Raelian talk on creation lures curious

The Birmingham News, May 26, 2003

An eclectic mix of people turned out at the Birmingham Public Library Sunday afternoon to learn more about the beliefs of the Raelians, a nonprofit group that contends aliens created all life on earth.

The listeners ranged from a well-groomed mother and daughter to transients who learned about the lecture while hanging out at the fountain on the city’s Southside. Most who gathered said they were there simply out of curiosity rather than in search of some kind of epiphany.

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“We’ve been married 36 years and we’ve been to a lot of unusual things together,” said Sibyl West, who attended the event with husband. “This is just one of them.”

“We’re Episcopalian,” she said. “We went to church this morning. We’re not looking to be converted.”

Damien Marsic, who is French-born and working on his doctorate in biotechnology at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, gave Sunday’s lecture. He showed several videos and spoke briefly about the Raelian movement.

It began, he said, in 1973 when French journalist Claude Vorilhon claimed an alien visited him atop a volcano in France and told him the secrets of the universe. Vorilhon, who took on the name Rael, has written several books and has a goal of building an embassy to welcome back the extraterrestrials he says created earth.

“Of course all of this can seem a little strange, a little far-fetched,” said Marsic, who is one of five Raelians in Huntsville. “I do believe in this idea.”

“Rael himself says don’t believe me, read the book,” Marsic said. “When enough people are aware of it, the encounter can take place.”

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