizers made deliberate attempts to "shock, titillate, and capture the media's imagination".[100]:p. 371 The book Yes to Human Cloning (2001) attracted media attention after its release, including segments on 20/20 and 60 Minutes.[101]:p. 156 Biophysicist Gregory Stock described the Raëlian Clonaid project as "sufficiently quirky to command instant media attention."[102]:p. 157 It has been estimated that the group received free publicity worth US$500 million as a result of the Clonaid claim.[103]:p. 15 Mark Hunt, a lawyer and politician who wished to clone his dead son with the help of the Clonaid services, was overwhelmed by the height of the media attention and in an interview said that Clonaid's chief executive had become a "press hog".[104]:p. 170[105]:p. 283[106]:356

Raëlians asking to stop the prohibition of Raël's entry into Korea

Beliefs[edit]

A passerby meets a Raëlian at a booth in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Theologian of new religious movements, George D. Chryssides, described the Raëlian Church as being in an "early developmental stage" and that their beliefs distance it from a "dominant intellectual climate".[107]:p. 46 Raëlism claims that all life on Earth, humans included, was created scientifically by Elohim, members of an extraterrestrial race who appeared similar to small humans and so were often depicted as angels,[11]:pp. 308–14 cherubs,[11]:pp. 49–50 or gods.[11]:pp. 153–6 Raëlians, who are not monotheists, believe the correct historical meaning of the word Elohim is the plural sense, "those who came from the sky". Belief in extraterrestrial Elohim play a central part in Clonaid's claim of offering cloning services for homosexual and infertile couples who want a child cloned from a partner's DNA.[108]:470

Chryssides states that Raëlism is discernible from other UFO religions for its heavy support for physicalism and repudiation of supernaturalism.[107]:p. 21 Susan J. Palmer, a social scholar who had long contacts with Raëlians, associated epiphenomenalism[16]:p. 23 with the belief in Raëlism that mind transfer coupled with human cloning can implant mind and personality into a new and disease free body.[11]:p. 167 Raëlians publicly deny the existence of the ethereal soul and a supernatural god,[93] but they believe that humanity for many generations past will be resurrected, albeit in a scientific way.[11]:p. 171

Raëlians believe that throughout the ages, members of the Elohim civilization sent different prophets, including Moses, Jesus, Buddha and many others whose role was guide humanity and to prepare humans for the future, all of whom were created as a result of a sexual union between a human woman and one of the Elohim. To Raëlians, this was possible because the Elohim had advanced DNA synthesis and genetic engineering. The Elohim later reduced the frequent visits so that humans were largely left to progress on their own, until the time of the Apocalypse/Revelation when they would send their final messenger and disclose themselves at an extraterrestrial embassy, establishing political and economic ties.

Raëlians believe that sex is a normal, natural and healthy part of life and encourages people to be true to their natural sexuality.[109] They promote healing from damaging messages from strict puritanical belief systems and social stigmas that stifle one's natural sexuality. Acceptance of masturbation, homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, naturism and any legal, safe and consensual adult activity is promoted as part of a healthy and long life, and this is used to attract young converts to the religion.[110] Raelians believe that sexuality is a gift of pleasure to mankind from the Elohim.[111] The Raëlian book Let's Welcome our Fathers From Space says that new advanced extraterrestrial civilizations will ultimately practice a final religion or "religion of the infinite" that involves ubiquitous practice of Sensual Meditation.[11]:p. 248

According to Giancarlo Genta and Jason Colavito, writers who have influenced Raëlian beliefs include Zechariah Sitchin and Erich von Däniken.[112]:p. 231[113]:p. 320

Voluntarism[edit]

Raëlians are encouraged to do as they feel right, whether that matches the rules of the culture in which they live or not. According to Susan J. Palmer, a majority of loosely affiliated Raëlian Movement members have often strayed from following rules concerning "diet, drugs, and sexual activity" as described in the Raëlian books. Sometimes, they will not attend monthly meetings or pay a tithe in proportion to their income. Only the more committed members who do follow such rules can remain in the movement's structure.[16]:p. 58

According to Michel Beluet, the former director of a Raëlian-built museum called UFOland, the only pressure exerted on members is to attend annual Raëlian seminars, which allows members convinced of Raël's enthusiasm to voluntarily tithe.[16]:p. 209 Palmer cited Raël, who claimed that more than 60% of the Raëlian Movement's members do not tithe.[16]:p. 64 Dawson College students conducted a survey of the membership in Canada 1991 which found that only one-third of respondents tithed.[16]:p. 209

Human cloning[edit]

