Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UFO cult touches down in Cambodia

Dan Thibault with Am VIchet, the head of the Cambodian Raelian Association.
Dan Thibault with Am VIchet, the head of the Cambodian Raelian Association. Charlotte Pert

UFO cult touches down in Cambodia

The world’s largest UFO cult has reached Cambodia.

“People are not [ready] yet, but we will keep trying to spread the message,” said Am Vichet, the head of the Cambodian chapter of the Raelian Movement, which believes a group of scientists created life 25,000 years ago in a laboratory.

The 41-year old, who works at reproductive health NGO Marie Stopes, said he became a Raelian in 2007 after attending a lecture where the cult’s philosophy was explained. “I want to learn new things. Then, at that time, I joined a lecture and they showed me a video and I thought it was interesting. But it was not enough just to go one time; I wanted to learn more,” Vichet said.

His next step was to read a book penned by the group’s leader, Frenchman Claude Vorilhon, now known by his acolytes only as Rael and who founded the cult in 1974. He claims to be a reincarnation of Buddha.

Vorilhon, then a journalist for an automobile magazine and racing car test driver, says that, on December 13, 1973, he took a detour on his way to work and wandered around an inactive volcano near Auvergne in France. There, he met an extraterrestrial called Yahweh Elohim, who explained “the message”.

The message was simple: life on Earth is the scientifically engineered creation of an advanced alien civilisation, and Vorilhon’s mission on this planet is to prepare humankind for their eventual return.

One of the main goals of Raelism is to build a $20 million embassy for the Elohim, preferably in Israel. Perhaps due to Raelism’s symbol – a swastika enveloped in a Star of David – the movement is banned in the birthplace of Judaism.

So Raelians are looking eastward and, last January, applied to the Council of Ministers in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The project, which the letter states will generate “several billion euros of revenue, as well as additional spinoff ventures”, will make Cambodians “the first [people] to benefit from the Elohim’s highly advanced technologies”.

But more than a year after the application was submitted, Rael has yet to receive a response from Phnom Penh.

Ek Tha, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said that although he was not aware of the application, he would welcome an extraterrestrial movement in Cambodia.

“I myself have researched UFOs and extraterrestrial life for the last two years,” he said.

“To me, this would be great if we can start an alien movement or institution in Cambodia. We are not alone, my friend. When I tell my friends at work, nobody believes me.”

But any attempt to build the embassy may come up against practical obstacles, according to Dan Thibault, a French-Canadian who travels across Asia spreading Rael’s teachings and was in Phnom Penh last week to hold a public lecture.

“The problem is political . . . the problem is the extra-territoriality, the airspace. We need a protected airspace, like a no-fly zone over the embassy,” Thibault said. “The country that will organise the embassy will be the spiritual and cultural centre of the union to come. It’s a really big thing.”

The symbol of the cult is a star of David with a swastika inside.  PHOTO SUPPLIED
The symbol of the cult is a star of David with a swastika inside. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Vichet explained how he began to accept the Raelians’ ideas after he read Vorilhon’s first book, The Book Which Tells the Truth, which Vichet recently translated into Khmer.

“I started thinking what our natural state was, and one day you can see these things in the sky, and then I thought, oh, it’s true. And then that night I saw the lights again and after that I start to become a Raelian,” Vichet said.

“After that, my life changed. I learn and I read the books and I changed a lot of what I used to think, like negative thinking, and I changed myself.”

The movement claims to be expanding in Asia, boosted by growing followings in China and Japan. Three Cambodians turned up to the meeting last week, at which Thibault delved further into Raelian philosophy.

“Life has been created 25,000 years ago. The Elohim came here, they were a group of scientists who had mastered DNA, and they created all forms of life on this planet,” he said. “They sent all the gods – Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses – all the prophets sent throughout history. We live in the scientific era and at this time we can create life significantly in laboratories, which means we are equal to gods.”

To appeal to Asia’s Buddhist masses, Raelians have tailored their teachings to the students of the Buddha.

Rael now claims to be the Maitreya, the reincarnation of the Buddha. He said the date of his meeting with Yahweh Elohim corresponds with the Buddhist calendar year 3000, when the sutras state the Buddha shall reappear. The new Buddha, the sutras continue, “will come from the west” in “the land of the cock”, which is a national symbol of France.

But controversies over attempts at human cloning in Europe have led to Vorilhon’s exile from France, where there is a warrant out for his arrest.

“We want to live forever. [Human cloning] is the first step towards eternal life,” Thibault said. “It sounds, perhaps, crazy, but some scientists are working right now on downloading your personality. We’ll be able to download our personality from our brain to a computer.

