Claude Vorilhon

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Claude Vorilhon
Born (1946-09-30) 30 September 1946 (age 66)
Vichy, Allier, France[1]
School Raëlism
Main interests Auto racing,
Universal morality
Notable ideas Sensual Meditation,
Raëlian cosmology
A series of articles on the

Raëlian Movement

Adam, Eve, and Elohim (Raëlism).gif

Beliefs & practices
Cloning (Clonaid)

Views on:

Claude Maurice Marcel Vorilhon[2] (born 30 September 1946 in Vichy, Allier, France)[1] is the founder and current leader of the UFO religion known as Raëlism.

Vorilhon began singing at a young age and soon became a sports-car journalist and test driver for his own car-racing magazine, Auto Pop.[3][4] Following what he said was an extraterrestrial encounter in December 1973, he formed the Raëlian Movement and changed his name to Raël (allegedly meaning "messenger of the elohim"). He later published several books, which detail his claims of an encounter with a being called Yahweh in 1973.[5] He traveled the world to promote his books for over 30 years.[6]



Early life[edit]

Vorilhon was born in Vichy, France. He was raised in Ambert in the home of his maternal grandmother, who was atheist.[7] He attended a Catholic boarding school with Le Puy-en-Velay and caused a scandal by taking part in communion without being baptized. His parents withdrew him from the boarding school to put him in the school of Ambert.[7]

At age 15, Vorilhon ran away from boarding school and hitchhiked to Paris, where he spent three years playing music on the streets and in cafés and cabarets. He met with Lucien Morisse, the director of a national radio program, who was scouting for young talent. Vorilhon signed a record contract and became a rising teen pop star on the radio. He took on a new identity, assuming the name Claude Celler, and released six singles, including a minor hit song, "Le miel et la cannelle" (Honey and Cinnamon).[8] Vorilhon had a passion for the songs of Belgian singer Jacques Brel, and tried to imitate his singing style.[7] He was saving up his money to buy a racing car, a dream he had had since he was a young boy, but his prospects as a singer came to an abrupt end when Morisse, his sponsor, committed suicide in September 1970.[9]

Vorilhon decided to work as a sports journalist to gain access to the world of car racing. He met Marie-Paul Cristini, a nurse.[9] They moved to Clermont-Ferrand, where Vorilhon began his own publishing house.[10] He created a sports car magazine entitled Autopop, whose first issue was released in May 1971.[11] One of the tasks for his new startup was the position of testing new automobiles, which enabled him to enter the motor racing world.[10]

The Raëlian messages[edit]

In the book Le Livre qui dit la vérité ("The Book Which Tells the Truth"), Vorilhon stated that he had an alien visitation on 13 December 1973. According to Vorilhon, in a secluded area within a French volcanic crater, an extraterrestrial being came out of a craft that had descended gently from the sky, and told him, in French, that he had come for the sole purpose of meeting with him. Vorilhon said that he was given a message by this alien and told that it was his mission to pass this message on to the people of Earth.[12]

The book states that advanced human scientists from another planet with 25,000 years of scientific advances created all life on Earth through DNA manipulation.[13][14] These scientists, Vorilhon said, were originally called Elohim or "those who came from the sky".[15] He wrote that some forty[16] prophets in Earth's history were sent by Elohim,[17] but their messages were distorted[18] by humans, largely because of the difference in the level of civilization between the advanced race and Earth's primitive one.[19]

Vorilhon said he was given the mission of informing the world of humanity's origins in anticipation of the return of these extraterrestrials by building a residential embassy in neutral territory.[20] He stated that certain mysteries were explained to him based on new interpretations of sacred texts such as the Bible.[21] He said that, on 7 October 1975, he was contacted by one of the Elohim, who took him to another planet to meet Buddha, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. He stated that his second book, Les extra-terrestres m'ont emmené sur leur planète ("Extraterrestrials Took Me To Their Planet"), relates the teaching he received from these people. In this book, Vorhilhon describes harmonious and peaceable beings, who were free of money, sickness, and war.[22]


Vorilhon was married three times.[23]

