Raëlism (also known as Raëlianism or the Raëlian movement) is a UFO cult that was founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon (b. 1946), now known as Raël. The Raëlian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim. Members of this species appeared human when having personal contacts with the descendants of the humans that they made. They purposefully misinformed early humanity that they were angels, cherubim, or gods. Raëlians believe that messengers, or prophets, of the Elohim include Buddha, Jesus, and others who informed humans of each era. The founder of Raëlism received the final message of the Elohim and that its purpose is to inform the world about Elohim and that if humans become aware and peaceful enough, they wish to be welcomed by them.
Japanese Raëlian character mascot
The Raëlian Church has a quasi-clerical structure of seven levels. Joining the movement requires an official apostasy from other religions. Raëlian ethics include striving for world peace, sharing, democracy and nonviolence.
Raël founded Clonaid (originally Valiant Venture Ltd Corporation) in 1997, but then handed it over to a Raëlian bishop, Brigitte Boisselier in 2000. In 2002 the company claimed that an American woman underwent a standard cloning procedure that led to the birth of a daughter, Eve (b. 26 December 2002). Although few believe the claim, it nonetheless attracted national authorities and the mainstream media to look further into the Raëlians' cult status.
The Raëlians frequently use the swastika as a symbol of peace, which halted Raëlian requests for territory in Israel, and later Lebanon, for establishing an embassy for extraterrestrials. The religion also uses the swastika embedded on the Star of David. Between 1991 and 2007, this symbol was often replaced by a variant star and swirl symbol in an attempt to improve public relations, particularly with Israel.
The beginnings of Raëlism are rooted in the experiences of a French former automobile journalist and race car driver Claude Vorilhon. In his books The Book Which Tells the Truth (1974) and Extraterrestrials Took Me to their Planet (1975), Vorilhon had alien encounters with beings who gave him knowledge of the origins of all major religions.
The movement traces its beginnings to a conference in Paris, France of two thousand people in 1974. From there, the MADECH organization was born. The name MADECH is a double acronym in the French language; it stands both for "Movement for the Welcoming of the Elohim, Creators of Humanity" (Mouvement pour l‘accueil des Elohim, créateurs de l'humanité) and for "Moses Preceded Elijah and the Christ" (Moise adevancé Élie et le Christ).:p. 104 By 1976, Claude Vorilhon (called Raël) transformed MADECH into the International Raelian Movement.