2018 IUFOC Lecture: When Contactees found “Cults”…The Case of Raël and Prophets of UFO Religions
In 1974 Claude Vorilhon, French race car driver and journalist, published a book describing his CEIII during a stroll in a volcanic crater. His 1975 book, They Took Me to Their Planet, recounts traveling to the planet of the Elohim. By 1976, Vorillhon was “Raël,” the “Last and Fastest” Prophet of the International Raelian Movement, today the largest UFO religion in the world. Ufologists Jacques Valleé and Carl Sagan debunked what Carl V. Jung called “flying saucer cults,” but we will look more closely at Raël’s career; as contactee, mystic, and prophet – tracking his escalating charisma as he constructs his movement. Based on original field work among the Raelians, and interviews with Rael and other prophets and their disciples (“Corky” Nowell, “Malachi” York), Palmer explores how they navigate Science, the Paranormal and the Sacred.
Bio: Susan J. Palmer is a sociologist of religion who lives in Montreal, Quebec. She is an Affiliate Professor at Concordia University in Montreal and a Research Fellow and Member of the Religious Studies Faculty at McGill University. Her research in the field of new religions has been funded by Canada’s Social Science and the Humanities Research Council. She has published eleven books/edited volumes, notably Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers (Syracuse, 1994); The New Heretics of France (Oxford University Press, 2011); Aliens Adored: Rael’s UFO Religion (Rutgers, 2004). Her most recent, co-authored with Stuart Wright, is Storming Zion: Government Raids on Religions (Oxford University Press, 2015).