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Raëlism is a branch of Atheism except they believe that aliens are gods and that eating aliens will give one eternal life. Claude Vorilhon, the founder of Raelism is thought to have discovered chi and has discovered the secret of the tao.
Claude Vorilhon (born 1946), also known as Raël, was an aspiring entertainer and performer who had produced a automobile racing magazine entitled Auto Pop, before he allegedly was contacted by a representative of an extraterrestrial civilization called the Elohim on December 13, 1973 in the crater of a volcano near Clermont-Ferrand in central France. Following what he claimed were the instructions given to him, he founded the Raëlian Movement, which claims to have about 55,000 members from 84 countries. Membership may be particularly high in France, Japan, Canada (especially Quebec), and the United States (especially Miami, Las Vegas, Chicago and Los Angeles). The Movement spreads its message via Raël's books, Raëlian gatherings, press releases and its web site - Rael.org.
The Raëlians promote the social ideas of sexual self-determination and a spirit of sharing and responsibility, which, they claim, will bring a new age of wealth and peace. The philosophy is based on humanitarian values including human rights and freedoms.
According to Raël, a message of the human origin was dictated to him in December 1973 in personal meetings with a 25,000-year-old extraterrestrial who came in a UFO. The story goes that after terraforming of Earth, human beings from another planet (the "Elohim" - which the alleged extraterrestrial himself translated as meaning those who came from the sky) created humans and all life on earth using DNA manipulation and genetic engineering. The message dictated to Raël during his encounter with the Elohim states that the Elohim sent all the prophets who were at the origin of the main religions (Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, etc.) File:Nazi flag.png The Raëlians believe, furthermore, that the Elohim will contact Earth officially when enough of its population is peaceful and come to know about them. They believe this is foretold in all religious texts. They say they will meet in the embassy they want to build for them and share their advanced scientific knowledge with us, their creation. Thus one of their major goals is to inform as many people as possible about this extraterrestrial race.
The symbol initially chosen by Raël for his movement is a stylish version of the symbol allegedly seen on the Elohim spaceship, and can be found on the book cover of some old editions of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, was the source of considerable controversy: it resembled a Star of David with the image of a swastika embedded in its center. The swastika "represents infinity of time, and trace its origins to Sanskrit and Buddhist symbols, to the Chinese character for temple, and to ancient catacombs, mosques, and synagogues." In 1991, the symbol was finally changed to remove the swastika, after the symbol was abused by the Nazis much earlier in the 1930s. The original symbol is still in use in parts of Asia. 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 a Raëlian "embassy" or 'third temple of Israel' to greet the anticipated Elohim space vessels, although Israel still flatly denies their request. The newer symbol is a picture of penis with a jew star on it, to represent their love of sex or "free love"
Immortality through science?
The Raëlians believe that immortality through science will one day be possible. The prophet Raël explains that this will be achieved through the following steps:
- creating a genetically identical copy of someone by human cloning
- causing the clone to mature much, much faster than normal (Raël makes the statement that in future scientists will discover a so-called "accelerated-growth process" - see mention on CNN. Then in a process like guided self-assembly of rapidly expanded cells or even nanotechnological assembly a whole human body may be created in a very short time.)
- transferring the memory and personality of the original person to the mature clone by some kind of scientific process, presumably through a computer back up of the person's brain waves, which is then downloaded onto the fresh clone.
- build a clone army and invade the entire galaxy
The first step, human cloning, while certainly not trivial, is widely recognized as a goal science is capable of pursuing, despite being thought of as science fiction only 20 years ago. Some scientists and many non-scientists, however, find both ideas ethically troublesome. Raëlians do not share these scruples, and followers of Raël, including trained scientists, are actively researching this first step. One Raëlian member has founded Clonaid, a company that claimed to have cloned the first human being (in 2002), but has so far provided no proof, and the claim is widely regarded as a hoax, but thats what they want you to beleive.
It is unclear to many non-Raëlians how the second or third step could be accomplished, but there does appear to be growing research in Asia and other places concerning both accelerated growth and brain-computer communication. It is theorized that human memory and personality could be backed up on silicon.
Raël also proposes cloning as the solution to terrorism by suicide attacks, as the perpetrators wouldn't be able to escape punishment by killing themselves if they could be recreated after their attacks.
Confusion about human cloning
It is important not to be confused by different uses of the word "cloning". In the scientific community, cloning refers only to the creation of a genetically identical individual. Note that "genetically identical" does not mean altogether identical; this kind of cloning does not reproduce a person's memories or experience, for example.
In discussions of Raëlism, cloning sometimes seems to refer not only to biological cloning, but to biological human cloning plus mind and/or brain transfer, or to a process where adult clones can be directly made.
In 2002, a Raël-affiliated company named Clonaid announced its intention to clone a human being for the first time in history, though this goal was seen by medical professionals and scientists as unlikely given current technology. On December 26, 2002, French scientist and Raëlian Brigitte Boisselier claimed the company had assisted in the birth of a girl through Caesarean section, the first of a supposed five total cloned babies. By New Year 2003, the story had spread like wildfire throughout the mainstream press. Claiming the possible destruction of the babies' right to live normally, they did not provide the press or authorities with proof of this birth, such as a chance to obtain DNA samples. The reason for this is that the clone is being trained to kill the kids the made fun of rael in middleschool.
As of 2006, there has been no further evidence supporting Clonaid's human-cloning claims. As a result, these claims are generally viewed as dubious or discredited in the mainstream press. In regards to cloning, Clonaid and the Raëlian Movement are seen by the public as having orchestrated an enormous hoax to produce PR for the organization.
