Raëlism


Raëlism

Raëlism or Raëlian Church consists of the practitioners of a UFO religion founded by a former French sports-car journalist and test driver named Claude Vorilhon. Raëlians believe that Vorilhon, who is known by the movement as Raël, received special knowledge and instruction for mankind from the creators of life on Earth, human-like extraterrestrials called Elohim whose technology enabled them to appear as "angels" or "gods" in the eyes of ancient people. Raëlians believe that previous visitation from Elohim sparked the founding of many major religions humanity knows today.Palmer, p. 371.]

Raël founded the Raëlian Movement in Paris, France in 1974 after a large conference. The International Raëlian Movement has been described as "the largest UFO religion in the world". [UFO_religion#Ra.C3.ABlism] The Raëlian Church now has a quasi-clerical structure with a height of seven levels. At the top is Claude Vorilhon, now known as Raël. Joining the movement involves a transmission ceremony as well as an official apostasy from other religions in recognition of Elohim, as the creators of life from the heavens. About one-third of Raëlians pay dues to the Raëlian Church. Members are asked to follow the Raëlian ideals that speak against the use of recreational drugs, tobacco, coffee and limit alcohol to moderation, if at all. Sensuality is an important part of the Raëlian doctrine, though Raëlians recommend a non-contractual agreement between matured sexual partners. In spite of these liberal views of sexuality, the Raëlian Church has attracted some of its priests and bishops from other religions. These views are shared by women who make up a significant minority in Raëlian Church. Some of these women are strong advocates of refinement and erotic sensualism and participate in groups within such as "Rael's Girls" and the "Order of Angels".

Raël founded Clonaid (originally Valiant Venture Ltd Corporation) in 1997, but then handed it over to a Raëlian bishop, Brigitte Boisselier, in 2000. [http://clonaid.com/page.php?7 Clonaid Homepage: History] Retrieved 26 March 2008.] The company claimed in 2002 that an American woman underwent a standard cloning procedure that led to the birth of her new daughter Eve (b. December 26, 2002). Although few believe the claim, it nonetheless attracted national authorities, mainstream media, and young adults to look further into the Raëlians' cult status. The use of the swastika in its original logo halted Raëlian requests for territory in Israel, and later Lebanon, for establishing a Third Temple, despite the creation of a new logo without the swastika. The Raëlians have officially revived the [http://www.proswastika.org/ logo] with its original meaning as a symbol of peace.

Beliefs

Raëlians believe that all life on Earth, humans included, was created scientifically by human-like extra terrestrials that are more scientifically advanced than us, called the Elohim, using DNA synthesis and genetic engineering and thus believe in intelligent design. Throughout the ages, Elohim sent different prophets: Moses, Jesus, Buddha, and many others to guide humanity and to prepare us for the future. Largely left to progress on our own, until the time of the Apocalypse/Revelation when Elohim would send their final messenger and reveal the truth for all to know. Raëlians desire to spread that message and work towards building an Embassy where we can officially welcome the Elohim back, and for the first time in human history, actually understand them for who they are, instead of worshiping them as gods, as our primitive ancestors did. [http://groups.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=groups.groupProfile&groupID=100853910&Mytoken=40400244-874F-43A4-B8BE6BA43CDF6182398457231 MySpace Raelians] , "Myspace.com". Retrieved 30 April 2008.]

Raëlians adhere to a universal ethic while emphasizing secular and hedonistic ideas, rather than worshiping a supreme metaphysical deity.Partridge, p. 47.] The Raëlian Church encourages [http://www.selfcreation.com/acceptance/index.htm self acceptance] and tolerance while following a UFO religion that favors physicalism - the belief that everything consists only of physical properties.Partridge, p. 21.] Raëlians accept that extraterrestrials called Elohim created humanity and deny the existence of the ethereal soul and a supernatural god, [http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,404175,00.html Who are the raelians?] , "Time Magazine". 4 January 2003. Retrieved 15 September 2007.] and believe that the mind is a function of matter alone—a paradigm which William James (1964) would call epiphenomenalist.Palmer, p. 23.] This ties into their belief that mind transfer, and thus eternal life, is possible and that it will be possible to create an identical human clone in terms of mind and personality—as long as the clone and the original are not alive at the same time.Raël, p. 167.]

