BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Saturday, 28 December, 2002, 05:06 GMT
Who are the Raelians?
Rael with model of a spaceship
The sect believes humans were created by aliens

The Raelian movement is the founder of the Clonaid company which claims to have produced the first cloned baby.

The movement claims to have about 40,000 members in several countries, although the number is difficult to verify.

Rael, leader of the movement
Rael is said to have moved to the US, alleging harassment by the French
The sect, which believes humans were created by extra-terrestrial beings who had mastered genetic engineering, was founded in France in 1973 by a former journalist who worked for a racing car magazine.

One December morning in 1973, journalist Claude Vorilhon was on his way to work in the French provincial town of Clermont-Ferrand.

But - according to a book written by Mr Vorilhon, who is now known as Rael - instead of going to the office, on an impulse, he drove to a nearby volcano.

International movement

There, he says, he was contacted by an extra-terrestrial being who emerged from a flying saucer and told him - in fluent French - that humans were created in laboratories by people from another planet.

The creators were known as the Elohim - a word which, in ancient Hebrew, meant "those who came from the sky".

It is used in Jewish prayers to refer to God.

Mr Vorilhon was told to spread the word of the Elohim on Earth in preparation for their return.

He describes them as being little over a metre in height, with pale green skin, almond-shaped eyes and long dark hair.

Since then the Raelians have grown into an international movement. Rael himself has reportedly relocated to the United States after complaining of harassment by the French authorities.

Eternal life

The Raelians' interest in cloning seems to stem from their belief that the human soul perishes when the body dies.

Therefore, they believe, the key to eternal life is not the soul but the recreation of individuals from their DNA.

In 1997, the group founded Clonaid, which now says it has cloned a human being.

In 1990, the Raelians changed their symbol, originally a Swastika inside a Star of David.

The idea was to improve relations with Israel and persuade the government there to let them build an embassy for the Elohim in Jerusalem.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's John Mcintyre reports on the Raelian sect
"Reaction from the traditional religions is one of horror"
See also:

13 Jan 03 | Health
25 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
09 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
09 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
15 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
06 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes