When President George Bush gave his State of the Union address Tuesday it was reported (“Bush Touts Religion-Based Drug Treatment,” Associated Press, January 29, 2003 by Laura Meckler) that Henry Lozano of Teen Challenge in California, was sitting with the first lady throughout the presentation.

Bush pushed the idea of funding faith-based drug rehab programs with federal money.

But would it be appropriate to include Teen Challenge within such a scheme?

According to Teen Challenge literature its entire approach can be summarized as “Basic Confrontational Evangelism.” And the organization has stated specifically, “The only cure for . . . drug abuse, is Jesus Christ.”

The Teen Challenge program is essentially religious training and indoctrination.

There is nothing wrong with including faith as a meaningful component when confronting drug abuse. And such approaches can be successful.

But should federal money be used to pay for a sectarian cure? This would certainly seem to set a troubling precedent.

Before televangelist Pat Robertson received $500,000 for a pet program through Bush faith-based funding, he pointedly objected to the president’s project.

Robertson previously said such grants would be like opening “Pandora’s Box.” And that once opened would not easily be shut.

How can the federal government decide which theologically based cures should be funded?

Would Scientology’s Narconon drug rehab receive federal money? What about Krishna? They might have a substance abuse solution based upon chanting? Maybe the Raelians have some special cure coming from outer space?

Will the government now be in the business of judging which religion works best?

“Cult” leader Claude Vorilhon, who calls himself “Rael,” now tacitly admits the obvious. And if cloning claims made by his Raelian Bishop Brigitte Bosselier are a “hoax” he’s happy anyway, reported Associated Press.

Rael said, “If it’s not true…it’s wonderful. Because…the whole world knows about the Raelian movement. I am very happy with that.”


By the way, no DNA testing or any meaningful independent verification will be allowed to verify Raelian cloning claims. Of course there were excuses offered. And a Raelian “cloning machine” recently exhibited was only loaned out on the condition it not be examined.

So the man who claims he is the descendent of a space alien is now acknowledging what should have been clear to the media from the beginning. That is, the whole cloning thing was a contrived publicity stunt to gain the ego-driven “cult” attention.

The apparently delusional Rael now sees himself as a player on the world stage. He recently made statements about the pending possibility of war in Iraq and pronouncements about the UN, reported The Calgary Sun.

The seeming megalomaniac said, “I’ve informed the entire planet of my message.”

Uh huh.

It looks like it might be time for Rael to return to his compound called “UFO Land.” Or maybe he should just hop a spaceship and go back to the planet where he claims to have met Jesus and Buddha. The “cult” leader certainly doesn’t appear to be grounded in the reality of this world.

Isn’t it time for the media to stop reporting about Rael? Why does the apparent faker continue to rate so much ink and attention?

In an ongoing analysis redacting events that lead to the Raelians successfully creating a promotional bonanza last month, many pundits have been critical of how easily the “cult” manipulated the media for puff pieces and featured coverage.

But the Raelians are not the only “cult” that seems to be good at conning the press.

Witness the willingness of journalists to frequently provide a pulpit for the Falun Gong followers of Li Hongzhi, from which they preach their version of events in China and allegations of “persecution.”

Recent coverage included a sympathetic look at the group’s ongoing vigil near the New York City Chinese Consulate, reports North Jersey.com.

However, this report like so many others does not mention Hongzhi’s racist teachings and his penchant for condemning gays. The Falun Gong leader teaches that interracial marriage is evil and that homosexuals are an abomination.

But North Jersey.com simply says, “the movement focuses on perfecting individual moral character by reflecting on truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.”

How does racism and bigotry perfect “moral character” or reflect “compassion” or “forbearance”?

And what about Hongzhi’s writings touting his supernatural powers, special revelations and claims about alien beings from outer space? Is this the “truthfulness” the reporter is referring to?

According to this recent article Falun Gong is simply, “a spiritual movement based on traditional Chinese ‘qigong’ meditation exercises.”

But how do space aliens fit within “traditional Chinese ‘gigong'”?

Never mind.

Most reports about the Raelians did include the bizarre beliefs held by that group. But for some reason many within the media either don’t research Falun Gong in-depth, or simply refuse to report about the group’s strange claims.

North Jersey.com says that Hongzhi started Falun Gong “in part as a response to a lack of medical care in China.”

