Aliens, Religion, And Immortality: Inside Raëlism's Quest To Design An Extraterrestrial-Friendly Utopia

Photo of Claude Vorilhon
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News & Politics
Sarah Guy

It's safe to say that religion and aliens aren't aligned for most people, but for those who follow Raëlism they are supremely intertwined.

For decades, devotees have centered their beliefs around interplanetary travel, cloning, and improving humanity, but outsiders have continuously wondered whether Raëlism is simply a group of like-minded people or if the community edges into the territory of actually being labeled a cult.

Who Founded Raëlism?

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The religious organization was founded by Claude Maurice Marcel Vorilhon. Born in Vichy, France, Vorilhon had explored a variety of creative avenues before jumping into his newfound religion, including working as a musician and an automotive journalist. In fact, he even published his own magazine, Autopop, in 1971. Of course, his life would take an unexpected turn after an unusual encounter two years later.

Early Days

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By all accounts, Raëlism was founded in 1973. During that year, Vorilhon, who was now also known as Raël, allegedly made his first contact with the Elohim, an advanced species of extraterrestrials.

During the 1973 encounter, an alien named Yahweh informed Vorilhon that he had a special message for earth's inhabitants. According to the supernatural being, humanity was simply a genetic experiment that had been conducted by the Elohim in order to spread their message and create prophets on earth. So, who were the prophets? Vorilhon believed that Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed were all half-alien. This would become a core pillar of Raëlism and help shape the narrative around the organization.

Then in 1975, Vorilhon claimed that he was taken to the Elohim's home planet and informed that Yahweh was his father and that Jesus was his half-brother.

Guiding Principles

Claude Vorilhon on a beach with three people
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After his initial encounter with Yahweh, Vorilhon started subscribing to the idea that it was his job to help humanity understand the connection shared by people and aliens. One of the particular goals that Vorilhon had was to improve humanity so that the Elohim could successfully visit. What would this new and improved society look like after their arrival? Ideally, it would become one without war, hunger, and suffering.

Established Teachings

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With a goal and vision securely in focus, Vorilhon began ironing out the rules of his new organization. First, those who decided to follow the UFO religion would need to reject any attachment to ideas about sexuality that were taught by other religions and instead embrace a practice called Sensual Meditation. Followers also had to become advocates for peace and understanding.

Of course, these were not the only tenets of Raëlism. Vorilhon additionally stated that humans needed to perfect cloning technology so that immortality could one day be reached. Essentially, Vorilhon and his devotees continuously attempted to create an ideal society for both humanity and the Elohim.

Joining The Organization

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Despite the abstract teachings of Raëlism, officially joining the group was far less nebulous. After rejecting all other religions and dedicating yourself to the pillars of Raëlism, you needed to attend an official baptism ceremony. During the event, new members would transfer their DNA to the aliens so that the extraterrestrials could identify them when they finally arrived on our planet.

However, permanent membership was not guaranteed. Some experts have stated that Vorilhon could be ruthless when it came to dissidents, so continuously adhering to the belief system was imperative when it came to your role within the organization, especially if you wanted to rise up through the ranks and make it to level five. Level six, which was the highest, was reserved for Vorilhon alone.

Controversies

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Despite the peace and love energy emitted by the members, the organization has not been without controversy, especially surrounding its official emblem which depicts the Star of David intertwined with a swastika. According to members, the imagery is not to be taken at face value, as the points on the star are said to represent infinity, with the swastika representing cyclical time.

Raëlism Today

Photo of Claude Vorilhon and his followers
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As for where the group stands today, some estimates have suggested that there could be as many as 85,000 members worldwide. Many of them reside in Japan and South Korea, but the location of the future embassy remains unclear. But, devotees may have to act fast as Vorilhon has predicted that the Elohim could return in the year 2035.

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