In 1974, Vorilhon decided to give up his automobile magazine, Autopop.[3] That September, the last issue, number 34, was published.[11] Vorilhon then devoted himself to the task he said was given by his "biological father", an extraterrestrial named Yahweh.[24] Shortly after a first public conference, Vorilhon founded MADECH – a group of people interested in helping him in his task, which later became the International Raëlian Movement.[25] Sociologist Susan J. Palmer said that Cristini, a nurse, diagnosed Vorilhon as clinically depressed after he appeared at her door step in 1987, burnt out from the tasks he carried out within the movement.[26]

Vorilhon focused on spreading his message in Japan in the 1980s, and by 1987, he met Lisa Sunagawa. Sunagawa soon began accompanying Vorilhon during his travels to Lima, Miami, Brazil, and Martinique. In a television documentary, They're Coming! (1990) by Radio Canada, Vorilhon was seen with four women,[27] while Lisa, in slow-motion, wore a pink tutu and held hands with him.[23]

Vorilhon separated from Sunagawa some time between 1990 and 1992. Around that time, Sophie de Niverville, whose mother and aunt were both Raëlians, was convinced of the authenticity of the messages. Sophie received a Raëlian baptism at age 15. When she turned 16, she married Vorilhon at Montreal's city hall. This was done with her mother's permission. During a December 2001 interview with sociologist Susan J. Palmer, Sophie spoke positively about Vorilhon despite their divorce the previous year.[28] In 2003, he was married to Sophie.[29] On 6 August 2003, the Cybercast News Service said Vorilhon moved back to Canada with his wife Sophie after being escorted out of South Korea by government officials.[29]

Racecar driver[edit]

In 1994, wealthy Japanese Raëlians rented a racecar and showed it to Vorilhon. They believed that if Vorilhon would race it, it would generate publicity for the movement. Vorilhon accepted the offer on the condition that the funding not come from member tithes or embassy funding. Funding for Vorilhon's races, which took place in the 1990s and early 2000s, came mostly from well-funded European and Japanese people.[30] His best finishes included "a 3rd place finish in GT 1 in Lime Rock with the Mosler Raptor in 1997, and a 7th place finish at Watkins Glen with a Viper GTS R in the FIA GT 1999 race".[31] Vorilhon, under the name of Raël, participated in the 1999 BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series and the 2000 Speedvision GT Championship. According to Palmer, Vorilhon made an announcement in November 2001 that he intended to retire from professional auto racing. She said that Vorilhon still enjoyed automobile racing, albeit in the form of video games.[30]

1999 BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series
Round Date Car Start Finish Laps Track Source
Two 23 May 1999 Chevrolet 21st 19th 35 out of 40 Mosport International Raceway[32]
Three 31 May 1999 Chevrolet Camaro 32nd Lime Rock Park[33]
Four 6 June 1999 Chevrolet Camaro 32nd Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course[34]
Five 10 July 1999 Chevrolet Camaro 38th Road America[35]
Six 25 July 1999 Chevrolet Camaro 44th Road Atlanta[36]
Seven 1 August 1999 Chevrolet Camaro 45th Circuit Trois-Rivières[37]
Eight 7 August 1999 Chevrolet Camaro 47th Detroit street circuit[38]
4 September 1999 Chevrolet Camaro 50th Molson Indy Vancouver[39]
Eleven 25 September 1999 Chevrolet Camaro 52nd Grand Prix of Houston[40]
2000 Speedvision GT Championship events
Round Date Car Start Finish Laps Track Source
One 1 April 2000 Lotus Esprit 29th 32nd 15 out of 29 Lowe's Motor Speedway[41]
Two 21 May 2000 Lotus Esprit 31st 18th 27 out of 27 Mosport International Raceway[42]
Three 27 May 2000 Lotus Esprit 38th Lime Rock Park[43]
Eight 15 October 2000 Porsche 911 GT3 32nd 25th 25 out of 26 Laguna Seca Raceway[44]
Nine 29 October 2000 Porsche 911 GT3 25th 25th 29 out of 30 Las Vegas Motor Speedway[45]

Views on technology[edit]