But Hongzhi’s “response” was to teach his followers that the practice of Falun Gong would somehow affect their physical health and/or ailments. This led many to reject “medical care,” which often led to death.

When the Chinese government responded to Falun Gong largely as a public health hazard, Hongzhi organized a mass protest, an unsettling spectacle in orderly China.

Since that time the Falun Gong leader has played the media to promote his supposed role as a “victim.” And the NYC vigils recently reported are part of carefully coordinated effort, managed through a network of well-organized Hongzhi operatives.

The Raelians claim a global membership of 55,000, though experts estimate their number is actually closer to 5,000.

In similar fashion Falun Gong makes unsupported claims that they have “millions” of members. And the press often reports this with little if any critical balance.

What are the facts about Falun Gong?

It seems that the group called an “evil cult” in China, is led by a man much like Rael, who cynically manipulates both his followers and the media for his own purposes.

And though Hongzhi’s devotees may be arrested and/or jailed, their leader lives comfortably tucked away in “exile.”

Isn’t it time for pundits to scrutinize this “cult” leader and his brand of self-promotion? It seems Hongzhi’s media hype deserves the same critical analysis offered up concerning coverage of the Raelians and their claims.

Claude Vorihon, now known as “Rael,” achieved religious tax-exempt status in Canada and has done well there. But some Canadians are now apparently questioning that status and his comfy situation near Quebec, reports The National Post.

After all Vorilhon left France with an unpaid tax bill of about $500,000 and was never recognized as a religion there. The only thing the French recognized was that his “cult” was one of the most “dangerous in the world.” Rael was also implicated in “various sex-related charges.”

A French documentary reported the rape of an 11-year-old child within the group.

After leaving France under a cloud Vorihon winged his way to Canada where he soon settled with a core group of followers near Quebec.

Now the Canadian press is questioning how this man was allowed to immigrate and then given religious tax-exempt status, considering his well-documented and troubled history.

Who allowed this and why?

Here are some of the questions now being raised about the man who claims he is the son of an alien being from another planet and his followers, the so-called “Raelians.”

“Does this cult, which requires people to participate in orgies and women to have sex with Vorilhon on demand, break any laws or transgress the rights of individuals or minors?”

“Does the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency know how much money is coming into this charity, how it is obtained and from whom?”

“Do Canadian tax officials audit this organization to assess whether it deserves tax-free status? How was this status obtained? Where does the money go?”

“Is the money used strictly for charitable purposes or is it used to keep the founder in the lifestyle to which he’s become accustomed?”

“Does the group’s propaganda contain disclaimers or is the cult allowed to make wild promises about cloning, living forever and extraterrestrials granting eternal life with impunity?”

“Are the children of members of this cult being properly supervised and protected?”

“Are the children of Raelians being properly educated under the law?”

“Isn’t cloning against the law, and if it was undertaken by the cult anywhere, would that constitute grounds to remove its tax-free status in Canada?”

Vorilhon also essentially sponsors himself through “UFO Land” in auto races and drives a costly car. Where does the money to pay for that come from?

Maybe it’s time for another press conference so Rael can answer more questions. But this time he might not like the limelight.

A French official dryly observed, “We’re not very proud of the fact that [Rael] is French.” And some Canadians now fear they are “stuck with him.”

Many news analysts have recently observed that North Korea is not so much a “Communist state” as it is a personality-driven “cult.”

A dictatorial dynasty rules the country, which was first established by the current leader’s father

Noted psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, once studied the methodology of “education” used by North Korea within prisoner of war camps in the fifties. His conclusions were published within his seminal book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism.

What can easily be seen from Lifton’s writings is that North Korea has a long-standing and well-established expertise in what is commonly called “brainwashing.”

Its absolute authoritarian leader, Kim Jong Il, known now as “Great Leader,” controls all the media, military and environment. Lifton calls this “milieu control,” which is the foundation for a thought reform program.

Something called “Juche,” is the detailed dogma or ideology used to control the North Korean population, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

Lifton calls such an ideology the “Sacred Science” of Totalism.

Like many cult leaders Kim has exploited his followers, it is estimated that he holds $2 to $4 billion dollars in European banks. He also lives lavishly, while most of his people go hungry. During the 1990s mass starvation took the lives of 2 million in North Korea.

But North Koreans are still officially called “Kim Il Sung’s people.”

Sounds a bit like “Sci-fi cult” leader “Rael” calling his followers the “Raelians” or David Koresh and his “Davidians” doesn’t it?

