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Raëlism, also known as Raëlianism or the Raëlian movement, is a UFO religion founded by Claude Vorilohn in 1974.

Now known as Raël, Vorilohn was a pop music singer in his teen years, and later a French auto racing journalist, publisher, and test driver, before founding Raelism.

According to his writings, Vorilohn was drawn to a secluded area within a volcanic crater in France. Looking into the sky, he saw a flashing light, which turned out to be an alien spacecraft. A staircase was lowered from the craft, and an alien descended.

The conversation that Vorilohn had with the alien became the foundation for the Raelian movement.

The being told him that all life on earth, including mankind, had been created through advanced cloning methods by extraterrestrial designers known as Elohim. Out of ignorance, people regarded the extraterrestrials as gods, and they were the Elohim of the Hebrew Bible.

Raelians believe that the Hebrew Bible included accurate accounts of many of the activities of the designers on earth, but that they were expressed in light of the limited understanding of the authors. For example, they believe that the Garden of Eden was actually a large laboratory based on an artificially constructed continent, that Noah's Ark was a spaceship that preserved DNA that was used to resurrect the animals through cloning, and that the Great Flood was the result of a nuclear missile explosion sent by the Elohim. They also interpret the biblical story of the Tower of Babel as a rocket that was intended to reach the creator's planet.

Throughout human history, the Elohim had made contact with about forty people, who acted as their prophets on Earth. These included Moses, Elijah, Ezekiel, Buddha, John the Baptist, Jesus, Muhammad, and Joseph Smith, claiming that Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Mormonism were all of Elohimic origins.

The alien made contact with Vorilohn because mankind was now advanced sufficiently, so as to be able to receive the full message from the Elohim. Once an embassy was built to receive them, the Elohim would return to bring mankind the means to establish a utopian civilization and to achieve mortality through the technology of cloning.

Changing his name to Raël, Vorilohn founded the Raelian movement to spread the teachings of the designers, and to prepare an embassy to receive them. The movement is known as the International Raelian Movement.

Membership in the Raelian Church is hierarchical. There are seven levels, from 0 to 6, the top four levels being a series of guides, while the first two levels are organizers, and level 0 is that of a trainee.

Raelian organizations include Clonaid, which was founded in 1997 to conduct research into human cloning. In 2002, it chief executive announced that a human baby had been conceived through cloning, although no proof of this has been offered.

Another is Clitoraid, an organization founded by Raelians to oppose the practice of female genital mutilation.

Raelians believe that the combination of mind transfer and human cloning will allow the human mind and personality to be transferred into new disease-free bodies, offering the promise of immortality. Although Raelians deny the existence of the soul, or of a supernatural god, but hold that human beings from the past will be resurrected through cloning.

Like many other religions, Raelism is a millenarian movement insofar as they look forward to a coming age of spiritual peace and harmony. But rather than looking to an apocalyptic showdown with evil, Raelians look to the joyous welcoming of the Elohim, and a subsequent advance toward a more modern, scientific, and sensual world.

Raelians believe that sex is normal and healthy, including the acceptance and encouragement of most types of sexuality, with the exception of pedophilia.

Although Raël insists that Raelians abhor the actions of the Nazis, the official symbol of Raelism intertwines the Star of David with a swastika. Raelians believe that, in doing so, they are reclaiming the swastika by restoring its original meaning as a symbol of peace.

Raelians have been active in several social causes, including opposition to war and to the Catholic Church, for feminist issues, and in favor of genetically modified foods. The movement has also been characterized by participation in intentional controversy, often for what seems to be publicity seeking.

Headquartered in Switzerland, the Raelian movement claims memberships throughout the world.



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