The Raelian Movement

The Raelian Movement International (Raelian Religion in Canada), is the largest UFO “religion”in the world, currently numbering around 45,000 members with branches in 52 countries. It was founded by a Frenchman, Claude Vorilhon (“Rael”) in 1976. Vorilhon (b. 1946) wrote in Le livre qui dit la verité (1974) about his encounter with an extraterrestrial during a walk in the volcanic Clermont-Ferrand mountain range. This “eloha”(from the planet of the Elohim) gave Vorilhon his name—Rael—and taught him the true meaning of the Bible. Humans were “implanted” on earth by a team of Elohim scientists that created us in laboratories from their own DNA matter.

Rael was chosen as the messenger of the Elohim to warn humanity that,since the explosion at Hiroshima, we have entered the “Age of Apocalypse,”in which we confront the choice of destroying ourselves through nuclear war, or learning to live in peace and tolerance and preparing to welcome our forefathers from space. Originally, Rael founded MADECH (Mouvement pour Accueil des Createurs de l’Humanite) in 1974,which resembled a contactee circle.In 1976 there was a schism from whence the Raelian Movement, a full-fledged new religious movement,issued.In 1975 Rael wrote of his second encounter in They Took Me to Their Planet and described his journey to the nameless planet of the Elohim,where he was taught the sensual meditation technique and observed his own body being re-created from DNA in a vat.

He also studied their system of government,the “geniocracy,”or rule of the most intelligent,which were chosen for leadership on the basis of intelligence tests.Upon his return Rael instructed his followers in sensual meditation, a sensory-awareness exercise believed to enhance telepathy and harmony with the universe and to stimulate the growth of new brain cells.He also attempted to found a political party in France, La Geniocratie,but after weathering intense investigations and searches by the gendarme he abandoned the project.

The symbol of the movement is the swastika inside the Star of David, worn by members on a medallion. The Raelians do not believe in a god or an immortal soul;rather,they believe in an infinite progression of human scientists,who have achieved a relative immortality through cloning and travel throughout the universe creating life from DNA. Human beings who have made outstanding contributions to humanity (even non-Raelians) may be judged worthy to be re-created.

Rael has prophesied that the Elohim will return to earth sometime before the year 2035,if humanity fulfills the two goals of the movement: spreading the message,and building the embassy to welcome the 39 prophets and extraterrestrial scientists, who will then bequeath to their creations their wealth of scientific knowledge. The Raelians participate in four annual festivals that commemorate Rael’s various encounters and revelations. The initiation ritual, or baptism ceremony,is performed on these occasions as the “transmission of the cellular plan.”Rael or one of his bishops will dip his hand in water and place it on the initiate’s forehead in order to transmit their genetic code to the Elohim’s machines,where it is stored for the future cloning process, if the aspirant is deemed worthy.

The initiate must also make out a will designating the Raelian Movement as beneficiary and sign a contract with a local mortician so that their “third eye” (a chunk of frontal bone considered and essential ingredient for the re-creation process) can be cut out upon their demise, packed in ice, and stored in a bank vault in Switzerland. Raelians are also advised to practice sensual meditation to a tape on a daily basis,and newcomers have the opportunity to try out the oxygenation and guided-relaxation stages ofthe meditation at the monthly meetings.

There are two levels of membership: the Raelians,who are loosely affiliated baptized members, representing many degrees of commitment and engagement; and the Structure leadership, who form a pyramid,descending from Rael who is the Guide of Guides, through the Bishop Guides, the Priest Guides,the Animators,the Assistant Animators, and the Probationers at the bottom. A Council of the Wise controls heresy and sanctions rule-breakers.All Raelians are expected to pay 10 percent oftheir income toward the construction of the embassy,but this rule is not enforced.In order to maintain a pure genetic code,Raelians are not permitted to drink alcohol or caffeine,smoke cigarettes,or use recreational drugs; they tend toward vegetarianism and health food.

The pursuit of sexual pleasure with many partners ofboth sexes and all races is emphasized in the movement,and the marriage contract is rejected as oppressive. Birth control and precautions against sexually transmitted diseases are taught,and members ofthe Structure rarely breed. Rael founded FIREPHIM (International Federation of Minority Religions and Philosophies),an organization dedicated to fighting “religious racism,” and the Raelians regularly Demonstrate against intolerance by participating in gay marches,by protesting racism and sexism,and by Demonstrating outside anticult headquarters.

In 1997 Rael (in the wake of the publicity surrounding the cloning of Dolly the sheep),set up Valiant Venture, a cloning company that for an investment of $250,000 and up promised to offer CLONAID as soon as that technology became available. The Raelians have constructed a museum of ufological lore in Valcourt, Quebec, for the purpose of fundraising for the eventual building of the Embassy; they have also founded a monastic order for women,Rael’s Angels,in training to be the hostesses,companions,and lovers of the Elohim and Prophets and breeders of a new race of “giants of old.” Controversies surrounding the movement have focused on their freewheeling sexual mores,rejection of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, the swastika symbol, and the utopian ideal of a geniocracy.

However, because the Raelians do not live communally, are not sectarian, and have a history of defending their rights through lawsuits and public Demonstrations, they have weathered media attacks and persecution in France (in the wake of the Solar Temple tragedy) with remarkable equanimity. —Susan J.Palmer


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  • Palmer,Susan J.“The Raelians Are Coming:The Future of a UFO Religion.”In Religion in a Changing World. Edited by Madeleine Cousineau.Westport CT: Praeger,1998,pp.139–146.
  • ———.“Woman as Playmate in the Raelian Movement: Power and Pantagamy in a New Religion.”Syzygy: Journal ofAlternative Religion and Culture1(3) (1992):227–245.
  • ———.“Women in the Raelian Movement:New Religious Experiments in Gender and Authority.”In The Gods Have Landed:New Religions From Other Worlds. Edited by James Lewis.New York:State University ofNew York Press,1995,pp.105–136.
  • Vallee,Jacques.Revelations:Alien Contact and Human Deception.New York:Ballantine Books,1991.
  • Vorilhon,Claude (Rael).Let’s Welcome Our Fathers from Space:They Created Humanity in Their Laboratories. Tokyo:AOM Corporation,1986.
  • ———. “Real”Space Aliens Took Me to their Planet. Waduz,Lichtenstein:Face,1975.


UFOs and Popular Culture – An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth
Written by : James R. Lewis – Copyright © 2000 by James R.Lewis