Sun Media reporter Brigitte McCann and photographer Chantal Poirier infiltrated the Raelians over a nine-month period and have put to paper the inside story of this bizarre sect.
Three months after having infiltrated the Raelians, reporter Brigitte McCann was officially accepted by the group. On April 6, she was baptized by Claude Vorilhon — Rael himself — assisted by the president of Clonaid, Brigitte Boisselier, during a grand ceremony staged at the Canada Pavilion on Ile Notre-Dame in Montreal.
It’s a great day to be a Raelian. At last, I can “educate” humanity. I make my way through the crowd of 250 or so Raelians waiting excitedly for the annual “celebration of the creation of the first humans in a laboratory.”
All are impatient to see the faces of the new Raelians, fresh blood, who will be baptized today. I feel all eyes on me as I take my place in the lineup of only six recruits.
Standing in front of the crowd of Raelians for the first time, I’m afraid someone will recognize and denounce me. I make a mental note of the exits.
Disguised as a recruit, my colleague Chantal is squatting in the first row of spectators, camera in hand. She obtained a rare permission to take photos so I could have a souvenir of the event.
Baptism Day is THE greatest moment in the life of a Raelian. None of them ever forget it. During the “transmission” of my “cellular plan,” Rael will use telepathy to send my genetic code to our creators, the Elohims, who will then be able to communicate with me.
They will understand that I now acknowledge them as my creators and that I will transmit their “messages.” I will make my official entrance among these “educators of humanity” and may one day attain eternal life on the planet of the Elohims.
All morning perfect strangers have been warmly congratulating and hugging me. As they pass by, they proudly exclaim: “So you’re the Brigitte who is doing a transmission of her cellular plan! And you’re to be baptized by Rael himself? Lucky girl! When I was baptized, it was just by a guide …”
My turn has come. The leader calls my fictitious name into the microphone. A rapid scan of the hall — no one moves a muscle. I walk towards Claude Vorilhon. His bodyguards don’t flinch. Everything’s going to plan.
I pass in front of Brigitte Boisselier, the cloning priestess, who holds a large bowl of water. I stop in front of the “prophet” who fixes his eyes on mine, his face solemn.
Baptism is his bolt from the blue, his sword, his stranglehold on his disciples. At any time, he can withdraw their privileges by debaptizing them on the spot.
But now, my only concern is to have the right expression on my face. I opt for a blend of emotion and solemnity.
The guru turns toward Boisselier and plunges his hands into the bowl of water. He places his right hand on my forehead, his left on the back of my head and exerts a light pressure. Water runs down my face. He closes his eyes, and so do I.
The next five seconds feel like 20. It’s as though all the spectators are holding their breath. I wait, ready for anything to happen.
Vorilhon opens his eyes right after me and solemnly declares:
“The Elohims have acknowledged you!”
The crowd is enchanted and applauds warmly while I return to my seat, stopping on my way to shake a few hands.
“Welcome to the family!” cries Manon, an exuberant Raelian woman whom I’ve been rubbing shoulders with since January. She has tears in her eyes and plants two wet kisses on my cheeks.
‘The only love’
“And?” she asks, her eyes wide.
“Er … it was incredible! I felt all warm inside.”
“I felt the same thing,” she answers, satisfied. “Rael is soooo full of love!”
To hear Vorilhon, his love is infinite. “I love you, all of you, with or without a skirt, with an equal love,” he declares. “This love is the only love.”
That may be true, but disciples soon learn that doesn’t mean they can bug him with their problems. The misfortunes of “abused people” are of no interest to him.
“The English say: Bull—-!” he cries. “If you want to make yourself interesting with your problems, OK, but we won’t play into your hands.”
He doesn’t want to hear a word about the past of his followers:
“You want to tell me about your past? Have you been raped, here, just now? No? Well then, all’s well!”
The same goes for the women’s mood swings. “It is so easy for a woman to justify her misfortune, her character, but premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is no excuse for losing your happiness. Say to yourselves: I’ll go meditate. When the PMS is over, you will no longer have this handicap.”
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HOW OUR REPORTERS INFILTRATED THE CULT
Patience, calm, luck and astuteness allowed our two reporters to collect photos and information over a period of nine months, without ever revealing their true identities.
To cover their tracks and infiltrate the Raelians, our reporters chose false names and rented a post office box to receive all Raelian correspondence.
They then invented occupations in areas that they could easily talk about without attracting attention. Reporter Brigitte McCann opted for a job in a plant north of Montreal, which she visited prior to the investigation to get the feel of the place.
Photographer Chantal Poirier chose one of her old jobs in the restaurant business.
To register as members, the duo provided anonymous cellphone numbers.
Finally, the two women constructed family histories for themselves, inventing as little as possible to avoid any blanks.
McCann launched the investigation alone in January. After a few meetings, she was invited to recruit new members in New York City in March.
Introduced as a recruit, Chantal joined Brigitte to assist in the investigation process and take exclusive photos. Constantly faced with the movement’s rules and bans, the photographer used a variety of means to take photos, often using her colleague as a screen. The result — over 500 revealing clandestine photos.
During their two weeks camping out among the Raelians in Maricourt, Que., they had to hide a laptop under their inflatable mattress. Every day, they burned photos and text on a CD.
In order to avoid leaving anything on their computer, they would claim they needed a trip to the grocery store and would leave the CD with a shopkeeper in a nearby town who was in on the investigation.
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RAELIAN RECRUITS LURED BY LIBIDOS
Former members of the Raelian cult say attractive members of the movement cruise strip clubs and bars looking for lonelyhearts who are offered free sex — and plenty of it — to recruit them into the organization.
“They work the bars and the vulnerable ones are caught,” said Steve Hassan, a former Moonie who now helps “deprogram” cult members with the Boston-based organization Freedom of Thought.
“They use free sexuality as inducement and recruiting.”
Former Raelian Pete Cooke was recruited into the cult by a dancer in Montreal’s Kit Kat strip bar.
“I had been divorced for 16 years. I wasn’t a misfit but I had trouble making friends and I was lonely and I got sucked right in,” said Cooke, who spent two years with the cult.
The Quebec-based religion, headed by former journalist and race car driver Claude Vorilhon — who is known as Rael — believes humans were cloned by aliens.
Cooke, out of the cult for five years, believes in UFOs.
“It wouldn’t be such a bad place if you’d leave all the sex out. I’d never go back because of the sexual aspect,” he said. “I didn’t like all the opening of genitals or all the focusing on the anus.”
There are mandatory sensual meditation sessions in which a “guide” instructs Raelian members how to caress their breasts and nipples, how to produce and lick the odor from armpits and genitals and how to use a mirror to study and play with the anus.
Asked about orgies, Raelian Bishop Rickey Lee said: “There aren’t orgies going on all the time.”
Mike Kropveld, executive director of Info-Cult, an organization focused on sensitizing the community to cult thinking, says some women in the movement are in the stripping or sex trade.
“The Raelians appeal to them because they are liberal and that supports the women’s lifestyle.”