- Does the UFO cult that claims to have cloned the first
human baby have an agenda beyond weird science?
- It appears so, according to interviews with its leader,
Rael, formerly French magazine sportswriter and wannabe race-car driver
Claude Vorilhon, 56. He took the name Rael after claiming to have a close
encounter of the third kind.
- His message for the world, like all Raelians, is that
there's no God. We can all achieve immortality through cloning.
- On Dec. 13, 1973, Vorilhon said he was walking in the
Clermont-Ferrand volcanic mountain range in France when a UFO touched down.
Humanoid creatures with pale greenish skin and almond-shaped eyes took
him aboard, saying they wanted him to be their messenger to humankind.
- The aliens explained they cloned the first people 25,000
years ago. Calling themselves ''Elohim'' - a name appearing in Genesis
commonly translated as "gods" - the aliens said they had been
mistaken as divine by several religions.
- The little green people said Vorilhon was himself a clone
and that they impregnated his mother in 1946 after the use of the first
atomic bombs awakened them to mankind's advanced scientific knowledge.
- ''When I told my mother and grandmother the true story,
my grandmother was relieved because she said that she had seen UFOs lingering
around the house over the years and had never told anyone,'' Vorilhon told
the Village Voice last year.
- Vorilhon, who frequently dons flowing white garments,
said his mission is to spread the word that there is no God, and that science
and our alien forefathers would set people free -physically and sexually
- and help them live forever.
- Two years after the aliens' first visit, they reappeared
and took Vorilhon to another planet where he said he met Jesus, Mohammed
and Buddha. All became immortal through cloning, he said.
- Ever since, he's been preaching the message of protecting
the rights of the ''unreborn'' - a buzzword he used while testifying before
Congress in March 2001. A federal cloning ban would be a Dark Ages act
suitable for the Taliban, not freedom-loving America, he said.
- ''Traditional religions have always been against scientific
progress,'' he said. ''They were against the steam engine, electricity,
airplanes, cars, radio, television, etc. If we had listened to them, we
would still have horses and carts and candles.''
- Rael claims he has 2,000 more people on his books waiting
to be cloned.
- Rael set up Clonaid, the company which helped an anonymous
mother clone her child Eve, who was born in the USA. In an exclusive interview
with Scotland's Sunday Herald, Rael said Eve would not be seen by the outside
world until she was 18. Clonaid has said it will provide scientific proof
that the child is a clone within the next week.
- He robustly defended the cloning experiment, saying:
'We are for peace and love. This is a time of danger for earth. We are
spiritually lost. The two most powerful countries on earth - America and
Britain - are ready to kill 100,000 civilians in Iraq, yet people are angry
over the birth of a beautiful little girl through cloning.'
- Rael's 55,000 Raelian followers believe humans were created
in labs by aliens. Rael claims to have been visited by aliens in his native
France, and says his ultimate goal is to clone people at the point of death,
grow the clone to adulthood in a few of hours and download their memory
into the clone's body - a technique he says will lead to eternal life and
which he believes will be attainable in 25 years.
- Rael also attacked Christianity, and particularly the
Vatican, for its opposition to cloning. 'Everything that the Pope is against,
I support,' he said. 'The Catholic Church is the worst enemy of human nature.'
- Those who adhere to Vorilhon's teachings are encouraged
to be respectful of other people and to enjoy the sexual company of others,
including those of the same sex.
- ''He surrounds himself with attractive, glassy-eyed women
- maybe that's why he likes Florida in the winter,'' said Eric Siblin,
a Canadian writer who interviewed Rael for the Canadian magazine Logik
three years ago. Siblin said he went to a pro-cloning event in Montreal
run by the Raelians, whose interest in extraterrestrials and free love
- ''The meeting drew hundreds of people,'' he said. ''Lots
of them were sci-fi nerds, and there were strippers, too.''
- The sect sells science fiction knickknacks at its theme
park/compound outside Montreal known as UFOLand, Siblin said.
- The group, which claims more than 55,000 members worldwide,
supports itself by tithing member's salaries - up to 3 percent of earnings
- selling $9,000 embryo-obtaining ''cloning machines'' and charging large
sums for cloning services.
- In 1999, Vorilhon persuaded former West Virginia state
legislator Mark Hunt to pay $500,000 to open a secret laboratory in Nitro,
W.Va., to clone his dead 10-month-old son. Raelian Bishop Brigitte Boisselier,
who made Friday's announcement, headed the project, but the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration closed it down before she could finish.
- After that, the Raelians never shunned the limelight.
- In June, 2000, Catholic officials in Montreal took the
Raelians to court in an attempt to break a lease that allowed the cult
to use church property for its meetings. Catholic representatives said
they were not aware of the Raelians' sexually libertine and space-age beliefs
when they signed the agreement.
- Problems with the Catholic Church resurfaced this year
when Raelian protesters appeared outside a Catholic secondary school in
Montreal and urged students to renounce their religion. The demonstrators
carried wooden crosses, which they wanted the students to burn.
- The Raelians have had run-ins with public institutions
as well. In July 2000, they accused the United Nations of religious discrimination
after UNESCO excluded the Raelian cult from its Manifesto 2000, a worldwide
petition for peace and nonviolence.
- Also, Vorilhon has crusaded to try to establish an embassy,
preferably in Israel, for extraterrestrials when they return to Earth.
The effort hasn't gone far.
- Rael also revealed that his next big venture would be
the creation of a virtual sex machine which will allow computer users to
have sex with each other online.