These beliefs play a part in Raël's purported project, "Valiant Venture Ltd." which he says provides a service called Clonaid for homosexual and infertile couples who want a child cloned from a partner's DNA.Edwards, p. 470.] Raëlians believe that other religions throughout history—such as Buddhism, Islam, and Mormonism—have testaments to extraterrestrial creators.Raël, p. 89.] 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".Raël, p. 248.]

Significantly, [Raelians] embrace technological advances to improve the human condition and are transhumanists. They support genetically modified crops to best feed the growing population. They love advanced materials science and nanotechnology. They support nuclear power and fusion research for cheap, clean energy. They support genetic research and manipulation to produce people who are as healthy and long-lived as genetically possible. They support terraforming of other planets as the technology becomes available. Much has been made of the company Clonaid, which claims to have already created at least one human clone, amid great scientific and ethical controversy. [http://skeptoid.com/episode.php?id=4059 Who Are the Raelians, and Why Are They Naked?] "Skeptoid". 4 August 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2008]

Philosophically, Raëlians oppose war and violence in all its forms. Raëlians frequently appear at anti-war rallies dressed as aliens (which seems incongruous since they say that aliens look like humans). Raëlians also embrace free love and nudity. They consider love to be the answer to virtually all of the world's problems. It's been reported that at some Raëlian conferences, attendees wear colored wristbands indicating what gender or genders they'd like to have sex with tonight. Nudity is the de facto uniform at many Raëlian retreats. ... "Raël's Girls want to share the understanding that you can be spiritual, you can be happy, without the guilt of God and religion." Raëlian activities and seminars encourage healthy food, active lifestyle and sensuality as part of living a long and happy life. [http://rael.org/e107_plugins/raeltv_menu/view.php?6.fast.wmp The Awakening Seminar] , "Rael.org". Retrieved 29 April 2008.] Still, they encourage the exploration of other world religions and reading [http://rael.org/download.php?view.1| Intelligent Design] prior to accepting and joining the Raëlian Movement philosophy.

Organization

- align=center
colspan=3 bgcolor="#DDDDDD" width="360"|Level 0:
"Trainee"

The "structure" of the Raëlian Church is a hierarchal religious order with seven levels ascending from level 0 to level 6. [http://uk.rael.org/request.php?5 Welcome to the Raelian World] , "British Raelian Movement". 2006. Retrieved 22 April 2007.] The top four levels of the religious order 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". 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 aboveWong, Jan, [http://www.wwrn.org/article.php?idd=9014&sec=42&cont=5 Clone artist] , "The Globe and Mail". 7 April 2001. Retrieved 12 July 2007.] —in their assigning of non-guide members to levels 3, 2, and 1 which are "assistant priests", "organizers", and "assistant organizers" respectively.

Members of the Raëlian structure begin as level 0 "trainees" during annual seminars. "Structure" membership counts by third parties are missing or nonexistent, but figures by the movement itself suggest that the size of the structure is small in relation of the size of the whole church. Issue 331 of "Raelian Contact" Newsletter suggests that the "structure" has about 2,300 members, [http://www.raelianews.org/download.php?view.202 For our pleasure...] , "Raelian Contact 331". 7 April 2007. Retrieved 25 April 2007] the Raëlian Press Release Site says there are about 170 "guides", [http://rael.org/press/ Raelian Press Site] , "The International Raëlian Movement". Retrieved 25 April 2007.] and an article on Raelianews.org says there are 41 "bishops". [http://www.raelianews.org/news.php?item.187.6 Rael Offers Excommunicated Archbishop Milingo to Become a Raelian Bishop] , "Raelianews.org". 27 September 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2007.] After completing three 7-year terms, Claude Vorilhon holds the highest position.Isaksson, Stefan, [http://www.anthrobase.com/Txt/I/Isaksson_S_01.htm "New Religious UFO Movements: Extraterrestrial Salvation in Contemporary America - AnthroBase"] , California State University, Fresno". Spring 2000. Retrieved 25 April 2007.]

