UFO religion

UFO religion

A UFO religion or UFO cult is an informal term used to describe a faith community whose belief in the existence of extraterrestrials and/or UFOs is a central component of its religion and practice.

Though their beliefs are highly varied, UFO religions commonly believe that alien beings exist; that they have played, or are still playing, a key role in human history; and that at some point in the future, humanity will become part of a wider galactic community. The arrival or rediscovery of alien civilizations, technologies and spirituality will enable humans to overcome their current ecological, spiritual and social problems. Issues such as hatred, war, bigotry, poverty and so on are said to be resolvable through the use of superior alien technology and spiritual abilities. Such belief systems have often been described as millenarian in their outlook.Who|date=August 2008

UFO religions have predominantly developed in technologically advanced societies, particularly in the United States, Canada, France and the United Kingdom. They have often emerged at times of particular social and cultural stress.Fact|date=August 2008 The term "flying saucers" and the popular notion of the UFO originated in 1947. The 1950s saw the creation of UFO religions, with the advent of the contactees. The 1990s saw renewed interest, though such religious groups had never gone away.

Notable UFO religions

Aetherius Society

The Aetherius Society was founded in the United Kingdom in the 1950s. Its founder, George King, claimed to have been contacted telepathically by an alien intelligence called Aetherius, who represented an "Interplanetary Parliament." According to Aetherians, their Society acts as a vehicle through which "Cosmic Transmissions" can be disseminated to the rest of humanity.

Heaven's Gate

The Heaven's Gate group achieved notoriety in 1997 when one of its founders convinced 38 followers to commit mass suicide. Members reportedly believed themselves to be aliens, awaiting a spaceship that would arrive with Comet Hale-Bopp. The suicide was undertaken in the apparent belief that their souls would be transported onto the spaceship, which they thought was hiding behind the comet. They underwent elaborate preparations for their trip, including purchasing and wearing matching shoes. For a time, group members lived in a darkened house where they would simulate the experience they expected to have during their long journey in outer space. Heaven's Gate surfaced again in 2006 with another group of converts entitled "Heaven's Gate: The New Generation".


Belief in extraterrestial life in Mormonism has existed since its earliest days. It is taught that there are many deities governing planets throught the universe. Joseph Smith himself stated,

"...the great universe of stars has multiplied beyond the comprehension of men. Evidently each of these great systems is governed by divine law; with divine presiding Gods, for it would be unreasonable to assume that each was not so governed." ["Answers to Gospel Questions" 2:144]

It is taught that these other planets are inhabited by human beings. ["Doctrines of Salvation" 1:62]

Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam subscribes to the belief that UFOs are responsible for "raising mountains" and will destroy the world on the Day of Judgment. Its former leader, Elijah Muhammed, claimed that the Biblical Book of Ezekiel describes a "Motherplane" or "Wheel". The movement's current leader, Louis Farrakhan, describes the "Motherplane" thus:


The International Raëlian Movement has been described as "the largest UFO religion in the world." [Susan J. Palmer, "Women in Controversial New Religions", in "New Religious Movements and Religious Liberty in America", ed. Derek H. Davis & Barry Hankins, p. 66. Baylor University Press, 2004. ISBN 0918954924] Raëlians believe that scientifically advanced extraterrestrials known as the Elohim created life on Earth through genetic engineering, and that a combination of human cloning and "mind transfer" can ultimately provide eternal life. Past religious teachers, like Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad are said to have been sent by these scientifically advanced extraterrestrials to teach humanity. The Elohim are said to be planning a future visit to complete their revelation and education of humanity.

Raelian Priest Thomas said on this topic, "The difference between Raëlians and Heaven's Gate and Jim Jones etc., is that the others destructively believed in a God who would give them a better life after death, just like most believers in a monotheistic religion do today, and hence the risk for suicide chasing after life rewards... as Raëlians we want the best right now in our life, who would want to die now in that scenario with all those pleasures to enjoy? Raëlians believe in enjoying life now, with happiness and laughter." [thomas@rael.org]


Scientology has been discussed in the context of UFO religions in "UFO Religions" by Christopher Partridge, [cite book | last =Partridge | first =Christopher Hugh | title =UFO Religions | publisher =Routledge | date =2003 | pages =188, 263-265 | isbn = 0415263247] "The Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions" by James R. Lewis,cite book | last =Lewis | first =James R. (editor) | authorlink =James R. Lewis | title =The Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions | publisher =Prometheus Books | date =November 2003 | pages =42 | isbn =1573929646 ] and "UFO Religion: Inside Flying Saucer Cults and Culture" by Gregory Reece. [cite book | last =Reece | first =Gregory L. | title =UFO Religion: Inside Flying Saucer Cults and Culture | publisher =I. B. Tauris | date =August 21, 2007 | pages =182-186 | isbn = 1845114515] Stories of extraterrestrial civilizations and alien interventions in past lives form a significant part of the belief system of Scientology. The most famous such story is that of Xenu, the ruler of the Galactic Confederacy who is said to have brought billions of frozen aliens to Earth 75 million years ago, stacked them around volcanoes and blown them up with hydrogen bombs. From the early 1950s onwards, Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, published a number of books, lectures and other works describing what he termed "space opera".