Much of Vorilhon's advocacy concerning futuristic technology is described in his 2001 book, Yes to Human Cloning. He supported human genetic engineering in order to avoid genetically inherited diseases and to reduce the economic burden on society. He said that no distinctive emphasis needed to be allocated to a particular race or religion.[46][47] Elsewhere in the book, he stated that nanotechnology will make it possible to have micro-distributive power generation (essentially a power plant in each house), fur-like furnishings that are self-cleaning with hair-like fibers that move on their own,[48] and biological robots.[49] Nanostructures control biology, so Vorilhon expected that meat and salads will someday be grown in a machine via molecular construction.[50][51]

Vorilhon believed that genetically modified food is the only way to stop hunger everywhere in the world, and he saw a future where qualities of different foods can be combined through direct genetic modification.[52] In Vorilhon's book, Extraterrestrials took me to their planet (book number 2 in the volume Intelligent Design), he said that animation of plant life was possible through nanotechnology and that he was presented genetically modified flowers, that swayed and changed colors with music, while on another planet.[53]


Appearances in the media[edit]

In 1992, Vorilhon appeared on Ciel mon Mardi, a French talk show hosted by journalist Christophe Dechavanne. Toward the end of the show, Vorilhon’s liberal views on sex were critiqued by a priest, a social worker, and a psychologist. A former Raëlian named Jean Parraga believed that his wife and children were being held as prisoners and that Vorilhon attempted to break up his family. He thought they were being treated like criminals in activities such as orgies and sacrifice involving children at the Sensual Meditation camp. Parraga also had a criminal record as a drug dealer and car thief, and in August 1992, he attempted to shoot Vorilhon.[54]

Raëlians from around the world sent letters of protest to Dechevanne's TV station. Dechavanne felt that this was "incitement to violence" and sued Vorilhon. The judge appointed to the case decided to question Vorilhon. Vorilhon agreed to ask his members to stop sending letters if the station apologized publicly. The two parties agreed to drop the feud.[54]

In 2004, Vorilhon appeared on the first airing of the Quebec version of the French talk show Tout le monde en parle, hosted by Guy A. Lepage. During this appearance, Vorilhon upset panel members with his statements on democracy and cloning. The situation reached its peak when caricaturist Serge Chapleau called Vorilhon a "farce" and a "nerd", ridiculed his clothes, and grabbed him by the chignon. Vorilhon left the stage, followed by his disciples. A fellow guest at the show, Parti Québécois Member of Quebec Legislative Assembly Pauline Marois, called Vorilhon "insane". The Raëlian Movement asked Marois to apologize, which she refused.[55]

A Swiss newspaper, who called Raëlians "rat heads", was sued for defamation. Another suit was brought against journalist Stephane Baillargeon for writing in the Montreal daily Le Devoir that the Raëlians defended pedophiles and that certain ex-Raëlians claimed the "gourou" liked very young girls. After some negotiation, Le Devoir published a letter from Vorilhon condemning the charge as "ignominious defamation" and asserting that the Raëlian Movement had "always condemned pedophilia and promoted respect for laws that justly forbid the practices that are always the fault of unbalanced individuals".[54]

Appearances in court[edit]

In 1991, Vorilhon sued French journalist Jean-Yves Cashga for defamation; Vorilhon lost, however, and was ordered to pay court costs. The judgment remains uncollected. Amidst growing legal problems in France, Vorilhon decided to emigrate to Canada.

On two separate court dates of 2 September 1994 at the High Courts of Paris and 1 October 1996 at the Appeal Court of Paris, journalists Jacques Cotta and Pascal Martin of Flammarion Publishing were found guilty of attributing racist statements and distorted quotations to Vorilhon in their book Dans le secret des sectes. They were fined 10,000FF in damages and 13,000FF in proceedings costs. They were also ordered to insert stickers mentioning the sentence on copies not yet distributed, suppress of the passage in the next editions, and were told that they would be fined 100FF for each non-conforming copy.[56]

On 26 January 1994, in emergency proceedings by the Appeal Court of Reims, Myriam Assan was accused of defamation for claiming in his book that "Raël was often sentenced for corruption of minors". Assan was given a provisional sentence of 10,000FF in damages and ordered to withdraw of the book. He was sentenced to pay a penalty of 300FF per infringement and 5,000FF in proceedings costs and to publish the judgment in Le Monde and Le Figaro.[56]