“The next step is you upload your personality into a new body. We’re going to do that, it’s just a matter of time.”

Proposed plans for the ‘embassy’ that the Raelians say they hope to build in Cambodia.  PHOTO SUPPLIED
Proposed plans for the ‘embassy’ that the Raelians say they hope to build in Cambodia. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Despite the movement’s expressed alignment with Buddhist values, since its first seminar in 2006, it has only managed to attract 10 adherents in Cambodia.

“We just have a very small number in Cambodia,” said Vichet, adding that he hopes more people will hear the message now that he has translated one of Vorilhon’s books into Khmer. “Most of the Cambodian people, they don’t want to read, especially big books. They don’t want to read a whole story.”

Raelism, which now claims to have close to 85,000 members in more than 100 countries, has courted controversy in an attempt to gain notoriety and support, including campaigns for public nudity, LGBT rights and setting up a clinic in Burkina Faso to reconstruct women’s genitals after they have suffered female genital mutilation.

They also hope to attract celebrity support, much like Scientology.

“We met Michael Jackson; Rael met Russell Brand in the past year. But the fear, they don’t want to identify themselves publicly,” Thibault said, shortly after playing an animated video showing the four-foot-tall Elohim, who look remarkably similar to Jackson, meeting Vorilhon.

Mike Kropveld, executive director of the Montreal-based InfoCult, which has documented Raelism for about 30 years, said that the group is attempting a two-pronged approach to move into Asia.

“They have been trying for years to move into other countries. They have been raising money endlessly [to do this],” he said. “At the same time, they’ve been trying to get Israel to form an embassy. I don’t know why they want an embassy in Cambodia.

“They also often move into the shock area, or something that’s titillating, like the topless campaign. A more accurate [membership] figure would be 5,000, of people who would consider themselves members.”

Kropveld said that Raelism appeals to disillusioned followers of many religions.

“It has had an appeal here, some of the messages the group subscribes to, it’s like a church in terms of the treatment of women, going to heaven, going to where the creators are,” he said. “It’s not really so far off from what [new members] believed before. They kind of have a global religious perspective.”

While Raelian leaders say Buddhism is compatible with their beliefs, Vichet stopped practising around the time he became a Raelin “guide” through a baptism ceremony in 2007. Through the ceremony, Vichet believes his “cellular plan” was transmitted to a computer in preparation for judgment when the Elohim return in 2035.

“We do a baptism to get the plan transmitted and become a Raelian. The baptism actually is physical . . . everybody has vibrations, you transmit these vibrations.”



Please, login or register to post a comment
Ely Raelian's picture

Nice article, globally, but I want to correct some information: first, the Raelian Movement is NOT banned in Israel, even if this country will soon be called Palestine. See for yourself this picture , then many other funny little details are almost correct but it would be too long to explain here... You better download the book for free: (for English) Peace and Love

Tim in SF's picture

The word "cult" is used several times in this article but never defined. "Cult" is a loaded word that should not be toss around casually.

I find the descriptions of this religious group to be very strange and bizarre, but I cannot determine from the article how this group is any more strange and bizarre than Scientology, Christianity, or Mormonism. Nobody would dare refer to Scientology, Christianity, or Mormonism as cults, so I'm not sure why the author thinks it is appropriate to describe this group of crazy idiots as a cult, either.

sawyer's picture

I have some circumstantial but powerful evidence that Claude Vorilhon is a type of reincarnation of Saul of Tarsus that as a contactee because Rael just as Saul became Paul. It's not important whether this is true or not. What's important to CONSIDER is how Rael is being led to design an organization that more and more looks like Catholicism and a Buddist mix, as he has claimed to be a "christ" and the Maitreya, essentially the same Being who was here before saying He was coming again. When one looks at the teaching of Jesus pretaining to "leaving all behind" as His disciples did to Guatama Buddha's teachings of renunciation of all the worlds activities and pleasures, though on both cases have becomed distorted ideas that have found themselves a societal success where monks and nuns are by many looked up to as holy verses those that don't find that kind of dedication believing if they at least believe in the person that required these things they too would reap the same rewards, while even the Monks and Nuns would also have to come to renounce their religion, that is by the time of the Master's return for his sheep who would then require all to equally leave all behind which becomes very, very hard to do when one has found success and comrades and even wealth and purpose and stimulating ideas, in exhange for somone who may seem to say the same kinds of things but without all those human Self-aggrandizing. Thus these teachings become the opposite of what the ONES that taught these ideas of separation from human worldliness intended and makes these teachings along with the millions of other religious teachings actually "killers of souls" as they are at best a facsimile of the full truth. Like so many disinformation campaigns, they are very selective of what they want to include in their doctrine so to show all from all walks of like an avenue through their door and they make money hand over fist in doing so and use it to build "embassies" as opposed to calling them "churches or temples". It's very shred and I don't think Rael sees this in any way shape or form, though I could be wrong about that. In my conversations with Rael devotees I have proposed one question to them that no one has yet answered to me and it's not a complicated question. If Rael's contacts are the Elohim that Moses wrote about in Genesis as Rael says they are, saying they are the "scientists" that created humans whatever thousands of years ago, why is it when Rael had his first introductory meetings with the beings that contacted him, presumably on a space craft where Rael met one who called himself "lucifer" and one who called himself "satan" and where he was shown a clone making computer system - put in a head bone fragment of DNA and out pops a clone of us - certainly foregoing any need for much of a hybridization program, unless that is, that computer system is filled with dna and a facility to allow them to do what they would otherwise do in a womb when fertilized that would necessitate a storehouse of the needed cells and hormones, eggs, sperm, etc, thus a desire to have a living herd of like minded samples. In anycase, back to my question I asked Rael's believers. If these, his people are the Moses Elohim why did they tell Rael that they "DON'T CREATE PLANETS" when those same Moses depicted Elohim said they created the Earth, a planet?

