So I call up the prophet Raël on Skype, talking to him over the internet in far-off Switzerland, where he’s staying in some chalet or something while he pushes ahead with his mission to preach the word of the aliens to save us from Armageddon – if, like, we live righteously and stuff, and give Raël the money to build an embassy for their arrival.
Raël’s assistant has the sweetest, sexy French voice. Her name is Li-Li. She sounds delectable, and if that’s really her avatar on the Skype dial screen she's a hot, caramel-skinned honey. If I was dialing up the Pope, or the Dalai Llama, or any other global religious leader it might be wrong to think lewd thoughts about their personal assistants, but this is Raël, man, ALL his personal assistants are gorgeous, and at the core of his religious teachings is a simple recipe of free-love and feelgood vibes. Like, if I was there in the chalet I’m sure he ‘d be offering me Li-Li and a one-way ticket to the mothership, he’s just that kinda guy. So don’t be so hard on him, y’know, I mean all people with just one name are a bit weird – Cher, Madonna, Prince, Raël, it comes with the fame, I guess, or the enlightenment.
“ALLO, how are you?” the voice of the prophet Raël booms across the internet as I sit here staring at his publicity shot, a star-shaped pendant round his neck, his neat black beard with streaks of grey, balding head and side hair up in a topknot, to be a better cosmic antenna for the subtle vibrations of the aliens’ telepathy, he claims. “You are Rak Razam, and you work for Australian Penthouse?” Raël asks in warm tones. Well, this sure doesn’t sound like the “leader of an alien cult” with “worrying apocalyptic tendencies” as dozens of global media outlets have reported. His voice has a French accent and a light-hearted tone, like a cheeky schoolboy brimming with good humour, like he’s about to burst out laughing at his own joke. “If I may say something about Penthouse? I really love this magazine and I think this magazine ... is very important and has a very big role and responsibility to change the society and destroy the guilt created by the Judeo-Christian civilsation. I am happy to see in many countries more people are joining sex shops than churches. You have more people visiting sex shops in France than visiting church. And that’s great.”
It sure is, isn’t it? How down-to-earth is this guy, hey? I feel like I’m talking to my ribald uncle, not the ‘Guide of Guides’, the founder and leader of the international Raëlian movement, a purportedly 60,000 strong UFO worshipping religion that hit the headlines a few years ago when they claimed to have successfully cloned a human baby named Eve. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Raël says he’s also the Messiah (which properly translated means ‘chosen one’); that his real father was the elder alien we know in the bible as Yahweh; that the bible has mistranslated ‘God’ from the plural ‘Elohim’, which does, in fact, originally mean “those who come from the sky”; that he’s been taken to the Elohim’s planet; cloned; met Jesus his half-brother, Buddha and Mohammed and a few other guys you might remember from the history books; and now he hangs out with a rotating bevy of supermodel Raëlian ‘Angels’ in his own private harem, practising sensual meditation. Like, is that totally Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, or what? Did I mention that he also had sex with biological robot women on the aliens’ home planet? Way cool, dude. Raël is truly a pop-Messiah for a media-saturated world.
It’s early Monday morning in Switzerland, and I wonder if Raël’s wearing white, that 60s Star Trek inspired new age number he parades in the publicity stills, or maybe he’s still in his pyjamas and dressing gown, who knows? If you were a prophet, y’know, and not just any prophet but the last of all the prophets, entrusted with the message of our space fathers and the responsibility of the world’s first post-modern global religion, you’d stay in your pyjamas all day, too, if you wanted to, wouldn’t you? Damn straight. Why, it’s good enough for Hugh Hefner. And when Raël was invited to the Playboy mansion a few months back, he brought along his own sexy Raël’s Angels to stack up against Hef’s playbunnies, like two boys sharing toys. “We had a great encounter – he's a wonderful man,” Raël says. I wonder if they compared their stats? Hef claims to have slept with over 1,000 women, but the prophet Raël is just “a poor young guy, so [has slept with] maybe only 400.” Wow. Like, what a life, eh?
Ah, so, how did this 60-year-old Frenchman end up as the prophet of an advanced alien civilisation? Well, it was like, the 70s and all, and Raël says that everything was “organised upstairs to make it the right time to happen.” After the atomic bomb explosion at Hiroshima in 1945 there was that wave of UFO sightings across the world, which also parallelled the growth of television and shows like the Twilight Zone and Star Trek. Religion stated to decline just as science and consumerism started to rise. Raël’s now buddy, Erich von Däniken, known as the ‘father of the ancient astronaut theory’, was the author of ‘Chariots of the Gods’ and over two dozen books on this theme that popularised the idea in the early 70s that space aliens seeded life on Earth. Raël says Däniken’s bitchin’ that he had all the big ideas but the aliens never chose to reveal themselves to him, but that’s why Raël’s the Messiah and Däniken’s just some wacko.