Converts from other religions

There are multiple accounts of former clergy of mainstream religions joining the Raëlian Church, especially in Quebec. The structure of the movement had promoted some of them to the level of a Raëlian "priest" or "bishop" due to "extensive Bible training and teaching skills".Palmer, Susan J. [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0813534763&id=gmCCxUJGi70C&pg=PA79&lpg=PA79&ots=Rn3yJsE1j6&dq=susan+j+palmer+aliens+adored+teaching+skills&sig=Cza4OUJ2j_XVG2HDQ9kG2BZ89Fo Susan J. Palmer: search terms are susan j palmer aliens adored teaching skills] . New Brunswick, New Jersey: "Rutgers University Press", 2004.] Two ex-Roman Catholic Priests, Victor Legendre [http://www.info-sectes.org/sectesgd/rael.htm Raël et le mouvement raélien] , "SECTES ET MOUVEMENTS RELIGIEUX". Retrieved 19 April 2007.] and Charles-Yvan Giroux [http://groups.google.fr/group/alt.religion.scientology/msg/61a41db394e0f225 Groups hurl accusations at anti-cult organization] , "Montreal Gazette". 1 April 1993. Retrieved 19 April 2007.] wrote testimonials regarding their change of faith to Raëlianism.Raël, [http://rael.org/download.php?view.1 "Intelligent Design] . Nova Distribution, 2006. ISBN 2940252203.] According to one article, a former bishop of the Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints) joined the Raelian Movement in order to express his homosexuality. [http://www.religionnewsblog.com/6958/cult-lures-gay-bishop-into-fold Cult Lures Gay Bishop into Fold] , "New Truth & TV Extra". 23 April 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2007.] In the same article, a quote from a Raëlian, Mark Woodgate, states that 8% of Raëlians worldwide are former Mormons. Religiously mixed couples are common in this movement, especially with spouses who are Christians or Buddhists. [http://www.hrwf.net/religiousfreedom/profiles/ext/raelianenglish.pdf The Raelian Movement] , "Human Rights Without Frontiers". Retrieved 2 December 2006.]

Female members

Women are a minority in the Raëlian Church. However, two anecdotes in the Raëlian Contact newsletter report female majorities joining the movement's Asian Mongolian chapter. [http://www.raelianews.org/download.php?view.82 Mongolia] , "Raelian Contact 288". 25 October 2005. Retrieved 13 July 2007.] [http://www.raelianews.org/download.php?view.203 Celebrating the First Sunday of April] , "Raelian Contact 322". 14 April 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2007.] Despite the overall difference between the number of females vs. males in the movement, 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.Dellagloria, Rebecca, [http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=MH&s_site=miami&p_multi=MH&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=108BB17129645F1E&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM OTHERWORLDLY VIEW OF FEMININITY] , "The Miami Herald". 7 March 2005. Retrieved 17 July 2007.] [http://www.raelradio.net/e107_plugins/podcaster/podcaster.php?10 RaelRadio #7: Femininity Day] , "RaelRadio.net". Retrieved 18 April 2007.] 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. [http://www.religionnewsblog.com/12273/sensual-seminars-and-flying-saucers “Sensual seminars” and flying saucers] , "Agence France-Presse". 22 September 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2007.] McCann, Brigitte, [http://www.calgarysun.com/cgi-bin/niveau2.cgi?s=Lifestyles&p=78796.html&a=1 REALM OF THE RAELIANS: RAELIAN NATION - Part 1] , "Calgary Sun". 7 October 2003. Retrieved 10 January 2007.] The Order of Angels has its own hierarchy of "rose angels" and "white angels" which, as of 2003, are six and 160 women, respectively. 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.Broughton, Philip D. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/12/28/wclone228.xml Promise of as much sex as you want and everlasting life] , "The Daily Telegraph". 31 December 2002. Retrieved 13 March 2007.] A few days later, "Time" magazine wrote that French chemist Brigitte Boisselier was an Order of Angels member.Gibbs, Nancy, [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101030113-404254,00.html?cnn=yes Abducting The Cloning Debate] , "Time Magazine in partnership with CNN". 5 January 2003. Retrieved 12 May 2007.] Around this time, cult specialist Mike Kropveld called the Order of Angels "one of the most transparent movements" he had witnessed. However, he was alarmed by the women's promise to defend Raël's life with their own bodies.

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. 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. [http://www.klas-tv.com/Global/story.asp?S=6482858 I-Team: Alien Nation, Raelians Moving Headquarters to Las Vegas] , "WorldNow and KLAS". 8 May 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2007.] [http://www.raelsgirls.com Rael's Girls] , 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2007.] This organization was set up to counteract the influence of the "JC's girls" mission of the Christian ex-stripper Heather Veitch. [http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/05-10-2006/0004359219&EDATE= RAEL's Girls in Support of Strippers] , "PR Newswire". 10 May 2006. Retrieved 10 June 2007.] Rael's Girls and its founder Raël were featured in a pictorial in the October 2004 issue of Playboy. [http://store.playboy.com/October+2004/BI0410,default,pd.html?source=&affiliate= PlayboyStore.com - Playboy October 2004 Issue - Playboy Magazine Back Issues For 2004 - Girls of the ACC and Kim Holland] , Playboy". October 2004. Retrieved 10 August 2007.] [http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-122098803.html Names in the news] , "Knight Ridder". 16 September 2004. 10 August 2007.]

Apostasy and Raëlian baptism

The major initiation rite in the Raëlian Church is the "baptism" or "transmission of the cellular plan" and is enacted by upper-level members in the Raëlian clergy known as "guides".Palmer, p. 58–9.] Canadian sociologist Susan J. Palmer says that in 1979, Raël introduced the "Act of Apostasy" as an obligation for those preparing for their Raëlian baptism.Palmer, p. 60.] "CTV Television Network" states that apostasy from other religions is required for new Raëlian members.Paredes, Noelle, [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/print/CTVNews/20021227/raelians_backgrounder_021227/20021227/?hub=story&subhub=PrintStory The Raelians: Roots, beliefs and future plans] , "CTV Television Network". 27 December 2002. Retrieved 3 May 2007.] Joining the Raëlian Church through transmission of the cellular plan happens only in certain days of the year. There are four such days—marking anniversaries in the Raëlian calendar.

The first ceremonial date is August 6, which marks the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.Raël, "Intelligent Design", p. 151.] This is not to be confused with a celebration of the bombing, since Raëlians view events like Hiroshima as events common to socially primitive but intellectually developed societies in the universe. They believe societies that find enough energy to reproduce across star systems, will guarantee their own self-destruction if they become too violent—without ever being able to reach planets in other star systems.Raël, Intelligent Design, p. 151.] The second date is December 13, 1973, the day that Raël says he had his first personal encounter with one of the extraterrestrial Elohim.Raël, "Intelligent Design", pp. 4, 121–2, 136, 143, 223.] The third is October 7, 1975, in which the Elohim, Raël says, took him up in a spacecraft and the following day had meals with Jesus Christ, Buddha, and other past religious figures.Raël, "Intelligent Design", pp. 145–178.] The last anniversary that Palmer gives is the first Sunday in April, which Raëlians believe is the date when dark-skinned extraterrestrials created Adam and Eve.Palmer, p. 64.] [http://raelafrica.org/e107v2/news.php?extend.69 RaelAfrica.org] , "RaelAfrica.org". Retrieved 9 August 2006.]

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.Raël, "Intelligent Design", p. 334.] The practice began on "the first Sunday in April"Palmer, p. 58.] of 1976 when Raël baptised 40 Raëlians.Palmer, 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.Raël, "Intelligent Design", p. 175.]

History

The movement traces its beginnings to a conference in Paris, France of two thousand people in 1974. [http://rael.org/rael_content/rael_bio.php?prophet Rael: Messenger of the Elohim] , "The International Raelian Movement". Retrieved 1 December 2006.] From there, the MADECH organization was born. 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 humanité)" while the second stands for "Moses preceded Elijah and the Christ" "(Moise a devancé Élie et le Christ)".Raël, p. 104.] A news agency said that by 1976, Raël transformed MADECH into the International Raelian Movement. [http://www.cesnur.org/2003/mi_rael.htm Raelians and Cloning: Are They for Real?] , "Zenit News Agency". 16 January 2003. Retrieved 25 March 2007.] Over the years, various news media have given estimates of the movement's size, and the statistics agree with a long-term trend of past growth. However, despite media efforts to provide accurate information, Raëlian Church membership estimates can vary even within a given year by tens of thousands.