They even said, that they "outlive planets" because in each clone body they make with their computer they get 700 years out of and do that over and over until the planet for whatever reason ceases to become an environment for life forms as we know them. I am quite content that these who choose to believe in Rael's Elohim have that chance just as I am content for Christians to think "Jesus did it for us" - in other words died and overcame the human world, went though all that so that we wouldn't have to because he loves us so much, though I know this couldn't be further from the truth. He did come to do it for us, but not so we wouldn't have to as otherwise we would be worthless to the environment and family Jesus was from. He simply was showing us what we must do exactly as he, even to the degree of renunciation of all things human which would greatly anger the entrenched religionists of his day. To close this little comment. I have a great amount of evidence that Rael is about as far afield as Billy Graham and Oral Roberts and all the Hindu and Buddhist and Christian leaders, at least since Constantine built the first Roman Catholic churches Church. Where did I get the evidence. I got it from those who were the very first official "UFO Cult" but far from an oridnary Cult but a cult of cults as provided by Two Individuals who said they came from the Evolutionary Level Above Human where members drove physical spacecrafts and that they were from the same family as Jesus to bring the same message plus updates as prophecied. They later when they had gathered their 42 first fruit exited the human containers they took for their task by "laying them down" to sleep/death and their souls soon thereafter joined with a spacecraft that was a companion to the Hale Bopp Comet. See, Rael has his space alien leaders do tricks for him to convince humans but these Two did no tricks. Their most recent names were Ti and Do and they still answer to those names if someone sincerely has a question for them but as they are not in human vehicles any longer you simply need to state your desire to talk with them in your privacy. But this is serious I am talking about while organizations like Rael's are just another brand of country club religion, get converts, give them self esteem, hope for a bright future, lots of sex, love and maybe even rock and roll, wear nice white robes, really look the spiritual part just as Jesus spoke against that as with Christians will never be quoted of if is with some strange explanation so people can choose what to believe as that's what separates us from animals, we can choose what to believe and thus what to become so the designers the true Ones who were called the Judges/supreme beings (Elohim) will know which spirits or souls are worth keeping around for a future "garden" planting to then raise to a hopeful graduation that means ceasing to be human. All the space aliens are human or human equivalents no matter what they look like.

sawyer's picture

sorry I just posted twice with different titles. I didn't see the message that said my comment would have to be reviewed before posting which I fully understand but sometimes my comments don't post places but don't tell me why and sometimes they fail because I tend to be wordy as is quite evident.

rv's picture

No worries, Sawyer; I just published your first comment and deleted the second. Sometimes there may be a little delay before I get around to approving a comment. Cheers.

alexyoung's picture

Great News!

bern2b's picture

Congratulation for this article. It give a good overall, even if sometime the author talk about Cult and say some wrong thing about the Ralian Movement.

For the people to get a good idea of the Ralian mission is to read the Elohim message at: you can download all the books for free.

Come and join us, this is the future of our humanity !!!

Latest Video

Phnom Penh eats: Where shaved ice meets a sugar rush

Shaved ice, fruit toppings, and a squirt of cream – these are the ingredients to make a perfect bingsu.

Temple exploring in Cambodia without the crowds

Those who make the journey almost 100km from Preah Vihear province’s capital Tbaeng Meanchey to the 11th century remains of Preah Khan Kompong Svay will be richly rewarded.