This is what Lifton calls “Doctrine over Person.” That is, when the group uses its dogma to supercede and blur individual identity.

Kim’s regime is certainly a closed system not easily permeated by outside ideas; the country can be seen as little more than a giant cult compound.

One expert says that North Korea has “carefully constructed illusions.” And such cultic “illusions” often whither when subjected to an outside frame of reference and the free exchange of ideas.

According to recent reports there is now some critical “whispering” about the “Great Leader” within his nation compound. Perhaps “Kim Il Sung’s people” are beginning to consider the possibility of a future without a cult leader.

Lifton has written extensively about cults and “cult formation.” He lists three primary hallmarks that define a destructive cult.

1. A charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;

2. a process I call coercive persuasion or thought reform;

3. economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

Sounds just like North Korea.

A professor on the faculty of Alabama A & M in Huntsville is a Raelian spokesperson, reports Associated Press.

Professor Hortense Dodo thinks of herself as not only a microbiologist, but also “something like a priest” and says she is interested in “reaching out,” which apparently means recruiting for the Raelians. The teacher insists though, that she keeps her proselytizing out of the classroom.

Dodo is researching the possibility of producing an allergen-free peanut through cloning. No definitive breakthrough yet for the professor.

Interestingly, the Dodo is also an extinct bird known for its stupidity.

However, the Alabama microbiologist has probably had better luck cloning peanuts than another Raelian “scientist” Brigitte Boisselier has had with humans. Boisselier continues to claim success, but offers no proof.

The Raelians also claim they have 55,000 members worldwide, though there are only five in Huntsville.

Not unlike cloning claims, Raelians appear to grossly exaggerate their membership. Objective reports place the number of active Raelians at about 5,000.

Claude Vorilhon now known as “Rael” has finally fulfilled his childhood fantasies and became famous, or some might observe infamous.

But whatever anyone says the “clone cult” leader now has the attention he apparently always craved.

However, a biography based upon facts rather than self-promotion and science fiction is finally emerging about Vorilhon, reports the London Mail.

Vorilhon was apparently a failure before he became “Rael.” The would-be pop star, racecar driver and magazine publisher, had what appears to be a history of unfulfilled fantasies.

The self-proclaimed prophet who says he once visited another planet is a “monster,” according to his mother. Who says, “What he is doing now is vile. I have not seen him for ten years and I’ll be happy if I never see him again.”

And isn’t it your own family that knows you best?

The facts about the Raelian leader are quite different from the myth he has spun for his fawning followers and the media. Vorilhon failed abysmally as both a father and husband. His two children reportedly even want to change their names.

Like other cult leaders such as David Koresh, Charles Manson and Jim Jones, Vorilhon seems to be driven by his own needs, appetites and personal history.

According to the aunt who raised him Vorilhon was “rejected” by his mother. And like many cult leaders with a similarly troubled childhood little Claude grew up with a “self-belief bordering on arrogance,” she said.

Charles Manson never knew his father and his single mother often abandoned him. Jim Jones was estranged from his father who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, his parents divorced when he was 14. David Koresh was also the child of single mother who frequently left him to be raised largely by his grandparents.

Vorilhon insists his father is an alien being from outer space that artificially inseminated his mother.

Personal failures followed. Rael’s aunt says her nephew’s repeated efforts as an adult to become famous “fizzled out.”

Manson and Koresh both had histories of failure. Manson spent much of his life in reformatories as a juvenile and later served prison sentences. Koresh was a ninth grade drop out, who drifted in life and wanted to be a rock musician before joining the Branch Davidians and eventually seizing power in the group.

Vorilhon would fulfill his childhood fantasies by supposedly encountering space aliens in 1973. The aliens would tell him what he had always wanted to hear. That message would be essentially that he was special, chosen and above other men.

David Koresh received the revelation that he was “The Lamb” and saw himself as a messiah. Charles Manson and Jim Jones both believed they were chosen to play pivotal roles in history. And Koresh, Manson and Jones all used their unique position of power to exploit members sexually.

Vorilhon now has a “mission” and his belief system likewise fulfills his personal needs.

Rael’s former wife says he has “some sort of psychological grip” on people. She explains, “The whole Raelian movement was a trick to have more sex and to satisfy the enormous ego and need to be worshipped that he had always had.”

