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Maybe ET will make appearance there, too

The Tennessean, USA
Aug. 22, 2004 Column
Gail Kerr
www.tennessean.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Monday August 23, 2004

This afternoon, a group of Raelians the atheist sect that claims to have cloned babies and bases their beliefs on a chat with an extraterrestrial will hold a meeting at the Green Hills library.

Just when the summer doldrums had set in and the International Bank of Column Ideas was shuttered, my editor passed that little tidbit to me. I am richly blessed. Here’s what their e-mail said:

”THE MESSAGE FROM EXTRATERRESTRIALS

”Discover the atheist spirituality of the 21st century! Free public lecture by the Raelian Movement; Sunday, August 22 at 3 p.m. Nashville Public Library, Green Hills branch, 3701 Benham Avenue, Nashville. More information: www.rael.org’ (http://www.rael.org’)’

Since today’s my birthday (and it was an actual birth, not a cloned event), I’ll skip the lecture, thanks so much, but I’m happy to run their announcement for our out-of-this-world readers.

I also took a gander at their Web site. This was risky, since I have a history of inviting conversion. When I was around 10, I signed up at the Mormons‘ state fair booth, thinking it would lead me to marriage with Donny Osmond. Instead, we got a visit from two very friendly missionaries, who spent a rousing afternoon debating religion with my Presbyterian-elder father. I thought he would kill me.

Anyway, I learned Raelians don’t want to convert people at all. One of their main aims is to ”inform without convincing.”

They also say nobody in their group (cult?) gets paid, but they take Visa and MasterCard, ask for membership fees and urge you to buy their leader’s book.

It’s called The Message Given by Extra-terrestrials and is sort of their bible (can atheists have a bible?). It was written by this cat named Rael, who used to be a French journalist and race-car driver.

Here’s his story, and he’s sticking to it: On Dec. 13, 1973, dude was wandering around a volcano, when a 4-foot ET approached him.

Which goes to show you shouldn’t wander around volcanoes if you know what’s good for you. (Wonder what the first exchange was? ”Hi. My name is ET, and I’ll be your spiritual leader this afternoon.”)

So the little guy tells Rael that aliens made all the people on earth, and there is no God. And if we’d just all get together, and build them a fancy Embassy, they’d come back to Earth, and we’d all clone ourselves and then get to live happily forever after (Is this starting to sound like ”a man walks into a bar ?).

The alien being, with almond-shaped eyes (of course), apparently also told Rael to wear white, flowing clothes and put his hair in an odd topknot. But I digress.

Rael is also tied to the company Clonaid, which is not something Willie Nelson is playing to raise money for. They claim they’ve cloned babies, and they really, really, really have proof. But they really, really, really won’t reveal it. Until they show and tell, we’ll just assume the Clone family lives in Brentwood in a gated community that has the word ”farms” in the title.

Why the Raelians are meeting in Green Hills today is unclear. Perhaps they believe the addition to Green Hills mall is the embassy they’ve been longing for. Or their little spaceships can fly above the traffic. Maybe they’ve got a hankering for the Chinese chicken salad at Green Hills Grill.

Whatever the reason, you are welcome to join them at the lecture. If you don’t, you’ll agree with me.

There will be more nuts in Green Hills this afternoon than line the shelves of Restoration Hardware.

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