Scientology teaches that all humans have experienced multiple past lives as members of advanced alien societies such as Helatrobus and the Marcabians. Traumatic memories from these past lives are said to be the cause of many present-day physical and mental ailments. Scientologists also believe that they possess superhuman powers which cannot be accessed until their past-life traumas and so-called "Body Thetans" have been fully purged through the practice of "auditing", using methods set out by Hubbard in his various works.

According to Hubbard, when people die they go to a "landing station" on the planet Venus, where they are re-implanted and told lies about their past life and their next life. The Venusians take their thetan (soul), "capsule" it, and send it back to Earth to be dumped into the ocean off the coast of California, whereupon it searches for a new body to inhabit. To avoid these inconveniences, Hubbard advised Scientologists to simply refuse to go to Venus after their death. [cite web | first = Joel | last = Sappell | coauthors = Welkos, Robert W. | title = Defining the Theology | url = http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-scientologysidea062490,0,7631220,full.story | work = Los Angeles Times | date = 1990-06-24 | accessdate = 2008-06-01 ] [Cempa, Joe; "Petrolia's New Neighbors", "North Coast Journal", June 1991.]

Unarius Academy of Science

Founded by Ernest L. Norman and his wife Ruth in 1954, the Unarians are a group headquartered in El Cajon, California who believe that through the use of fourth dimensional physics, they are able to communicate with supposed advanced intelligent beings that allegedly exist on higher frequency planes. Unarians believe in past lives and that the solar system was once inhabited by ancient interplanetary civilizations. They probably have more similarity to the Aetherius Society as they emphasize "space brothers" who will one day arrive in thirty-three spaceships to improve humanity.

Universe people

The Universe people or "Cosmic people of light powers" (Czech: "Vesmírní lidé sil světla") is a Czech movement centered around Ivo A. Benda. Its belief system is based upon existence of extraterrestrial civilizations communicating with Benda and other "contacters" since October 1997 telepathically and later by direct personal contact. According to Benda, those civilizations operate a fleet of spaceships led by Ashtar Sheran orbiting and closely watching the Earth, helping good and waiting to transport the followers into another dimension. The Universe People teaching incorporates various elements from ufology (some foreign "contacters" are credited, though often also renounced after a time as misguided or deceptive), Christianity (Jesus was a "fine-vibrations" being) and conspiracy theories (forces of evil are supposed to plan compulsory chipping of the populace).


* Believers in the Urantia book, and Talmud Jmmanuel also believe in aliens.
* Though rarely mentioned after introduced in 1991, Harry Palmer asserts a Galactic Confederacy story similar to Scientology in his "Avatar" courses and literature.

ee also

* Church of the SubGenius
* Exotheology
* Nordic aliens
* "Magonia"
* Space Brothers
* Jacques Vallee
* Vimana


Further reading

* Martin Gardner, "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science", Dover Publications, 1957, ISBN 0486203948
* Jacques Vallee, "Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults", Ronin Publishing, ISBN 0-915904-38-1 (originally published 1979)
* James R. Lewis, "The Gods Have Landed: New Religions From Other Worlds", State University of New York Press, 1995, ISBN 0-7914-2330-1
* James R. Lewis (ed.), "Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions", Prometheus Books, 2003, ISBN 1-57392-964-6
* Christopher Partridge, "UFO Religions", Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0-415-26324-7
* Diana G. Tumminia (ed.), "Alien Worlds: Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact", Syracuse University Press, 2007, ISBN 0815608586
* Diana G. Tumminia, "When Prophecy Never Fails: Myth and Reality in a Flying-Saucer Group", Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0195176758

External links

* [http://www.anthroufo.info/un.html Center for AnthroUfology: UFOs and NRMs]
* [http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/ufos.html UFO cults] article on the website of the University of Virginia Created by Jodi L. Wharff, a student of the late Jeffrey Hadden
* [http://strange.00.gs/UFOs.htm UFOs & UFO religions -- bibliography & websites]

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