In the end it all sounds like the same old story reported so many times before. The history of the man, who would be “clone” king, is really rather typical when compared to known destructive cult leaders of the past.

It looks like the Raelians are trying to cash in on all the free publicity they received regarding their now seemingly bogus cloning claims.

But the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is watching Clonaid, the company run by Raelian Bishop Brigitte Boisselier, reports Knight Ridder.

Clonaid is trying to sell venture capitalists on pumping in some cash. Investors can get in for a minimum $25,000.

One family says Clonaid bilked them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Clonaid Vice President and Raelian Thomas Kaenzig spoke at the MoneyWorld 2003 Investment and Trading Conference recently held in Florida. He admitted that the SEC has contacted him.

A financial expert said investors should be wary of Clonaid. The analyst concluded, “Until they supply financial disclosure forms and DNA proof of the cloning, this is nothing more than a biotechnology Enron.”

This sounds like an understatement.

Enron and its CEO Ken Lay seem like Standard Oil and Rockefeller when compared to Boisselier and Clonaid.

David Pearl, once a member of a reputed Sci-fi “cult” called “BDX” entered a guilty plea regarding a murder plot, reports the Baltimore Sun.

And what about Pearl’s leader?

Scott Caruthers, the mastermind behind BDX, is using a insanity defense. His lawyer said, “Once the judge has the psychiatric report, I expect my client will be placed under the care of the state for appropriate treatment.”

However, Caruthers’ hopes he won’t be locked up in a mental hospital. His attorney says, “There is no reason that this [should] be inpatient treatment. No one thinks of him as a danger to himself or to others.”


Wasn’t Caruthers charged for planning to kill someone?

However, it is easy to see that the “cult leader” is a mental case. Amongst his grandiose claims Caruthers said he was from outer space.

Hey wait a minute, doesn’t this sound like publicity hound Claude Vorilhon, now known as “Rael,” of recent “Clone Cult” fame? The Raelian leader says his dad was from outer space.

The Caruthers case brings out the often-observed fact that many cult leaders are not exactly poster boys and girls for mental health.

First the Raelians hand picked Michael Guillen as their “expert” to coordinate DNA testing, which would supposedly prove their cloning claims. Later, Guillen was exposed as Clonaid CEO and Raelian bishop Brigette Boisselier’s “friend.”

Skeptics see Guillen as largely an apologist for paranormal claims. He received a “Pigasus” award (“when pigs fly”) from noted debunker James Randi.

Have the Raelians found another friendly “expert”?

Newsweek recently quoted Susan Palmer, a professor at Dawson College in Montreal and the author of a forthcoming book on the Raelians, in an article about the “cult” called “Spaced Out.”

Palmer described Claude Vorilhon or “Rael,” founder and leader of the Raelians, as a ” a playboy and a sportsman and a social satirist.” And she characterized the group as “benign.”

Palmer is also the author of an article which appeared in the Montreal Gazette titled “No sects – please we’re French.” She essentially attacked the French effort to identify and monitor destructive cults. Palmer prefers the politically correct term “new religious movements” (NRMs).

According to Palmer the “Moonies,” Scientologists, Hare Krishnas and of course the Raelians, are all NRMs. She likes to take her college students on “field trips” to the Hare Krishna temple and to witness Raelian baptisms.

Palmer admits, “If I were a French sociologist…I would be out of a job. I would be called a ‘cult lover.'”

Palmer also has defended an anti-Semitic cult group called the “Twelve Tribes,” which was fined for child labor violations in New York and has been the focus of frequent allegations regarding child abuse.

Professor Palmer appears to be more of a cult apologist than an objective observer or “expert.”

Serious questions have been raised about the research of academics like Palmer.

Benjamin Zablocki a professor of sociology at Rutgers University lamented, “The sociology of religion can no longer avoid the unpleasant ethical question of how to deal with the large sums of money being pumped into the field by the religious groups being studied…in the form of subvention of research expenses, subvention of publications, opportunities to sponsor and attend conferences, or direct fees for services, this money is not insignificant, and its influence on research findings and positions taken on scholarly disputes is largely unknown. This is an issue that is slowly but surely building toward a public scandal.”

How has Professor Palmer’s Raelian research and coming book been funded and/or supported? And what fees, money, expenses and/or sponsorships has she received from groups called “cults”?

Maybe James Randi should consider Susan Palmer for a “Pigasus”?