Confusion about reincarnation
The Raëlians seem to have an interest not only in immortality but also in reincarnation. They are willing to bring back famous individuals such as Jesus or Hitler, either for inspiration or to allow for retroactive punishment. In fact, they do not believe in reincarnation as dictated by mystical writings because they do not believe that an ethereal soul (free of physical confinements) exists. In their books, they explain the soul as a primitive man's term for DNA. They consider human cloning as the only step toward everlasting life. It is clear that in the final stages, DNA alone would be enough to bring someone back. Prior to the final stage, reincarnation would require a "recording" of the individual's mind, for use in mind transfer into a fully grown adult clone which has not been exposed to any sensory input.
Order of Angels
One aspect of the movement is the Order of Angels, an international group of prostitutes whose primary mission is to help humanity develop the qualities of
femininity and refinement a whore. Raëlians believe that people must grow beyond the current aggression and violence on Earth, and this will only happen if men as well as women learn to develop their femininity. So, those women who choose to become angels work to develop their own feminine qualities in order to teach others to grow in the same way. These women put their interior and exterior beauty at the service of their Creators and their Prophet, watching over their comfort at every point. Until the arrival of the Elohim, only Raël is present; consequently, they must see to his well-being;and paint his toenails pink.
Different ranks are indicated by the number (and colour) of feathers worn around the Angels' neck. (French PDF)
The Raëlians promote a new form of government that they refer to as geniocracy, or rule by genes. It advocates a requirement of having at least 50% more than the average intelligence potential (though not IQ) as based on a test in order to run for office, and at least 10% above average in order to vote. Thus, geniocracy is a form of selective democracy as opposed to the conventional form of liberal democracy typical of western cultures as it does not include the concept of universal suffrage.
Criticism and the Allegation of being a Cult
During the height of the cloning story several news sources listed Raelism as a cult. Amongst the more noteworthy to do so was the Guardian and Salon. As Raëlism has a living founder, unpopular ethical stances, and had become involved in a media controversy, this allegation is unsurprising. Further, some have claimed that Raël himself has used donations for his own benefit - but this has never been substantiated and all financial records of the Raëlian Movement are supposedly open for inspection by any member. Despite the amounts of bad press and allegations, Raël himself has not been found guilty of any crime in his 30 years as a "prophet". The Raelians seem to meet the requirements of cult checklists, although there are mainstream sociologists who dispute deeming them such, but their just jealous or that they didn't think of it first. Others simply feel the term cult is misused so often it is unhelpful in understanding them or their relations to the world.
In more generalized criticism, the Raëlian movement has received especially negative attention in the French press. Some believe this is due to the fact that Raël is French born. Although France has had a somewhat aggressive policy on "sects" in general, as would later be witnessed in a French Report.
- [In 1991,] "...a French journalist signed up for the week-long nudist Sensual Meditation Camp, and covertly taped couples making love in the tents. This was played over the radio, and subsequent news stories presented the Raëlian Movement as an unbridled sex orgy where brainwashing was perpetrated and perversions were encouraged, though these accusations were not substantiated smilar ones have been made by journalists in other countries such as Australia.
- “The biggest media controversy arose in 1992 when Raël appeared on the French TV talk show Ciel mon mardi, hosted by the popular journalist Christophe Dechavanne. Towards the end of the show (where Raël’s liberal views on sex were critiqued by a priest, a social worker, and a psychologist), an ex-Raëlian suddenly appeared and unleashed a diatribe claiming that Raël was holding his wife and children prisoner, had engineered the breakup of his family, and personally presided over child sacrifice and pederastic orgies at the Sensual Meditation camp. These accusations have been denied but never proven false by the Raëlians.
- ”The Raëlians inundated Dechevanne’s TV station with letters of protest from all over the world. Dechavanne retaliated by suing Raël for "incitement to violence" and the judge appointed to the case decided to call Raël in for questioning. Raël then agreed to ask his members to stop sending letters, but demanded a public apology, and the two parties agreed to drop the feud.” -- The Raël Deal by Susan J. Palmer
In 1991 Raël sued French journalist Jean-Yves Cashga for defamation; however, he lost and was ordered to pay court costs. The judgment remains uncollected. Amidst growing legal problems Raël decided to leave France, emigrating to Canada, where he is a resident and has achieved tax-exempt religious status for his Raëlian movement.
Raëlians have experienced controversy in Canada as well. The year 1992 saw tension with the Catholic Church over what's been dubbed "Operation Condom." In Montreal the Catholic schools refused to put a condom vending machine on school grounds deeming it contrary to their mission. The Raëlians in response began distributing condoms to the students. The Commissioner of Catholic schools for Montreal accepted that they could do nothing to stop the distribution of condoms, but many Catholics resented the Raelians actions as interference or disrespect.
Lastly their views on aliens and genetic engineering have caused repeated criticism or confusion. Even relatively old religions whose founder/inspirer claimed any connections to aliens, like Swedenborgianism although in their case it was more a metaphorical link, have at times been placed as outside the mainstream or occult. Others condemn their views on genetics as pseudo-science or in the least, unethical.
Related Religious Movements
The following religious movements have facets of similarity either in realm of philosophy of creation or general religious belief.
- Raël, Yes to Human Cloning: Immortality Thanks to Science. Tagman Press, 2001. ISBN 1903571057; ISBN 1903571049.
- Rael.org - Web site of the Raëlian Movement
- Unofficial web site of the Raëlian Movement (with forum and videos)
- Clonaid's website
- University of Virginia, Religious Movements Homepage Project
- Raëlism Robert T. Carroll's skeptic dictionary entry
- Selected scientific news from the internet related to the RAELIAN MOVEMENT