Lifestyle

Code of ethics

Raëlians are encouraged to do as they feel right and as a result, 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.Palmer, 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. However, Palmer cited Raël, who claimed that more than 60 percent of the Raëlian Movement's members do not tithe.Palmer, p. 64] Dawson College students conducted a survey of the membership in Canada 1991. The results were that only one-third of respondents tithed.Palmer, p. 209]

exual activity

Raëlism believes that sex is a normal, natural and healthy part of life and encourages people to be true to their natural sexuality. [http://www.raelianews.org/news.php?item.196 Exhibit on homosexual behavior in animal kingdom] , "Raelianews.org". 8 December 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2008.] 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. [http://www.raelianews.org/news.php?item.197 To stop Pedophilia, It is urgent to give right to sex to Catholic Priests] , "Raelianews.org". 9 December 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2008.] Raelians believe that sexuality is a gift of pleasure to mankind from Elohim. [http://www.raelianews.org/news.php?extend.34 Raelians Offer Full Frontal Support] , "Raelianews.org". 21 February 2005. Retrieved 11 April 2008.]

Susan J. Palmer writes that in 1991, a French journalist went to a Raëlian Seminar and taped couples having sexual intercourse in tents. These tapes gained widespread publicity—with news stories describing these practices as perverted and a form of brainwashing.Susan J. Palmer, [http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/csrpl/RINVol4No2/Rael.htm "The Rael Deal"] , "Religion in the News", Summer 2001, Vol. 4, No. 2.]

Since 1991, Raël's teachings on sexual intercourse have caused controversy among other religious groups. The next year, Catholic schools in Montreal, Canada objected to a proposed condom vending machine as contrary to their mission. In response, Raëlian guides gave the Catholic students ten thousand condoms. The Commissioner of Catholic schools for Montreal said they could do nothing to stop them. Around this time, Raëlians dubbed the event "Operation Condom". [http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/rael.html#operation%20condom Religious Movements Homepage: Raelians (paragraph on Operation Condom)] , "University of Virginia". Retrieved 4 March 2007.]

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.Palmer, p. 63.] Issue #324 of "Raëlian Contact" shows a picture of Raëlians in Los Angeles, California expressing their condemnation of acts of pedophilia which Raelians consider a disease, particularly those associated with celibate Catholic priests. Their message is that minors and adults should not be mixed in the act of sex. [http://www.raelianews.org/download.php?view.180 DIFFUSION IN THE WORLD: THE US TEAMS DENOUNCE CATHOLIC PRIESTS PEDOPHILIA] , "Raelian Contact 324". 11 December 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2007.] On the other hand, Raëlians claim children should have "complete sexual liberty" and be provided positive and healthy messages about sexuality providing it is legal. Therefore, authorities in the Swiss canton Valais denied an application by Raël to live in their area. [http://www.wwrn.org/article.php?idd=24268&sec=42&cont=all Cult leader Rael denied residence in Switzerland] , "Agence France-Presse". 19 February 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2007.]

Critical reception

Susan J. Palmer, a sociologist from Canada, has studied the movement since 1987 [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0813534763 Review of Aliens Adored: Rael's UFO Religion by Publishers Weekly] , "Publishers Weekly". Retrieved 4 June 2007.] and says the movement intentionally stirs a moderate level of controversy to maintain membership. 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.

Human cloning

The Raëlian Church has close links with the controversial company Clonaid. [http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/july-dec02/cloning_12-27.html THE CLONING DEBATE] , MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. 27 December 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2007.] Brigitte Boisselier, a Raëlian and chief executive of Clonaid, made a controversial and unverified claim that a human baby was conceived through cloning technology. Around this time, Clonaid's subsidiary BioFusion Tech claimed to have in possession a cell fusion device that assisted the cloning of human embryos. [http://www.gene.ch/genet/2002/Jul/msg00035.html Human cloning firm sets up affiliate in Korea] , "Korea Herald". 13 July 2002. Retrieved 19 July 2002.] The Vatican, however, says that experimenters expressed "brutal mentality" for attempting to clone human beings. [http://archives.cnn.com/2002/HEALTH/12/28/cloning.vatican/index.html Vatican slams 'brutal' clone claim] , "CNN". 28 December 2002. Retrieved 29 April 2007.] Pope John Paul II criticized the experiment which he believes threatens the dignity of human life. [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,74081,00.html Religious Leaders Condemn Report of Cloned Baby] , "CNN". Retrieved 29 April 2007.] In response, the leader of the Raëlian Church dismissed the Pope's ethical concerns, calling them an "accumulation of religious prejudices."