As opposed to the scientific definition of reproductive cloning which is simply the creation of a genetically identical living thing, Raëlians seek to both genetically clone individuals, rapidly accelerate growth of the clone to adulthood through a process like guided self-assembly of rapidly expanded cells or even nanotechnology[72]:pp. 35–37[114] and then transfer the mind and personality of the donor into the clone.[11]:p. 366 Raëlians believe humanity can attain eternal life through the science of cloning.[72]:pp. 35–37

In the final stages of development, hitherto unknown information contained within undamaged DNA would be enough to bring others back from the dead[11]:p. 167 including their memories and personality.[115]:pp. 47,78[116] This would be done by taking a small sample from someone's body and preserving it at the time when the level of the brain's efficiency and knowledge is highest. On the day of death, a cell would be taken from the sample for the cloning to take place, and the memories and personality would be restored to their peak level.[11]:p. 109

Claude Vorilhon told lawmakers that banning the development of human cloning was comparable to outlawing medical advances such "antibiotics, blood transfusions, and vaccines."[84]

Clonaid[edit]

Raël founded Valiant Venture Ltd Corporation in 1997, to research human cloning. The company name was later changed to Clonaid and handed over to Raëlian bishop, Brigitte Boisselier in 2000.[8] In 2002, Brigitte Boisselier, as chief executive of Clonaid, claimed that a human baby was conceived through cloning technology.[64] Around this time, Clonaid's subsidiary BioFusion Tech claimed to have in possession a cell fusion device that assisted the cloning of human embryos.[117] The Vatican said that experimenters expressed "brutal mentality" for attempting to clone human beings.[118] Pope John Paul II criticized the experiment which he believes threatens the dignity of human life.[119] In response, the leader of the Raëlian Church dismissed the Pope's ethical concerns, calling them an "accumulation of religious prejudices."[118]

In response to Raël's association with Clonaid, South Korean immigration authorities at the airport denied him entry into their country in 2003.[34] This decision led to the quick cancellation of the planned Raëlian seminar which seven hundred registered for. Raëlians of South Korea were instructed by Raël to protest near the Ministry of Health and Welfare that ordered him to leave.[34][120] Officials detained Raël for nine hours at Incheon International Airport before he and his wife Sophie de Niverville left for Tokyo from where they would take another plane on their way back to Canada. Raël responded by saying that Korean officials treated him like a "North Korean" and that he would wait for an apology before coming back to Korea.[120]

Woman on bed adorned with Raëlian symbol

Ethics[edit]

LGBT issues[edit]

The Raelian movement defends the rights and freedoms of gays and lesbians, recognises gay marriage and ordains gay clergy.[121] Some Raelian leaders have performed licensed same-sex marriages.[122]

Sensuality and pleasure[edit]

According to the book Maitreya by Claude Vorilhon, love involves experiencing different varieties and possibilities that allow one to break habits in order to make life more pleasant and interesting[123]:pp. 19,71,99,182,251 and that it is the only thing which can stop war and injustice that persists in today's world.[123]:pp. 18,165 Raëlians believe in the right to form new religions or new political parties as long as they do not promote violence.[123]:pp. 137–41,165 As individualists, Raëlians believe that the one who gives the order to harm others is less at fault than the one who executes it.[11]:p. 321

Raëlians say they encourage adult homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual relationships and that society should recognize them legally.[124] Some Swiss government authorities responded to Raëlians' views about Sensual Meditation with a fear that Raëlians are a threat to public morals for supporting liberalized sex education for children. They express the view that such liberalized sex education teaches youngsters how to obtain sexual gratification which would encourage sexual abuse of underage children.[125]

Views on pedophilia[edit]

Sexual predators and guides who force missionary ideas against members are excommunicated by the Raëlian Church for a minimum of seven years—the amount of time Raëlians believe it takes for all of a person's biological cells to be regenerated.[16]:p. 63 In 2006 Raëlians in Los Angeles, California condemned acts of pedophilia which Raelians consider a disease, particularly those associated with celibate Catholic priests, saying that minors and adults should not be mixed in the act of sex.[126] Authorities of the Swiss canton of Valais claimed that Raëlians support a doctrine of "complete sexual liberty", and they denied an application by Raël to live in their area.[125] The website Raelianews.org denied that sexual freedom between consenting adults in any way implies pedophilia.[127]

Raëlian cosmology

Structure of the Universe[edit]

Raëlian cosmology as proposed in 1973 by Raël states that the observable universe has no creator and is infinite in time and finite in size and surrounded by infinite space.[11]:pp. 211

