To my surprise, I received a photo of the Raelians demonstrating alongside the truckers and anti-vaxxers in front of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill. It accompanied this baffling email message from an old Raelian friend I used to invite to my “Cults” class at Concordia University: “My consciousness, nowadays, is with the truckers … in Ottawa … for a siege until the end of this sanitary madness, as well as with all the awakened in Canada and around the world.”
What’s going on? I wondered. Since the end of January, thousands of antivax protesters and hundreds of transport trucks have clogged the streets of downtown Ottawa, shutting down businesses and restaurants. The “freedom convoy’ from British Columbia as well as truckers from across Canada have been heading to Parliament Hill to protest a mid-January mandate, which requires drivers returning from the United States who are not fully vaccinated to quarantine. Just today, the Mayor of Ottawa declared a state of emergency over the trucker convoy protest.
And what does Rael, prophet-founder of the world’s largest “flying saucer cult” (to quote Carl G. Jung) have to say about Covid 19? As the author of Aliens Adored: Rael’s UFO Religion, I assumed Rael's advice would be to follow scientifically approved measures. After all, Raelians worship the Elohim; super-scientists from another planet who created humanity “in Their Own Image” from their own alien DNA. The Raelian slogan is: “La Science est notre Religion/Notre Religion est la Science.”
But I was wrong. I had forgotten how Rael tends to be unpredictable. During the AIDS epidemic Rael, unlike most religious leaders, did not blame homosexuals. I had quoted him in my 2000 book, AIDS as an Apocalyptic Metaphor, recommending “Utilisez cette petite merveille de la Science – le condom!”
But today, from his residence in Okinawa, Japan, Rael’s advice is, “No mask. No vaccine.” And as for social distancing, maskless Raelians around the globe are offering “Free Hugs” to passers-by.
I contacted Nicole Bertrand, a top female Bishop in the Raelian Movement who had facilitated my research in the past. In her charming, organized way she noted, “Rael has been sending us memos since the pandemie began, advising us not to comply with government regulations, but to trust in our immune system, which was designed by the Elohim to be very strong.”
(As a Religious Studies professor, I should briefly explain here that, for Raelians, DNA is sacred. DNA is the key to physical immortality. Their dietary laws—no coffee, alcohol or recreational drugs—are meant to safeguard their DNA so they will be eligible for cloning by the godlike extraterrestrials—and the Chosen Ones will be those mortals with pure, godlike DNA.)
And what about wearing masks?
“Rael says the mask interferes with our breathing,” Nicole said, “The Elohim designed us to breathe in and then breathe out, to get rid of toxins.”
Nicole spoke of how she rides le metro regularly and never wears a mask. “Nobody tells me anything. I smile my freedom and I hope they ask themselves some questions. Freedom is our right, and it is our right not to answer questions about our personal health, about Covid-like symptoms.”
Nicole then referred me to her Beloved Prophet’s June 2021 speech in Okinawa where he claimed, “those new, so-called vaccines—which are not real vaccines—contain RNA. After injecting millions of people, researchers discovered that RNA was affecting humanity's DNA.”
So, Rael has advised his yet unvaccinated flock, “Don’t do it. We don’t have the right to modify our DNA with that kind of gene therapy.”
I watched Rael’s video: “How to Build Your Immune System” (Rael Academy, August 2, 2021). Wearing white embroidered robes and cap, Rael, now addressed as “Maitreya,” is looking brown and lean at 75. In his playful manner, with echoes of a Japanese lady interpreter in the background, he instructs his adoring disciples in his strong French accent:
“Your DNA is perfect because it was made by the Elohim. You don’t have the right to modify it. There is no pandemic. There were pandemics in the Middle Ages with streets full of dead people. Do you see that today in Tokyo? No.” (Raelians laughing).
“Give me your microbes and your virus. I love them! They make my body stronger. I am 75. Never had any vaccine. I am very healthy!” (Raelians cheering)
“Stress destroys your immune system. Relax! There is no pandemic. Only the pandemic of fear. The governments are doing some modifications. They want to change human beings and make you sheep. Bahhh! Bahhh!” (Raelians clapping).
Nicole concluded our zoom interview saying, “So, we are totally consistent with our religious belief and understanding of life and health. We follow the Science of the Elohim through the Last Prophet, Rael!”
So, what are the Raelians doing now on Parliament Hill, mingling sans masques with anarchist truckers, Neo-Nazis, the Soldiers of Odin—and whoever defaced the statue of Terry Fox or parked and peed on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier?
“We support every group that is trying to regain their freedom,” replied Nicole. “We don’t tell people what to do, we just want our freedom. If people want to comply, that’s up to them. We are not ‘anti-mask; or ‘anti-vax’—or anti anything. We are pro-Freedom!”