On 13 December 1994, Gérard Chol, director of Le Maine Libre, was declared guilty by the High Court of Le Mans for public defamation for claiming that the Vorilhon's movement was laundering money coming from drug trafficking, prostitution, arms dealing, and the sale of pornographic videotapes. Chol was ordered to pay 1FF in damages and 3,000FF in proceedings costs and to publish the penal judgment in Le Maine Libre.[56]

In 2003, Vorilhon sued Ottawa columnist Denis Gratton and Le Droit newspaper for $85,000 in defamation damages over a 23 January 2003 column; Vorilhon lost and was ordered to pay court costs by Quebec Superior Court on 21 June 2006.[57]

Government action against Vorilhon[edit]

In response to Vorilhon's association with Clonaid, South Korean immigration authorities at the airport denied him entry into their country in 2003.[58] A planned Raëlian seminar continued, with Vorilhon making some brief "big screen" video-camera appearances via the internet for the several hundred who attended. Raëlians of South Korea were instructed by Raël to protest near the Ministry of Health and Welfare that ordered him to leave.[29][58]

Officials detained Vorilhon for nine hours at Incheon International Airport before he and his wife, Sophie de Niverville, left for Tokyo. From there, they took another plane back to Canada. Vorilhon responded by saying that Korean officials treated him like a "North Korean" and that he would wait for an apology before coming back to Korea.[29]

Raëlians say they encourage adult homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual relationships and that society should recognize them legally.[59] Government authorities, such as those in Switzerland, fear that Raëlians are a threat to public morals for supporting liberalized sex education for children. The authorities believe that such liberalized sex education teaches youth how to obtain sexual gratification, which would encourage sexual abuse of underage children.[2] The Raëlians disagree with those fears and state that sex education done properly would involve educating parents as well as children.[60]

In February 2007, Vorilhon, who wanted to start commercial activities with Swiss vintners, was denied residence in the Swiss Canton Valais, in part for promoting the concept of sexual liberty and sexual education. Also cited was his association with the Clonaid human cloning claim; Switzerland forbade human cloning. In a brief statement, Vorhilon said he considered appeal at the European level.[2]


  • 1966: "Sacrée sale gueule"[61]
  • 1966: "Dans un verre de vin"[62]
  • 1967: "Le Miel et la cannelle" (Honey and cinnamon)[63]
  • 1967: "Madam' Pipi" (Mrs. Toilet attendant)[64]
  • 1967: "Monsieur votre femme me trompe" (Mister, your wife is cheating on me)[65]
  • 1967: "Quand on se mariera" (When we'll get married)[66]


  • 1974: Le Livre qui dit la vérité ("The Book Which Tells the Truth")
  • 1975: Les extra-terrestres m'ont emmené sur leur planète ("Extraterrestrials Took me to Their Planet")
    • (collected in English as "The Message Given to Me by Extra-Terrestrials") ISBN 4-900480-05-3
  • 1978: La géniocratie ("Geniocracy")
  • 1979: Accueillir les extra-terrestres ("Let's Welcome the Extraterrestrials") ISBN 4-900480-06-1
  • 1980: La méditation sensuelle ("Sensual Meditation") ISBN 1-903571-07-3
  • 1992: Le racisme religieux financé par le gouvernement socialiste
  • 1995: Vive le Québec libre!
  • 2001: Oui au clonage humain ("Yes to Human Cloning") ISBN 1-903571-05-7
  • 2003: Le Maitraya ("The Maitraya")
  • 2006: Intelligent Design: Message from the Designers -recompiled English compilation of the 1974,1975 and 1979 books ISBN 2-940252-20-3