In Raëlian cosmology, our observable universe is an "atom" of a much larger level of matter (and possibly organism) and subatomic particles in our bodies also possess universes like our own, but on a much smaller scale. This pattern, atom within universe within atom, is believed to be infinitely repetitive, from the infinitely small, to the infinitely large.[11]:pp. 211 The Raëlian Messages by Raël state that humanoid extraterrestrials, who were originally called under the name Elohim (singular: Eloha), verified this cosmology scientifically.[11]:pp. 153–155

Because of the difference of mass, the activity of life inside in a living thing's atoms would undergo many millennia before enough time passes for that living thing to take a single step. Raëlians believe the universe is infinite in time and space and lacks a center. Because of this, one could not imagine where an ethereal soul would go.[11]:pp. 153–155

The Raëlian cosmology is meditated upon during the fourth activity in the rite of Sensual Meditation.

Intelligent Design[edit]

Puy de Lassolas

Creation of life on Earth by extraterrestrials[edit]

In his book The Message Given to me by Extraterrestrials (now republished as Intelligent Design: Message from the Designers 2006 ISBN 2-940252-20-3), Claude Vorilhon claims that on 13 December 1973, he found a spacecraft shaped like a flattened bell that landed inside Puy de Lassolas, a volcano near the capital city of Auvergne. A 25,000-year-old human-like extraterrestrial inside the spacecraft named Yahweh said that Elohim was the name that primitive people of Earth called members of his extraterrestrial race—who were seen as "those who came from the sky". Yahweh explained that Earth was originally void of life, with thick clouds and shallow seas, but the Elohim came, broke apart the clouds, exposed the seas to sunlight, built a continent, and synthesized a global ecosystem. Solar astronomy, terraformation, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering allowed Elohim to adapt life to Earth's thermal and chemical makeup.[11]:pp. 11–15

Yahweh gave materialistic explanations of the following:

  • Garden of Eden: a large laboratory that was based on an artificially constructed continent[11]:p. 279
  • Noah's Ark: a spaceship that preserved DNA that was used to resurrect animals through cloning[11]:pp. 20–22[11]:pp. 240–242,280,332
  • the Tower of Babel: a rocket that was supposed to reach the creators' planet;[11]:p. 22
  • the Great Flood: the byproduct of a nuclear missile explosion that the Elohim sent.[11]:p. 20 After tidal wave floods following the explosions receded, Elohim scattered the Israelites and had them speak the language of other tribes.[11]:pp. 22,23

According to Vorilhon, Elohim contacted about forty people to act as their prophets on Earth,[11]:p. 165 including Moses,[11]:pp. 114,312,324 Elijah,[11]:p. 114 Ezekiel,[11]:pp. 45–53 Buddha,[11]:pp. 89,312,324 John the Baptist,[11]:pp. 293–306 Jesus,[11]:pp. 114,312,324 Muhammad,[11]:pp. 89,312,324 and Joseph Smith.[11]:pp. 89,312 The religions thought to be from Elohimic origins include Judaism,[11]:p. 114 Buddhism,[11]:p. 89 Christianity,[11]:p. 114 Islam,[11]:p. 89 and Mormonism.[11]:p. 89

From the Raëlian point of view, religious texts indicate that the Elohim would return at the age of Apocalypse or Revelation (unveiling of the truth). Humans from another world would appear to drop down from the sky and meet in the embassy they have asked Raël to build for them and share their advanced scientific knowledge with humanity. Thus, one of their stated main goals of the Raëlian movement is to inform as many people as possible about this extraterrestrial race.[128]

Humanity's chance of creating life on other planets[edit]

Raëlians believe that humanity would be able to create life on other planets only if humanity is peaceful enough to stop war. In that case, humanity could travel the distances between stars[11]:p. 159 and create life on another planet.[11]:p. 70 Progress in terraforming, molecular biology,[11]:p. 293 and cloning would enable these teams to create continents and life from scratch.[11]:p. 50 Progress in social engineering would ensure that this creation would have a better chance of both surviving and having the potential to understand its creators.[11]:p. 153 Research on how civilization would occur on another planet would allow scientists to decide what traces of their origin should be left behind so that their role in life creation would someday be revealed.[11]:p. 280 The progress achieved by the science teams would ultimately sustain a perpetual chain of life.[11]:p. 91

A coming judgment[edit]