Raël, or Claude Vorilhon, as he was known back then, had been a minor pop star, releasing a few records throughout the late 60s. By the early 70s he was married with two kids and was almost living his childhood dream of racing cars by running a small motor racing magazine. But one day, he says, he received a telepathic command to go to an inactive volcano called Puy de Lassolas near the capital of Auvergne, France, where in a crater he claims he “saw a very strong flashing light in the sky and then [a] UFO came down and a trap door opened and...” And, well, the rest is history. Our parents from space came down and gave him their message of peace, love and friendship on earth, and invited us, their experiment in genetics, to reach our full potential, experiencing “love, real love.” They charged him to be their latest prophet, waiting for us to be scientifically advanced enough to see the truth of their message, of the science behind creation. On their second visitation they took him to their planet and he had sex with beautiful biological robot women, a blonde, brunette and a redhead. Oh, I already told you that, didn’t I?
Raël claims Yahweh gave him a bible-school intensive on his space ship over six days, explaining the translation problems and the poor understanding of modern and still futuristic sciences like cloning and genetics, space travel and telepathy, amongst others. Raël gathered together all this knowledge in his 1975 tract, ‘The Book Which Tells The Truth, The Message Given to Me by Extra-Terrestrials’, which is like an elementary reader of the Old Testament spliced with 70s sci-fi, but over the last 30-plus years has reportedly sold over one million copies in various repackagings. That may include free downloads as an e-book off his website, exact figures are unknown. Anyway, that’s not the point, is it? Sure, book sales stats can be fudged, so can membership numbers, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. This is a growing worldwide religion with literally, universal themes. Many of the core beliefs of old religions like Judaism, Catholicism and Islam have been retained, like loving one another and our creators. But instead of belief in a supernatural God, Raël brings us another way. “When I checked with what the Elohim claim and compared it with the rationality of the message I received, I think it's a better transmission because it's so rational,” Raël says, with a gravity to his voice like he’s comparing brands in his shopping. “There's absolutely no belief in a supernatural God, or anything like that, so it's more natural.”
“Like, wicked, prophet Raël. But do you think that's just changing the icing on the cake, that instead of saying God created us we can now say aliens created us? Don't we now have to have faith in aliens that still won't reveal themselves to us?” I feel sorta bad for asking questions like this, like I’m going to burst Raël’s bubble or something, but no, he doesn’t mind, he’s been facing skeptical journalists for over 30 years and is used to such incendiary questioning. “And there’s been thousands of reports of UFO sightings over the last few decades, so what makes yours so special?”
“I think what makes it special is that I am supposed to be the only messenger,” Raël says mirthfully, like he’s explaining it to little child. “A lot of people, millions of people may be seeing UFOs, what people on Earth call UFOs, but the Elohim told me that I am the only messenger.”
That’s funny, because there’s also a black guy from Vegas who calls himself the prophet Yahweh and who also claims to be a messenger for the aliens, and you can see him on YouTube calling down shining lights for reporting TV cameras – maybe they’re different aliens, I don’t know. Raël does say there’s a galactic brotherhood out there, and the Elohim aren’t our only space brothers. But Raël is definitely the one and only prophet of these aliens, and they’re the only ones offering to save us from our own ignorance if we blow ourselves up with our atomic weapons, so don’t diss them, alright?
“We have a lot of people watching us on the ‘Cosmic You Tube’ right now,” Raël chuckles,“ and they are laughing so much. It's like being a primitive tribe when the coke bottle comes from the sky. For primitive people right now, and I think it’s very famous in Australia, the cargo cults in the Pacific Islands where they are awaiting the return of the Americans who created their religion. You know about the cargo cults?” Raël pauses to make sure I’m still following him.
“Yes,” I say, wondering just who are the primitive people, exactly.
“It’s the same thing – everything coming from the sky must be Gods. There is a movie that I love – I don’t know if it was made in Australia or Africa, I don't remember – The Gods must be Crazy.”
“Cheech and Chong! Yes!”
“You have seen this movie?”
“Yes, I have seen this movie.” For a second I wonder if the prophet likes a smoke himself, but then I remember Raëlians don’t do drugs, including tea, coffee and alcohol. Except that red wine is okay, y’know, ‘cause he’s a Frenchie and all. Gambling’s bad, too, except maybe for that time Raël was video-tapped betting by two amateur documentary-makers at the casino in Vegas after a spiritual awakening seminar. I dunno, maybe some things are ok, we’re all human, after all.
“When the Coca-Cola bottle falls from the sky in the plane?" Raël chortles, holding back a giggle. "And the primitive people think the Gods must be crazy to send us this thing!” and finally he laughs. "And this is the same process. When you are primitive everything you see in the sky is Gods. And then when you evolve, then you place satellites around the earth and you go to the moon and you don't think things around you are things connected to a God or something supernatural."
