The Biggest Controversies Surrounding The UFO Religion, Raelism

When the Miami police broke into the apartment they discovered three extremely emaciated corpses. It was April 2010 and investigators were stunned by what they believe happened to Daniel Boli-Gbagra, his wife Magali Gauthier, and her 23-year-old daughter, Tara Andreze-Louison. They apparently died by suicide through starvation, according to The Miami Herald. Among the items police found in the home were books and pamphlets from the Raëlian movement, a small religious sect that believes an alien race called the Elohim created humans. Investigators also found journal entries made by Gauthier in which she begs the Elohim for help.

The religious group later put out a statement that said it hadn't had any contact with Boli-Gbagra in years and that although he had found the "Raëlian Movement's philosophy interesting" he also "had a lot of mystical beliefs" to which the sect did not ascribe (via The Palm Beach Post). The media attention once again shone a light on the Raëlians and the many controversies connected with the religious group, from its alleged cloning of humans, its stance on sexuality, and its attempted rehabilitation of the swastika symbol, per the Religion Media Centre.

The beginnings and Eve

In 1973, a French automotive journalist and pop singer named Claude Vorilhon began espousing a new religious belief. He changed his name to Raël and alleged he had been visited by the Elohim, a race of aliens who took him to their home planet and revealed that not only had they created humans in their space laboratories, but had tasked Raël with guiding humanity. The religious group now claims a membership of about 65,000.

In 1997, the Raëlian movement launched Clonaid, a company with the stated purpose of cloning humans. In 2002, Clonaid claimed it had created the first human clone, a female baby named Eve, but refused to provide any proof of its claim, according to CNN. When pushed, the company claimed Eve and her family had moved to Israel and gone into hiding. Clonaid later claimed on its website the company had created several more human clones. As with Eve, Clonaid provided no proof. Most scientists believe it was just a hoax.

Sex and swastikas

The Raëlian movement's attitudes towards sex have often been tabloid fodder with its espousal of free love and what some feel is a sexist worldview. In 2010, during golf legend Tiger Woods' sex scandal. Raël, in an open letter, exhorted Woods to divorce his wife and become polyamorous, per The Ottawa Citizen. "Adultery is not a mental disease, but a very normal behavior among both humans and animals," he wrote. The group also sponsors marches where women go topless for equal rights with the motto of "Free your breasts! Free your mind!"

The Raëlians also hold rallies in an attempt to reclaim the swastika symbol. Before the Nazis adopted the symbol forever linking it to evil, it had ancient origins tied to positive ideas of good luck and peace. The UFO religion incorporates the symbol in its iconography through amulets worn by its members that feature the swastika. Since 2009, the Raëlian movement has celebrated "Swastika Rehabilitation Day" each June. The UFO-loving sect, both through courting public controversy and its ties to the heartbreaking Miami starvation case, has continued to remain in the public eye.