Raëlians do not believe that an ethereal soul exists free of physical confinement.[11]:pp. 154–155 Raëlians believe that advanced supercomputers of the Elohim are right now recording the memories and DNA of human beings.[11]:p. 171 When Elohim release this information for the coming resurrection, people would be brought back from the dead and the judgments upon them would be realized based on actions in their past life. People excluded from physical recreation would include those who achieved nothing positive but were not evil.[11]:p. 214 Vorilhon expressed an interest in cloning Hitler for war trials and retroactive punishment.[129] Raël also mentioned cloning as the solution to terrorism by suicide attacks, as the perpetrators would not be able to escape punishment by killing themselves if the Elohim recreated them after their attacks.[116]

Embassy for Extraterrestrials[edit]

Raëlians believe that life on Earth—as well as many religions of the world—was the work of extraterrestrial influence. They believe these were scientists and that ancient people saw them as "gods" and gave the name "Elohim".[11]:p. 370[130] Raëlians believe that the Embassy for Extraterrestrials or "Third Temple"[131][132][133] is to support an official contact with Extraterrestrial Elohim and their messengers of the main religions at the "New Jerusalem".[131][134]

The Raëlian Embassy for Extraterrestrials is the vision of the International Raëlian Movement to establish an embassy, at a base cost of $20 million, with a landing pad that would serve as spaceport for extraterrestrial spaceships. The funding of the embassy has been reported over time by the media.[13][135][136] Its location is intended to be in neutral territory, preferably Jerusalem, and would be surrounded by acres of campground capable of supporting about 144,000 people[11] or more than twice the estimated Raëlian membership as of 2005.[40]

On 16 April 1987, the Chicago Sun-Times estimated the funding for the "cosmic kibbutz" at $1 million. In 1997-1998, the funding had risen to $7 million.[24][108]:p. 467[135][137] By 2001, $9 million had been saved for the embassy,[16]:p. 64 and in October, the funding had reached $20 million.[136]

Tent version of the Embassy for Extraterrestrial Elohim for use in a Raëlian seminar in Colombia, South America (1/4 the width, 1/4 the length, and half the height of the proposed embassy)

Proposed architecture and location[edit]

The International Raëlian Movement envisions having an entrance with an aseptic chamber leading to a conference room for twenty-one people as well as a dining room of the same capacity.[138] In the plan are seven rooms for the purpose of receiving human guests into the embassy. The embassy building, along with the swimming pool, would be in the center of a large park and protected from trespassing by a wall−a maximum of two stories-to surround the entire complex's circumference. Trees and bushes are to be planted in the outskirts of the wall's area. The walls are to have a northern and southern entrance. The landing pad for the embassy should be able fit a spaceship of twelve meters of diameter or 39'4" on its terrace. The terrace is to be above the rooms in the torus, which are for extraterrestrials only. The seven rooms directly underneath the landing pad would be protected from occupants of other rooms with a thick metal door. Finally, the International Raëlian Movement wants to avoid military and radar surveillance of the airspace above the embassy. Buildings for administration, food and water provisions, and state-of-the-art sanitation and communication systems are part of this vision.[138] A nearby replica of the Raëlian Embassy for Extraterrestrials open to the public is expected to show visitors what it is like inside the real one.[11]:p. 370

On 13 December 1997, the leader of the International Raëlian Movement had decided to extend the possibility of building the embassy outside of Jerusalem and also allow that a significant portion of the embassy property be covered with water. The area of the proposed embassy property is still envisioned at a minimum of 3.47 square kilometers, with a radius of at least 1.05 kilometers.[139]

The book cover of Rael's book Geniocracy: Government of the People, for the People, by the Geniuses (Printed for the first time in English: 2008 Nova Distribution.)

A form of meritocracy[edit]

In his book Geniocracy, Raël outlined his plan for a peaceful worldwide political union that, while democratic, would require members of the electorate to meet a minimum standard of intelligence. The thresholds proposed by the Raëlians are 50% above average for a candidate and 10% above average for a voter.[115]:pp. 17–20 The world government would also have a global currency, a common language, and a transformation of militaries of the world into civil police.[11]:p. 100

Raelians deride the current state-system as inadequate for dealing with contemporary global issues that are typical of Globalisation, such as Environmentalism, Social Justice, Human Rights, and the current economic system. In line with this, Geniocracy proposes a different economic model called Humanitarianism.[115]

Raël recommends a world government with 12 regions. Inhabitants would vote for which region they want to be part of. After the regions are defined, they are further divided into 12 sectors after the same principle of democracy is applied. While sectors of the same region are defined as having equal numbers of inhabitants, the regions themselves may have different levels of population, which would be proportional to its voting power.[115]

Status[edit]

The current difficulty in the ideas of Geniocracy is that the means of assessing intelligence are ill-defined. One idea offered by Rael in Geniocracy is to have specialists such as psychologists, neurologists, ethnologists, etc., perfect or choose among existing ones, a series of tests that would define each person's level of intelligence. They should be designed to measure intellectual potential rather than accumulation of knowledge.

