Do you believe in aliens?
Feel the need for some kind of intelligent design theory with your aetheism?
Think religion needs more sex?
Have a general need to feel like you belong?
How about clones? Do you wanna get a clone baby?
If you ever get approached by the Raelians, and consider becoming one of their 70,000 members worldwide, perhaps you should ask yourself some of these questions. The Raelians are, for those who don’t know, cultists who believe in aliens. Rael, formerly known as motoring enthusiast/journalist/crazy French guy Claude Vorilhon, is the community’s analogue to the Pope. The Raelians believe that not only are we the cloned offspring of aliens, but that Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed were all aliens too. Rael knows this; he had a meal with them on their planet. Raelians also hold a subsidiary company called Clonaid, which claims to have produced cloned children, although they haven’t provided any evidence. Clonaid also manufactures an embryonic cell fusion machine, whatever that is, called the RMX 2010.
I have had an interest in UFOs since I started watching The X-Files when I was little and fanciful, but my interest became an obsession when in 2010 I thought I saw a UFO. I was lying in bed early one morning when a black disc with a red light in the bottom passed over my roof. I was certain at the time that it was a genuine UFO sighting. I realized months later that hot air balloons routinely fly over the area, I had just never been awake that early. Like Mulder, I want to believe, so for the past three months I have been emailing both the main Raelian organization through Rael.org and their affiliates over at Clonaid, trying to get an interview with someone. Anyone.
After my initial attempts at representing myself honestly — as a journalist of a sympathetic orientation asking for a mere interview — had been met with a stony wall of silence, I decided to invent a persona. My name was Tracy Jean Hudson and I had a son who had died in a traffic accident, whom I wished to clone, if possible. I presented myself as skeptical, but desperate, and willing to try anything to bring back my baby boy. I emailed them as Tracy four times, each time more desperate in tone. I met nothing but silence, which I had half expected. Did they see through my ruse? Are they simply a publicity sham? Or maybe they’re just too swamped in cloning requests from grieving mothers? I may never know.
To date they still haven’t replied.
On the 27th of December 2002, when Clonaid claimed to have cloned a baby named Eve, I wanted it to be true.
I continued to hope it was true even when they failed to produce any form of evidence that it was. When they claimed a Dutch woman had given birth to a clone of herself, there was, again, no proof. I just wanted to believe.
I’m crazy for this sci-fi nonsense. I want there to be a technological singularity in 2045 like Ray Kurzweil says there will be in his book The Singularity is Near. I want clones of our dead geniuses like Einstein and Mozart casually walking around like they weren’t just dredged up out of the vast blackness of time by madman scientists. I want freedom from diseases, and freedom from hunger with an excess of foie gras. I want these things for the entire world. More than anything I want the freedom to transcend the limitations of our physical shells. As much of a lunatic futurist I may be — and my philosophy tutors have called me just that — there is no way I am anywhere near as crazy as Claude Vorilhon and his Raelians.
On the surface the views of the Raelian movement appear forward thinking and benevolent. They give the impression of the best liberal do-gooders around: they promote sex-positive feminism, condoms, masturbation, birth control, and a worldwide movement called GoTopless that advocates women’s right to go topless should they please to do so. They also embrace genetically modified foods, nanotechnology, and the futurist tenet that the trajectory of man will surpass our physical bonds through the possibilities afforded by technology. All of which appeals to me like it was written down with me in mind.
However, once you delve a little deeper — say, into testimonies from former members — the cult-like nature of Raelianism becomes apparent. Despite the DayGlo absurdity of their religious beliefs, and the liberal inclination of their advocacy, they are an organization rife with allegations of using sex for recruitment, holding fascist ideals, and utilizing coercive inculcation on its members. They have been accused of using attractive female Raelians to recruit lonely, disaffected men by sending them to cruise strip clubs allegedly promising unlimited free sex. By many accounts, the Raelian movement utilizes a very touch-based recruitment process, and demands compulsory “sensual meditation sessions” of its members, that, according to two Wired journalists, amounts to beautiful Raelian women indoctrinating Trekkies through sex.
The charge of fascism stems from both their adoption of a swastika emblem, iconoclastically placed within the Star of David, as their official logo, and from Rael’s description of our creator’s — the conveniently named Elohim — intention of creating a “geniocracy.” This would result in a worldwide semi-democratic coalition, run by those with an intelligence quotient of 50% above the general population, with all others below the requirement excluded from the process.
According to sociologist Susan J. Palmer, Rael has also claimed that “Jews are more intelligent with superior DNA because they are a cross-breed of Elohim and mortal women.” He begins to sound like an unhinged, contrarian, Nazi-racist. I started this article intending to provide a sympathetic portrait of some charming-topless-wackjobs after my own heart, but right now, upon reading about them, I hate Rael and his Raelians.
My hope about their claims of cloning success has been shattered like so much glass in a glass-smashing orgy hosted by Mickey Rourke. That’s a lot of glass. I guess I never believed Clonaid anyway, but I thought it would make the world interesting, and so I longed for it to be true. As the years passed without one piece of evidence presented (Little Eve would be ten years old by now), their claims have fallen even flatter. Stripped of any legitimacy, Clonaid appears to be a long con designed to sucker desperate parents out of thousands of dollars, while providing nothing in the form of recompense, and certainly no clones of any dead babies.
For all their high-minded liberalism, the Raelian movement and Clonaid appear to amount to little more than a shallow (probably for-profit!) sci-fi cult. The Raelians are rather litigious, as evinced by their unsuccessful attempt to sue Ubisoft for defamation in 2009, and their successful claim against investigative journalist Brigitte McCann for invasion of privacy. So, I implore you, potential disciple of Rael, before you hit me with a summons or a subpoena, that you shoot me an email. All you need to do is explain how I got it so wrong — that you really are beautiful topless wonder-people doing good across the galaxy. Some DNA evidence confirming your cloning claims would be nice too. I already believe in aliens, and I like all the promises of liberated sexuality too, so I should be a real easy convert. I want to believe. All I need is a nudge in the right direction.
Illustration by Dylan McKeever for The Bygone Bureau.