Midweek Cuckoo: Rael and the Raelians
Born Claude Vorilhon in Vichy, France, Rael is the leader and spiritual guide of the Raelian Movement, a group of new agers preaching peace, love, understanding, religious freedom, sexual self-determination, individualism and humanitarianism. They are an atheist movement, support birth control, and are big supporters of science and technology, most especially research into cloning.
Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? I mean, apart from the fact that they’re raging hippies, their position seems enlightened and certainly not worthy of mockery. But how about if I told you they also believe that humans (and in fact all life on earth) were genetically engineered by alien beings known as Elohim, who have passed on to Rael, amongst other things, the technology to clone humans. Which the Raelians and their corporation Clonaid claim to have done successfully, multiple times.
Raelians believe that their current cloning efforts are only the first step to practical immortality, to be gained by combining cloning of the genetic traits of a human being with the eventual transfer of the mind from the donor to the clone. And while one can hardly fault a group for having faith in science, what one certainly can fault them on is their claim to have successfully taken that first step – cloning of genetically identical human beings. In the meantime, humans will have to strive for immortality by another means – as granted to a select few by the Elohim, who transport them to live for eternity on the Elohim home world, where one can bump elbows with Jesus, Mohammad, Mother Theresa and Gandhi.
So how did a high school dropout and race-car driver become the prophet of extraterrestrials? Rael claims that in 1973 he was walking along a volcano in France when he saw a UFO, 7m in diameter made of very shiny silver, and moving in total silence. A radiant being emerged, four foot tall with olive green skin, almond shaped eyes and long dark hair, and conferred upon him the wisdom of the stars and the name Rael. The first thing the alien asked him (presumably in perfect French) was whether he regretted not bringing his camera. How convenient.
Over several subsequent meetings with the aliens, including a trip to the alien’s world, Rael hand-wrote his first book over six one-hour sessions (but he has never produced the original manuscript), an almost impossible feat given the length of it. Rael was informed that he was the most recent in a long line of prophets of the Elohim, which had included Moses, Buddha, Joseph Smith and Confucius, many of whom he met on the Elohim’s planet. Such esteemed company.
Rael also claims the the Elohim inhabit a planet orbiting a star less than a light year from Earth. Given that the closest star to earth, Proxima Centauri, is more than four light years away, this is obviously ridiculous.
The Raelian movement also includes a subset known as the Order of the Angels, a group of nubile young women being trained as hostesses and sexual mates for the coming return of the Elohim to this planet. They are only permitted to gratify the Elohim and their prophets. Since the Elohim are nowhere to be seen, and the other prophets are all long dead, that pretty much just leaves Rael.
Naturally the Raelians have not provided any proof of their ‘successful’ cloning efforts. Rael makes all sorts of noises about why they cannot submit the cloned babies (who remain anonymous) to DNA testing, citing the ‘rigid prejudices’ of the government, media and scientific ‘establishment’. Yet Clonaid are quite happy to advertise the price for their unproven services at $200,000 to childless couples. Their lab is hidden somewhere in the Nevada desert, and one wonders how much of the fee you have to pay up front in order to be given directions.
One thing the Raelians do have going for them – they consider the Catholic Church their arch-nemesis, and pull amusing stunts like handing out condoms outside Catholic schools. You have to at least give them kudos for that.