The lack of scientific rigour necessary for inclusion of Geniocracy as properly testable political ideology can be noted in number of modern and historical dictatorships as well as oligarchies. Because of the controversies surrounding Geniocracy, Raël presents the idea as a classic utopia or provocative ideal and not necessarily a model that humanity will follow.[12]

In Raël's book, Extraterrestrials took me to their planet, Raël claims that an extraterrestrial gave him the idea of Economic Humanitarianism. Under the establishment of Economic Humanitarianism, people would not have ownership of businesses or exploitable goods created by others. Instead, people would rent each of them for a period of 49 years. The founders would be able to receive the rents for up to 49 years or when they die, which ever is later. Any rents not inherited by relatives after 49 years would go to the State.[11]:p. 98 By balancing inheritances, children would be born with enough financial means to forsake menial tasks for endeavors that may benefit the whole of humanity. Family houses could be inherited from generation to generation, free of rent.[11]:p. 97

In his much later book, Maitreya, Raël says the road to a world without money is capitalism and globalisation, as opposed to communism. Capitalism would allow those who contribute much to society to also contribute to its scientific and technological development. Under capitalism, society would produce as much money as it can. The money would become important in the short run as nanotechnology quickly lowers the cost of goods while putting many people out of work.[123]:pp. 217–8

Religious symbol[edit]

The Raëlian symbol with the swastika (left) and the alternative version (right)

Raelians believe in reclaiming the swastika by restoring its historical meaning as a symbol of peace and good luck.[140][140] Swastika has been used for millennia in the East as a religious symbol of peace and harmony.

In 1991, a Montreal anti-cult organization called Info-Cult made statements against the Raëlian Church with an article on Le Devoir, branding Raëlians as promoters of fascism and racism,[84] due to the church's use of the swastika as part of their logo and the Raëlian description of an extraterrestrial global government in which those less than ten percent above average intelligence are excluded from the electorate.[115] Outside Info-Cult's office, Raëlians spoke against the act of discriminating against a religious minority.[84] On 2 January 1992, a dozen people protested against the use of the swastika in the Raëlian logo in Miami's Eden Roc Hotel. The use of the swastika and other Raelian practices has led to criticism from the group Hineni of Florida, a Jewish anti-cult organization.[141]

In February 1991, the Raëlian Church modified their symbol. The official reason given was a request from the Elohim to change the symbol in order to help in negotiations with Israel for the building of the Extraterrestrial Embassy to greet the anticipated Elohim space vessels, although the country continued to deny their request.[22] In 2005, the Israeli Raëlian Guide Kobi Drori stated that the Lebanese government was discussing proposals by the Raëlian movement to build their interplanetary embassy in Lebanon. However, one condition was that the Raëlians not display their logo on top of the building because it mixes a swastika and a Star of David. According to Drori, the Raëlians involved declined this offer, as they wished to keep the symbol as is.[142] From 1991 to 2007, the official Raëlian symbol in Europe and America did not have the original swastika, but Raël, founder and leader of the Raëlian Movement decided to make the original symbol, the Star of David intertwined with a swastika, the only official symbol of the Raelian Movement worldwide.[143]

Reception[edit]

The anti-cult organization Info-Cult claimed that Geniocracy was a fascist ideology.[84] In 1995, a parliamentary commission issued a report through the National Assembly of France that categorized the Raelian Movement (Mouvement Raëlien) as a "secte"[144] (French word for cult). In 1997, a parliamentary inquiry commission issued a report through the Belgian Chamber of Representatives that categorized the Belgian Raelian Movement (Mouvement Raëlien Belge) as a sect.[145] Glenn McGee, the associate director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Virginia, states that part of the sect is a cult while the other part is a commercial website that collects large sums of money from those interested in human cloning.[146] The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the United States Department of State[147] and sociologist Susan J. Palmer[16]:pp. 1–3 have classified the International Raëlian Movement as a religion.

In 2005, two Wired News reporters were welcomed into a Raëlian seminar and had permission to videotape it. They believe the footage they took makes it clear that the Raelian Movement is a cult which should disband. A Raëlian guide said in a Wired interview that he is not ashamed of what is shown and that he has no concerns about this incident.[148][149]

The estranged former wife of Vorilhon characterised him as a 'cult leader' and claimed he brought groups of female Raëlians home and held orgies which affected the children from an early age.[150]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Cited texts[edit]

External links[edit]

Official sites
Other