The Raelian Religion
by Marty Butz
Founder: Rael (formerly Claude Vorilhon)
Founding Date: 1973
Official Publications: "Apocalypse" (a quarterly magazine), The
Book Which Tells the Truth, The Message Given to Me by Extra-Terrestrials,
Beings From Outer Space Took Me to their Planet, Sensual Meditation.
Organizational Structure: There are six levels of responsibility within
the movement. The sixth level, the highest, is occupied by Rael, Claude
Vorilhon, the "Guide of Guides."
Unique Terms: Elohim, Harmony, Awaken, Cosmic Orgasm
According to claims by the Raelian Religion, "On the 13th of December 1973,
French journalist Claude Vorilhon (now called Rael) was contacted by a
visitor from an other planet, and asked to establish an embassy to welcome
these people back to Earth. The extra-terrestrial was about four feet in
height, had long black hair, almond shaped eyes, olive skin and exuded
harmony and humor. He told Rael that 'we were the ones who made all life
on earth, you mistook us for Gods, we were at the origin of your main religions.
Now that you are mature enough to understand this, we would like to enter
official contact through an embassy'" <http://www.rael.org/English/e-digest/raelmsgB.html>.
In the days following, Vorilhon-Rael (Rael being the name given to him
by the space visitor) allegedly "received commentaries on the most significant
parts of the Bible" (Jacques Vallee, Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts
and Cults, p. 143). These teachings by the extra-terrestrial and notes
taken by Rael were later published in his book, The Messages Given to
Me by Extra-Terrestrials (see: <http://www.rael.org/English/e-digest/realmsgindex.html>).
It is also claimed that Rael was visited a second time two years after
his first visitation, again in France. However, this time the space visitors
took Rael aboard their space ship to the planet where they lived.
Faithful to his commission, Rael has established a movement to spread
the message of the Elohim and to build an embassy to welcome the extra-terrestrials
back to earth. The message in large part explains who the Elohim are and
how life on Earth came to be. Also, it is important for the embassy to
be built in order for the Elohim to return to earth and share their scientific
expertise. It has been revealed that the Elohim "will only come when we
build their embassy, such is their love and respect for us" <http://www.rael.org/English/e-digest/raelmsgF.html>.
Despite the bizarre message of Rael, the Raelian Religion, from its
beginning in 1973, has found a large following since he first had the alleged
extra-terrestrial encounters. His movement within the last year has claimed
35,000 followers in 85 countries (New York Times, August 12, 1997,
p. A6) and his book, The Message Given to Me By Extra-Terrestrials,
has been translated into over 22 languages (PRNewswire, May 21, 1997).
The movement has not only been fueled by books that Rael has authored,
but also by various seminars around the world which have helped to promote
the movement. "Awakening Seminars" have introduced many to the "Sensual
Meditation" techniques that presumably "our parents from space taught Rael"
The stated effect and purpose of these techniques is 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 societies [sic] guilt" <http://www.rael.org/English/e-digest/raelmsgZX.html>.
Ostensibly, these techniques are related to what has been reported as the
main tenants of the movement: "masturbation, communal orgasm, sexual freedom
and pleasure." (Reuters New Service, August 6, 1997).
Along with the Raelian Religion's growth, controversy over the movement's
ideas and practices has grown as well.
As early as "the late 1970's, when he [Rael] published a book advocating
rule by what he called geniocracy, the French government conducted a series
of raids on Raelian homes, prompting Rael to leave the country" (The
Gazette [Montreal], July 22, 1991, p. A4). Apparently, Rael's published
opinion regarding "geniocracy," by which he understands "government by
the intelligent, with intelligence determined by. scientific tests" (Ibid.),
aroused suspicions of French authorities about ulterior political objectives
of the Raelian Religion.
There have also been continual concerns about the official symbol of
the Raelian Religion, the symbol of the Star of David with the Swastika
symbol inside it. The Raelians have explained that its symbolic value is
quite different from that of Nazism, representing infinity. However, to
many in the "post Nazi western culture it represents something else" (John
Hughes, Sun-Sentinel [Miami], December 20, 1989, p. E1).
