Claude Vorhilon is a former journalist, pop singer, race car driver, and French national. According to his accounts, he experienced an encounter with a UFO while hiking on December 13, 1973. He called the aliens he encountered the Elohim, which Vorhilon translates as "those who come from the sky."
The Elohim named Vorhilon their prophet and decreed that he should preach their wishes for peace, tolerance, scientific progress, and the enjoyment of life. Vorhilon renamed himself Rael, meaning "messenger of the Elohim" and began the Raelian Movement.
From Prophet to MessiahOriginally, Rael was understood to be merely be a prophet of the Elohim. That is to say, the Elohim chose him to be their mouthpiece. However, on a subsequent encounter with the Elohim, Rael learned that he was actually the son of Yahweh, one of the Elohim, and that he would be the last of the prophets. Humanity has reached a critical point in its development. Either we choose to live in harmony with one another, in which case the Elohim will make their presence widely known to us, or we will eventually annihilate ourselves.
Rael is not the first son of Yahweh to be sent to Earth. Jesus, Mohammed and the Buddha are also sons of Yahweh, although all are conceived through different women. As such, they are all half-brothers.
UFO and Cult Culture in FranceAt the time of Rael's revelation in the 1970s, France was relatively welcoming of those with an interest in research on UFO phenomena. As such, Rael was initially greeted more positively than he might have been in other countries.
However, France is also considerably concerned with cult activity, and it acts much more decisively in limiting the actions of groups identified as cults than many other Western cultures.
Clashes with the Catholic ChurchRael was raised in a secular home and was considerably influenced by his atheist grandmother. Therefore it is not surprising that Rael's religion professes no belief in supernatural powers, but instead exhorts science and views humanity's creators as physical creatures from another world.
Catholicism is the majority religion in France, and Rael is notably more hostile toward them than toward any other Christian denomination. He objects to the stringent hierarchy, its ultra-conservative views on sex and birth control, its wealth, and its possessions of Italian land. He is also highly critical of the Church's lack of timely response to allegations of pedophilia among priests.
ControversyThe Raelian movement is exceedingly liberal in its views on sexuality and pleasure. They urge people to be comfortable in their own bodies and experiment sexually. The openly welcome homosexuals and bisexuals, and they consider masturbation to be both natural and beneficial. Many of the upper level Raelians avoid marriage, although Rael himself is currently on his third marriage.
These outlooks have attracted the criticism of conservatives, which in turn have fueled rumors of outright sexual misconduct, including the encouragement of pedophilia, which the Raelians actually actively condemn.
These accusations of have led to the movement to be described as a cult by some, and the negative publicity has made France an unwelcoming home. As such, Rael now lives in Quebec, Canada, which has been far less judgmental and limiting toward Rael and his organization.