Haw, that’s my favourite scene, too. I feel like slapping my knee and having a good old laugh at the way we always get things so wrong. Raël is so gosh darn funny. It’s like he’s always telling a joke and the whole world is in on the punchline, and as I bask in the warmth of his humour, I get the same feeling I got as a small boy looking at the watercolour pictures in my children’s bible. Like Jesus was my big brother, and maybe now Raël could be, too. Which makes sense, kinda, since they’re related and all.
For such a cool dude, he seems to have made a lot of enemies, but that’s jealousy, I guess. Raël says the Catholic church is real pissed at him, y’know. ‘cause not only does he and his religion promote gay rights, contraception, divorce… and cloning, my mate Raël is also personally responsible for the de-baptising of over 20,000 Catholics, which requires a permission slip from the Vatican. “As well as the Israelis all the Christian people are afraid to lose all their power. It’s very simple. They see it as a market and there’s a new competition, which is very dangerous,” Raël says.
Then there are the Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders who have come down real heavy on the Raëlian company CloneAid, saying it encroaches on the power of God, who “created Man in his own image.” There was also a little mix-up over the use of the swastika within the Star of David as the central Raëlian symbol. Raël says the star-swastika symbol “is formed by interlocked triangles which means ‘as above, so below’ enclosing a swastika which means ‘all is cyclic in infinite time.’” The swastika really is an ancient religious symbol which predates the Nazi’s appropriation of it, but it didn’t go down Raël well, heh, when the Raëlians wanted to build their space embassy as the Third Temple in Jerusalem.
“I am surprised every morning to be still alive,” Raël says, but maybe the aliens are helping him there, as always. “The Moslems, also, you know what they think … I’m surprised also that they haven’t decided to kill me yet. There was also a fanatic Buddhist group that were threatening me with death threats. At a hotel in Bangok just before a public speech I received a letter that said 'if you talk tonight about Buddha in your public speech we will kill you'. I was rolling on the floor laughing.”
Y’know, maybe there is hope to unite the world, after all. If the four main religions can finally unite over something, even something bad, like killing the prophet Raël, then maybe the aliens’ plan of global enlightenment is coming to fruition after all. Who knows, maybe it’s not just the message, but the medium that’s important. Maybe the real meaning is in the way that ideas themselves can stir up a planetary hornet’s nest and shape our world.
“You know what I don’t understand with any of these religions, Raël? The way they all get fixated on the messenger, and not the message. Does it really matter who says it, or where they got it from, if the message is good?” I bemoan, and Raël seems to know where I’m coming from. Does it matter if it was a long white bearded dude in the heavens or an olive-skinned alien from the stars, that Raël is a loveable rogue or the long-awaited Messiah the Jewish faith has been waiting for? I dunno. Maybe. As Raël says, “There was a study for the top rabbi in Israel talking about me, and saying, 'we don’t agree with him, but let's be careful, in case he's really the Messiah!’" he chuckles.
“Have you seen that movie, 'Monty Python's Life of Brian?’” I ask. “Where they say, "He's not the Messiah, he's just a very naughty boy!"
“I love it,” Raël says, and laughs. “I love it, all these, all the Monty Python... The Meaning of Life is one of my favourite movies, also...”
Y’know, it’s not only sex-shops that are better attended than churches, it’s television, the internet, shopping malls and consumer culture. And in an over-stimulated global village, a unifying, digestable idea like space alien saviours is the type of thing that could just about float as a global religion. Like a planetary cargo cult the Mcpopulace is ready for the new message of Raël, of spiritual truths synthesised from old religions, for the free love, for the expansive cosmology that integrates and puts science at its core as the driver. Raëlianism might just be the religion of the 21st century, because in the end you get what you’re ready for.
“Raël, I know what you should do, dude. It’s all about target markets. You need to update the message of the Elohim with some advertising spin, yeah, override the old religions and reach new audiences who are into new mediums… like Reality TV.” Get some TV company to fund the embassy and get those Raël’s Angels hotties out there with some boobie action and let’s just see if those aliens don’t come down for some good lovin’!
“You are right on. And that’s exactly what we are preparing. We sign a contract, which is still in negotiation with a Hollywood company...” Raël says excitedly.
“You’re kidding?! I just had this idea the other night for the 'RAËL WORLD’!”
“Yes, we are really talking about it. The internet is our best tool now. Before, there were Raëlians everywhere spreading pamphlets and all that, but now that's finished. With the internet we have thousands of people reaching us in 27 languages, and we have the future, because the future's of us.”
Listen, I know what you’re thinking, but who knows? Wouldn’t you like to live forever and have sex with aliens? Dreams can come true, and if you build it, they’ll either come, or you can sell people the t-shirt and DVD and make a good prophet at the same time. The media is the medium IS the message, and as Raël so happily epitomises, we are all UFOs.
And I’d like my biological robot super-woman to be blonde, thanks.
originally published in Australian Penthouse, June 2007