Over the years, the Raelian Religion has specifically tried to convert
Jews and establish the Elohim embassy in Jerusalem. Since the "Raelians
believe that the ancient Israelites had a special covenant with Earth's
creator" and since they "believe that the destruction of the world is near,"
the Raelians also believe that "the state of Israel must grant Raelians
land in Jerusalem on which to build an embassy to welcome the aliens" (Gazette,
p. A4). However, given that the Swastika has been so offensive to Jews
specifically, and that Jews have claim to their own special relationship
with the Creator, these stated goals of the Raelian Religion have also
The Raelian Religion has not been unaware or unconcerned about public
relations problems. In 1991, "Rael decided to change the symbol of the
Raelian Religion and replace the swastika with a galaxy..." <http://www.rael.org/English/e-digest/raelmsgZA.html>.
This was done, not only "out of respect for victims of the Nazi holocaust,"
but also for a very practical reason - to "facilitate the building of the
Embassy in Israel." (Ibid.).
Perhaps feeling the pressure of controversy and scrutiny, the Raelian
Religion in 1992 joined forces and became publicly associated with other
reputed cults in establishing the International Federation of Religious
and Philosophical Minorities (abbreviated as "Firephim" in French). Firephim
became a consortium of minority religions organized to fight "religious
persecution." Besides the Raelians, participant organizations included
such controversial movements as the Church
of Scientology, the Unification Church,
Jehovah's Witnesses, and Satanists,
among others (Wellspring Messenger, July/August 1994, p. 2).
The Raelian Religion's active association with other controversial organizations
was underscored in the past year when Rael himself "expressly requested
that over 500 Raelians participate" in Germany in a demonstration for religious
freedom "organized by the Church of Scientology" (Business Wire,
Oct. 24, 1997), an organization which is closely monitored and held under
suspicion by the German government. Meanwhile, other government authorities
in Switzerland have been said to be "closely monitoring the [Raelian] movement,"
fearing that "the risk of collective suicide exists" (Reuters).
CREATOR: According to the Raelians, humanity's true creators or
"parents" came from another planet. These beings are the "Elohim" and they
are mentioned in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. The Raelians also
assert that the word "Elohim" has been historically mistranslated and misunderstood
to mean "God," a single entity. "Elohim," according to Rael, should be
translated "those who come from the sky" and properly refers to more than
one entity (section "The Message in Brief," at <http://www.rael.org>).
Furthermore, according to Rael, the "Elohim explained that our concept
of an immaterial God is incorrect." (section "Book One-Second half," at
CREATION: Incorporating the Bible into their philosophical framework,
Raelians claim that "Genesis is a written account of how people from another
planet created all life on earth. The messages dictated to Rael explain
how the Elohim used their mastery of genetics to scientifically create
life from inert chemicals using DNA" (section "The Messages of the Elohim:
Book One - First half," at <http://www.rael.org>).
Consequently, "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" (section "The Message in Brief," at <http://www.rael.org>).
REVELATION: The Raelian Movement claims that it "recognizes most
other religions because it was...the Elohim, who started them. It was they
who initiated the prophets, whose role was to progressively educate and
guide humanity," with the result that "each prophet brought a revelation
or message adapted to the culture and level of understanding of humanity
at the time" (section "The Raelian Movement and Other Religions," at <http://www.rael.org>).
The Raelian Movement states that "All the great prophets, including Buddha,
Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed were messengers of the extra-terrestrials" (section
"The Messages of the Elohim: Book One - First half," at <http://www.rael.org>).
Rael is also believed to be part of this progressive revelation, being
regarded as "the messenger of our times..." (section "The Raelian Movement
and Other Religions," at <http://www.rael.org>).
THE NATURE OF MAN: According to Rael, "there is no soul which
flies out of the body after death" (section "Book One-Second Half," at
<http://www.rael.org>). He claims
that the "human being is a 'piece' of the universe..." (section "Sensual
Meditation: What is it?" at <http://www.rael.org>),
that the "Elohim teach that our consciousness is a function of all the
reactions within us and all those outside us" (Ibid.) and that "we are
simply atoms, part of the earth, part of our galaxy, of the huge atom,
all in motion..." (Ibid.).
SPIRITUAL FREEDOM: According to Rael, the path to paradise depends
upon "questioning all our beliefs and all that we take for granted" and
becoming aware of "how all our education, upbringing and present environment
condition all our attitudes, reactions and tastes. All this 'programming'
is in our subconscious, but by becoming aware of it, we can remove the
thorns of our fears, the blocks of our inhibitions" and "awaken the countless
brain circuits of which have atrophied throughout years of misuse.." Thus
we can "broaden our tastes and ways of thinking so that we see the world
in a new and richer light" (section "Awakening Seminars," at <http://www.rael.org>).
It is also taught that through Sensual Meditation, among other things,
one can "question the Judeo-Christian inhibitions of guilt and the mysticism
of Eastern traditions" and also "reprogram ourselves into what we really
wish to be" (section "Book three," at <http://www.rael.org>).
RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT: The Raelian Movement believes that
individuals bear responsibility for their choices and that how one responds
to the message of Rael will effect whether they will continue to experience
life after death through cloning. Raelians believe that "each person is
watched by a computer which notes and will take score of his actions at
the end of his life, but people who know about the messages which Claude
Rael transmitted, will be recreated from the cells..." (Sun-Sentinel,
HEAVEN: According to a chapter titled, "The Reward," from one
of Rael's books, "those who will be entitled to scientific reincarnation
on the planet of the Elohim will live eternally in a world where food will
be brought to them without them having to make the slightest effort and
where marvelously beautiful female and male partners scientifically created
for this purpose, will be there only to satisfy their pleasures, and they
will live there eternally, seeking only to fulfill themselves doing what
they please" (Sun-Sentinel, p. E1).
BIBLICAL: Rael's teachings are undeniably unbiblical and clearly
non-Christian. Rael's radical re-definitions bear upon such foundational
issues as the nature of God (denying that He is a spirit, as taught in
John 4:24); the nature of man (denying that he has a soul or spirit, as
taught in Matthew 10:28); and the divine act of creation (denying that
it was an act of a supernatural God, as taught in Hebrews 11:3). Moreover,
when Rael espouses liberation from "the Judeo-Christian inhibitions of
guilt," his message is fundamentally - and by his own admission - at odds
with the Christian faith, which recognizes the propriety of feelings of
guilt before a holy and righteous God.
RATIONAL: The point can be argued that the Raelian philosophy
is very similar to that of Naturalism, the "view that the 'natural' universe,
the universe of matter and energy, is all that there really is" (Walter
A. Elwell, Editor, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 1984, p. 750). Rael
asserts that "we are simply atoms, part of the earth, part of our galaxy,
of the huge atom, all in motion"; that "there is no soul"; that "The human
being is a 'piece' of the universe"; and that "our consciousness is a function
of all the reactions within us and all those outside us." Rael's materialistic
statements about man and the universe echo the same materialistic assumptions
Being a materialistic world view as such, Rael's philosophy is subject
to all the same criticisms made against Naturalism, namely: (1) it is likely
that human freedom cannot really exist in a world where human choices are
determined by natural laws, (2) it is likely that there are no absolute
values in a world totally comprised of just matter and energy, (3) it is
likely that there is no ultimate meaning or purpose in life if there is
no God to give it meaning or purpose (Ibid.).
Consequently, if Rael's metaphysical assertions are true, it logically
follows that there is no rational reason, moral responsibility, or genuine
possibility to either reject, accept, or be persuaded regarding Rael's
message. Thus, Rael's message can be rejected on a rational basis, in that
it is intrinsically incoherent.
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