Ah, the Raëlians. A group who no one can quite agree as to whether they are a religion or not. Sure, they have all the crazy beliefs of a religion, but at the same time, they claim not to believe in any gods or the existence of the human soul. While it is technically possible to have a religion without a belief in either of these, they tend to help. Most governments view the Raëlians as a cult and to be honest, I don't blame them.
Describing Raëlism is not an simple task. Especially if you like short, easy to digest comparisons. But I'll try, just because the idea of my readers looking confused entertains me. Imagine what would happen if a Mormon and a Scientologist had children, raised them to be hippies and then the confused offspring founded a UFO cult. If only I could see all of your dumbfounded looks right now. Perhaps I should attempt to explain things in a bit more depth, unless that actually made sense to any of you (in which case I fear for your sanity).
Like all good crazy cults, it has a crazy leader. In this case, Raël, or Claude Vorilhon as he used to be called. But apparently Claude doesn't sound mystical enough so he adopted the name Raël. Names like that get you instant street cred with the New Agers. According to Raël, he was informed that he was to be the final prophet of humanity by Yahweh. He was told this aboard a spaceship that he encountered in Clermont-Ferrand, France near a volcano in 1973. Wait...since when did the Judeo-Christian god get his own spaceship?
Well apparently it wasn't that Yahweh, but he was an Elohim in the Mormons sense...kinda. While the Elohim of the Raëlians are also space dwelling super-beings, they are not the god...things of Mormonism. Instead they are proper aliens who apparently look like vertically challenged humans with green skin and big eyes. Almost like the "Grays" of modern alien mythology, only apparently constantly nauseous in a cartoon like way.
Anyway, Yahweh informed Claude that he was to be the last in a long line of human prophets chosen by the Elohim. He was to join the ranks of such heavy hitters as Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, Joseph Smith and a few others. All of the messages of these previous prophets has apparently been distorted into the modern false beliefs that they are now. He was told that there is no god and no such thing as an eternal soul. Things like this make Raëlism rather odd as there are going to be parts here and there that an intelligent person will agree with...unfortunately it is just a piece of logic floating in a confusing soup of idiocy (so in that sense I guess it is more like a religion).
So why did these aliens have an interest in the mostly hairless apes of this planet? Well it seems they created us, and all other life on Earth. Yes, Raëlism is technically an atheistic version of Intelligent Design. They even use the term for the most recent title of one of their books Intelligent Design: Message from the Designers, formerly titled The Message Given to me by Extraterrestrials (once again showing that the name Intelligent Design can make anything sound less crazy at first).
The Elohim, finding Earth a barren, lifeless world used their technology to terraform the planet (they terraformed Terra?) engineer all of the life on this planet in hopes that their most important creation, humanity, would one day join them. But instead of being attentive parents they, I don't know, got distracted or something. So other than the occasional prophet, they left us alone. But Raël claims that if we can only stop killing each other and establish an Embassy for Extraterrestrials (that is the real name, by the way) in Jerusalem then they will totally let us in on their awesome party they have scheduled for 2025.
With this information in hand Claude was transformed from a failed sports writer and race car driver into Raël, "The Prophet for the Third Millenium" and he began his quest to get people to give him 10% of their income and gather his own personal harem...I mean, spread the good word.
Like any cultist who has dreams of sleeping with woman out of his league, Raël supports the idea of free love. While I can support their idea of seeing sexuality between consenting adults as just another part of what makes us human as well as their view that sex work is just, well, work, the fact that these people are utterly nuts kind of makes it hard to get behind them. I'm further confused by the groups logical reasoning when it comes to things like genetically modified organisms and their outcry against the crimes committed by the Vatican and its cover-up of molestations by Catholic clergy.
But just when I start to think that they might be making a bit of sense for once they start trying to talk about scientific concepts. Like every other newage group out there, they enjoy taking scientific ideas and getting them horribly wrong. The best example of this is their views on cloning and genetics. The Raëlians gained some acclaim a few years back when their company Cloneaid (I imagine this should be the name of a futuristic juice drink) claimed to have cloned a human being. Granted their claim was utter bullshit, but it garnered them plenty of attention and probably quite a few converts. They believe that cloning is the key to human immortality as well as a way to resurrect the dead. You see, they believe that things like memory are encoded in our DNA. So all you have to do is get a cell culture of a dead person and they can be cloned and the resulting individual would actually be the person who died, not just a genetic copy. They hope to one day perfect the process and grant immortality to the human race.
They also believe that the Elohim have distant computers that record the memories and DNA of every person who ever lived and that one day a Judgment will occur where the dead are resurrected though such cloning to atone for or be rewarded for the lives they lived. Though if they believe that DNA records our memories I wonder why they have to record our memories separately. This inconsistency is also shown in their punishment of those they deem deviants. Such people can be excommunicated for seven years, after which they can be taken back into the fold. The reason for the time of seven years has to do with their belief that the human body regenerates itself every seven years and by then they will have purged themselves of the 'sin'. This seems to be a bastardization of the fact that it takes about seven years for the human body to replace all our parts with new cells or cellular components.
All in all the Raëlians are little more than a bunch who use technobabble as an explanation for religion as well as one bored man's attempt to get rich and live a life filled with orgies.