Raëlian organizers made deliberate attempts to shock, titillate, and capture the media's imagination.Lewis, "Controversial New Religions", p. 371.] The book "Yes to Human Cloning" (2001) attracted media attention after its release, including segments on "20/20" and "60 Minutes".Tandy, p. 156.] Biophysicist Gregory Stock described the Raëlian Clonaid project as "sufficiently quirky to command instant media attention."Stock, p. 157.] It has been estimated that the group received free publicity worth five hundred million US dollars as a result of the Clonaid claim.Bates, 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".United States Congress, p. 356.]

In response to Raël's association with Clonaid, South Korean immigration authorities at the airport denied him entry into their country in 2003.Ji-young, So, [http://www.wwrn.org/article.php?idd=12250&sec=42&cont=4 Raelian Cult Leader Threatens to Sue Korea Over Denied Entry] , "Korea Times". 3 August 2003. Retrieved 12 March 2007] 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 center of the country of Ministry of Health and Welfare that ordered him to leave. 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.Goodenough, Patrick, [http://www.cnsnews.com/ForeignBureaus/archive/200308/FOR20030806a.html Cloning Cult Miffed About Treatment of Leader] , "Cybercast News Service". 6 August 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2007.]

Cult status

Currently, Raëlians are not identified on the [http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/groups/ Freedom of Minds] cult watch site and Raëlians do not fit the [http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/articles/BITE.htm BITE_model ] definition of a cult,Hassan, Steven A, [http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/groups/r/ Steven Alan Hassan’s Freedom of Mind Center] , "Freedom of Mind Resource Center, Inc.". 2001-2008. Retrieved 7 May 2008.] However the government of France classifies the Raelian Movement as a "" (French word for cult). Journalists rarely question the Raëlian Movement's cult status. However, according to Glenn McGee, the associate director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Virginia, 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.Thomasch, Paul, [http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,865915,00.html The sportswriter, the aliens, and a cult with 55,000 believers] , "The Guardian". 28 December 2002. Retrieved 24 May, 2007.] The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the United States Department of State [http://state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2003/24482.htm International Religious Freedom Report 2003] , "Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor". 18 December 2003. Retrieved 6 August 2006.] and sociologist Susan J. PalmerPalmer, pp. 1-3.] have classified the International Raëlian Movement as a religion.

In 2005, a Wired News report said that two young adults named Abdullah Hashem and Joseph McGowen 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. However, 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.Philipkoski, Kristen, [http://www.wired.com/news/culture/1,68593-1.html Some Sex With Your Clone Perhaps?] , "Wired News". 31 August 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2007.] [http://home.sailormoon.com/kmarinas86/news273e.pdf A VERY SPECIAL SEMINAR IN LAS VEGAS] , "Raelian Contact 273". May 26 2005. Retrieved 26 June 2007. " [http://www.raelianews.org/download.php?view.41 (French, raelianews.org version)] "]

Raelians caution that most Christians use the specific definition of a cult as a religious group that denies one or more of the fundamentals of Biblical truth. Or, in more simple terms, they define it as a group that teaches something that will cause a person to not be saved (according to Christianity) if they believe it. In distinction from a religion, this method defines a cult as a group that claims to be Christian, yet denies an essential truth of Biblical Christianity. [http://www.gotquestions.org/cult-definition.html What is the definition of a cult?] , "Got Questions Ministries". 2002-2008. Retrieved 10 April 2008.] In this sense, most Raelians, who have officially apostatized from orthodox religions, are fine with this term.

wastika

Raelians believe in [http://reclaimtheswastika.com/history/ reclaiming the swastika] and restoring its historical, beautiful and peaceful meaning. Raelians feel that education should prevail in teaching the ancient, international meaning of the [http://www.proswastika.org/index.php swastika] as a symbol of eternal peace. Raelians feel that this positive historic symbol of good luck should prevail over those of a tyrannical dictatorship despite some who choose to empower that message. [http://www.proswastika.org/ Pro-Swastika] , "Pro-Swastika.org". 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2008.]