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Raël, Intelligent Design, p. 123.
  2. ^ a b c Cult leader Raël denied residence in Switzerland, Agence France-Presse. 19 February 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
  3. ^ a b AutoPop, la revue des pilotes Raël : Messie ou Menteur ?. Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  4. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, pp. 135–6.
  5. ^ Raël's Bio Raëlian Official Website
  6. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, Photo Section
  7. ^ a b c Palmer, p. 32.
  8. ^ Palmer, p. 32-33.
  9. ^ a b Palmer, p. 34.
  10. ^ a b Raël, Intelligent Design 135–6.
  11. ^ a b AutoPop, la revue des pilotes Raël : Messie ou Menteur ?. Retrieved 20 June 2007
  12. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, 11–109.
  13. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, 90, 107, 113, 159.
  14. ^ Harvey, Neil, AND NOW THIS A COMPENDIUM OF NEWS, The Roanoke Times. 23 September 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
  15. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, 11.
  16. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, 161–5.
  17. ^ Segall, Rebecca, Close Encounter of the Raëlian Kind, The Village Voice. 4 September 2001. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
  18. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, 11, 33, 88, 293, 332.
  19. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, 73.
  20. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, 101–104.
  21. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, 10–79.
  22. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design 163–4.
  23. ^ a b Palmer, p. 43.
  24. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design; 290–1.
  25. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design 139–40.
  26. ^ Palmer, p. 54-5.
  27. ^ Lewis, p. 127.
  28. ^ Palmer, p. 43-5.
  29. ^ a b c d Goodenough, Patrick, Cloning Cult Miffed About Treatment of Leader, Cybercast News Service. 6 August 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
  30. ^ a b Palmer, p. 41.
  31. ^ Raël to compete in Charlotte 27 March 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  32. ^ Mosport Race Report, Results and Points, 23 May 1999. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  33. ^ Mosport Lime Rock Park Trans-Am Race Story, Results and Points, 31 May 1999. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  34. ^ Mid Ohio Race Story and Results, 6 June 1999. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  35. ^ BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Road America Results, 10 July 1999. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  36. ^ Mosport Road Atlanta Trans-Am Story, Results, Points, 25 July 1999. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  37. ^ Trois-Rivieres Race Report, 1 August 1999. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  38. ^ Detroit Race Report, 7 August 1999. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  39. ^ Vancouver Results, Points, 4 September 1999. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  40. ^ Houston Trans-Am Series Race Story, Results and Points, 25 September 1999. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  41. ^ Charlotte GT Opener Race Results, 1 April 2000. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  42. ^ Mosport GT results, 21 May 2000. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  43. ^ Lime Rock Park line up GT, Touring, 27 May 2000. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  44. ^ Laguna Seca Fitzgerald wins third straight in GT, 15 October 2000. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  45. ^ Las Vegas GT results, 30 October 2000. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  46. ^ Raël's press conference in London, Raël Press File. 5 February 2002. Retrieved 6 August 2006.
  47. ^ Raël, Yes to Human Cloning, p. 51-55.
  48. ^ Raël, Yes to Human Cloning, p. 133-6.
  49. ^ Raël, Yes to Human Cloning, p. 132.
  50. ^ Brown, DeNeen L., The Leader of UFO Land, Washington Post. 17 January 2003. Retrieved 3 May 2007.
  51. ^ Raël, Yes to Human Cloning, p. 72.
  52. ^ Raël, Yes to Human Cloning, p. 57-60.
  53. ^ Raël, Intelligent Design, p. 138.
  54. ^ a b c Susan J. Palmer, The Raël Deal, Religion in the News, Summer 2001, Vol. 4, No. 2.
  55. ^ Radio-Canada (September 21, 2004). "Marois refuse de s'excuser à Raël". Retrieved January 28, 2013. 
  56. ^ a b c The Raëlian Movement, Human Rights Without Frontiers. Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  57. ^ Block, Irwin, Welcome to real world, judge tells head Raëlian, Montreal Gazette. 3 July 2006. Retrieved on 5 July 2006.
  58. ^ a b Ji-young, So, Raëlian Cult Leader Threatens to Sue Korea Over Denied Entry, Korea Times. 3 August 2003. Retrieved 12 March 2007
  59. ^ Left Clones, National Review. Retrieved 9 September 2007.
  60. ^ Pedophilia accusations are pure discrimination, 23 August 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2007.
  61. ^ Claude Celler – Sacrée sale gueule, Bide&Musique. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  62. ^ Claude Celler – Dans un verre de vine, Bide&Musique. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  63. ^ Claude Celler – Le Miel et la Cannelle, Bide&Musique. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  64. ^ Claude Celler – Madam' Pipi, Bide&Musique. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  65. ^ Claude Celler – Monsieur votre femme me trompe, Bide&Musique. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  66. ^ Claude Celler – Quand on se mariera, Bide&Musique. Retrieved 19 August 2007.