The Raelians Are Coming!: The Future of a UFO Religion
The largest UFO religion in the world may well be the Raelian Movement International, which claims a following of some 30,000 members distributed throughout sixty-seven countries, but mostly in French-speaking Europe and in Quebec. 1 My research was based in Quebec, which has become a dynamic center for the international Raelian community and where Rael, the prophet-founder, has chosen to live.
This study is based on the participant observation method of research, conducted over eight years during intermittent attendance at Raelian meetings, where my Dawson College students and I conducted interviews and distributed questionnaires. I have interviewed Rael on three occasions, and most of the local Guides, as well as some of the international leaders.
The movement was founded in 1973 by a French racing car driver and journalist, "Rael" (born Claude Vorilhon in 1946), as the result of his alleged encounter with space aliens during a walking tour of the Clermont-Ferrand volcanic mountain range in France. These aliens, whom Rael describes as small, anthropomorphic beings with pale green skin and almond eyes, entrusted him with a "message for mankind." This message concerned the true identity of the human race: The first humans were "implanted" on earth by superior extraterrestrial scientists, the "Elohim," who created humanity from their own DNA in laboratories. Rael's mission, as "the last of forty prophets" (crossbred between Elohim and mortal women), is to warn humankind that since 1945 and Hiroshima, we have entered the "Age of Apocalypse." We now have the choice of destroying ourselves with nuclear weapons or making the leap into planetary consciousness that will qualify us to inherit the scientific knowledge of our space forefathers. Science will enable 4 percent of our species in the future to clone themselves and travel through space, populating virgin planets "in our own image" ( Rael 1978). Raelians are neither sectarian nor communal, but may be identified by their wearing large medallions