In 1991, an anti-cult organization called "Info-Cult" of Montreal made statements against the Raëlian Church with an article on "Le Devoir", branding Raëlians as promoters of fascism and racism. One reason given was that the church uses a swastika as part of their logo and the other is the Raëlian description of an extraterrestrial global government in which those less than ten percent above average intelligence are excluded from the electorate.Rael, " [http://rael.org/download.php?view.6 Geniocracy] ". "The Raelian Foundation", 2004.] Outside Info-Cult's office, Raëlians spoke against the act of discriminating against a religious minority. On January 2, 1992, a dozen people protested against the use of the swastika in the Raëlian logo in Miami's Eden Roc Hotel. Claude Vorilhon appeared at the end of this one week seminar—at a conference with an attendance of 230. The use of the swastika and other Raelian practices has led to criticism from the group Hineni of Florida, a Jewish anti-cult organization. [http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=MH&s_site=miami&p_multi=MH&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB3457A4A98020D&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM USE OF SWASTIKA LOGO PROMPTS BEACH PROTEST] , "The Miami Herald". 3 January 1992. Retrieved 8 June 2007. [http://news.google.com/archivesearch?q=raelian+cult+riled+Hineni+OF+Florida%2C+A+Jewish+anti-cult+organization&btnG=Search+Archives&um=1 "(highlight)"] ]

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 embassy or "Third Temple" to greet the anticipated Elohim space vessels although the country continued to deny their request. [http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/rael.html Religious Movements Homepage: Raelians] , "University of Virginia". 11 April 2001. Retrieved 4 March 2007.] 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.Thomas, Amelia, [http://www.wwrn.org/article.php?idd=19567&sec=42&cont=all Raelians want to establish ET embassy in Jerusalem] , "Middle East Times". 18 November 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2007.] 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. [http://www.raelianews.org/news.php?item.206.3 The Official Raelian Symbol gets its swastika back] , "Raelianews.org". 17 January 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007."] However, the symbol does not appear on the movement's Hebrew-languague leaflets distributed on various public occasions in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.Fact|date=April 2008

ee also

*Cult
*New Religious Movement

References

reflist|3

Cited texts

*Bates, Gary, [http://books.google.com/books?output=html&id=SVh0noGKbhYC&pg=PA15&ots=zp6gcEoo-9&dq=raelian+media&sig=gXUXtRA8NHv8Vg4JBC_n9LPCbeU "Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection"] "New Leaf Press", 2005. ISBN 0890514356.
*Edwards, Linda, [http://books.google.com/books?output=html&id=edT9ZBiroCQC&pg=PA470&ots=WUK61FeuP1&dq=raelian&sig=q98T5HAonsibnBVMCV42dbQmFWI "A Brief Guide to Beliefs: Ideas, Theologies, Mysteries, and Movements."] "Westminster John Knox Press", 2001. ISBN 0664222595.
*Lewis, James R. [http://books.google.com/books?output=html&id=e0TfqG3XNmEC&pg=PA371&ots=BN5iysHyLU&dq=raelian&sig=hD9RLLNypyPlnMr7zP6jRzF57w8 "Controversial New Religions"] "Oxford University Press", 2004. ISBN 019515682X.
*Palmer, Susan J. [http://books.google.com/books?id=gmCCxUJGi70C&printsec=frontcover&dq=susan+j+palmer+aliens+adored&output=html "Aliens Adored"] . "Rutgers University Press", 2004. ISBN 0813534763.
*Partridge, Christopher H. [http://books.google.com/books?output=html&id=1nsazah-mEQC&pg=PA45&ots=Dbl3DMfIQm&dq=raelian&sig=9iTeeBowhtxt2OcytHUeLHswqOg#PPA59,M1 "UFO Religions"] . "Routledge", 2003. ISBN 0415263239.
*Raël, [http://rael.org/download.php?view.1 "Intelligent Design"] . "Nova Distribution", 2005. ISBN 2940253003.
*Raël, [http://rael.org/download.php?view.2 "Yes to Human Cloning: Immortality Thanks to Science] . Tagman Press, 2001. ISBN 1-903571-05-7; ISBN 1-903571-04-9.
*Stock, Gregory, [http://books.google.com/books?output=html&id=Y2fTqbOTHEcC&pg=PA157&ots=fKLLSs_RqA&dq=raelian+media&sig=WvUUpOGahi_jbyVP3B4kaexwof0 "Redesigning Humans: Choosing our Genes, Changing our Future."] "Houghton Mifflin Books", 2002. ISBN 061806026X.
*Tandy, Charles, [http://books.google.com/books?output=html&id=1TOl6w1GVhAC&pg=PA156&ots=bBUl0IcpVh&dq=raelian+media+attention&sig=To_ZaxdoCKusAYj_VQqsPO8qOoY#PPA156,M1 "Doctor Tandy's First Guide to Life Extension and Transhumanity"] "Universal-Publishers.com", 2001. ISBN 1581126506.
*United States Congress, [http://books.google.com/books?output=html&id=N-UjAAAAMAAJ&q=raelian+%22press+hog&dq=raelian+%22press+hog&pgis=1 "Medical science and bioethics: attack of the clones? Hearing before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources of the Committee on Government Reform"] , House of Representatives, One Hundred Seventh Congress, second session, May 15, 2002. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 2003. Government Documents. Y 4.G 74/7:B 52/7.

Further reading

*Raël, [http://rael.org/download.php?view.6 "Geniocracy"] . The Raelian Foundation, 2004.
*Raël, [http://rael.org/download.php?view.3 "Maitreya"] . The Raelian Foundation, 2003.
*Raël, [http://rael.org/download.php?view.5 "Sensual Meditation"] . Tagman Press, 2002.

External links

Official Raëlian sites

* [http://rael.org/ Web site of the Raëlian Movement]
* [http://raelradio.net/ Official Raëlian Radio station and podcast]
* [http://raelianews.org/ Official News and Views of the Raëlian Movement]
* [http://raelafrica.org/ Official Raëlian Website for Africa]
* [http://rael.org/download.php E-book Downloads of the Raëlian Books]

Raëlian research interests

* [http://clonaid.com/ "Clon"aid] - [http://stemaid.com/ "Stem"aid] - [http://clitoraid.org/ "Clitor"aid]
* [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rael-science-select Rael Science Select - selected news from the internet]

exuality

* [http://raeliangay.org/ ARAMIS international - set up by Raëlians to support Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender rights]
* [http://raelsgirls.com Raël's Girls - Official Raëlian site reaching out to those who wish to be a part of the Sex Industry]
* [http://nopedo.org Association for the denunciation of pedophile priests according to law]

Unofficial Raëlian sites

* [http://raelianmovement.org/ Unofficial web site about the Raëlian Movement (with forum and videos)]
* [http://www.glenncarter.com/zzz/home.htm Raëlian website made by Glenn Carter, who is also known for his role in Jesus Christ Superstar]
* [http://cafe.daum.net/iloveufo Raëlian website for speakers of Korean]

Miscellanea

* [http://imdb.com/title/tt0708490/ The character Raël appears in Star Trek Episode "Wink of an Eye"]

tudy concerning this New Religious Movement

* [http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/rael.html Article on Raëlians by the University of Virginia]

Criticism from skeptics

* [http://skepdic.com/raelian.html Raëlism] Robert T. Carroll's skeptic dictionary entry
* [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2843/is_4_26/ai_88826356 Rise of the Raelians: flying saucers, science, sex, and religion] , Vern Bullough, "Skeptical Inquirer", July-August 2002
* [http://rickross.com/groups/raelians.html Raëlian information page] , Rick A. Ross Institute
* [http://geocities.com/youcreatedcosmos/Rael.html Analysis of the Raelian Movement and Claude Vorilhon's (Rael's) presumed UFO (Elohim) encounter in December 1973.]
* [http://www.realrael.org Rael : The Masonic Messiah?]


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