"…our religion is not a cult, for members are main-stream oin society, and are taught not to follow anybody or anything, if ti goes against their consciouness [sic]. Instead of identifying ourselves with the term 'cult', we think of ourselves as a minority religion, as the Raelian Religion is relatively new, and not 'established' yet, like the traditional religions. Because of the term cult and other negative terms, Raelians have been discriminated against…".
In our earlier discussion on the history of the conversion concept, we showed that in western history the concept typically has been interpreted as the transformation of persons identity to a form that embodies a deeper commitment to a religious worldview to which he was already superficially committed. It is only in relatively recent times that conversion has been seen as necessarily involving switching to a different religious worldview or organizational commitment.
NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS AND THE FUTURE
All founders were (and is) true leaders as defined as Webster's. The NRUMs can be defined as outlined by both Stark and Bainbridge (1985) and Hexham and Poewe (1997b), but it not enough to simply say that the founders are leaders. They are way beyond the normal member; they are all referred to by various titles, and especially Ruth has many flamboyant names and attributes. Aetherius has the least members but is still the movement that allegedly works the hardest for the benefit of all mankind. Unarius claims to have hundred of thousands of members but the exact sum is questionable. They have all had prophetic calls, but King and Uriel also resemble shamans in that they can contact the spirit world, and acting as mediums they channel extraterrestrial messages that "contains the boons of salvation". They can also be defined as mystagogues, and again Rael can not. True, the Raelians plan to build an Embassy where the Elohim will land, but he is not concerned with channelings or discussions about God or soul. The space magic and techno-animism is reserved to Unarius and Aetherius. Rael is a more contemporary leader who emphasizes scientific achievements as the way to an afterlife. Still personal experiences shows that many Raelians are willing to believe numerous New Age beliefs. People join the NRUMs because they are concerned about their own, or humankinds, welfare, but while the Unarians and Raelians prime concern is individual well-being, Aetherians allegedly devote much time to heal the world, which is not to say that Unarians and Raelians are ignorant, but rather that this mission is not as emphasized in these NRUMs.
New Religious Movement | Custom PHD Thesis
The extraterrestrial religion as practiced by the three NRUMs is today, just as Bullard makes clear in his quote from the introduction, not widely practiced and still very marginal compared to mainstream religion: "The UFO faith has established a church, in Durkheim's sense of a moral community, only here and there, and for small groups at the time [and the] UFO religious movements amount a colorful but marginal effort to full the modern spiritual vacuum, and occupy a mere corner of the extensive UFO presence in popular imagination". The small influence nonetheless, the followers of this particular ideology get as much spiritual and religious satisfaction as members of a mainstream religion do.
NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS AND SOCIAL CHANGE …
As we have seen, ritualistic behavior plays a very important part in all three NRUMs. Rituals are carried out either solitary or in a group setting, though all NRUMs prefer the latter. Not only the individual, but also the entire world and also other worlds in the universe may benefit from the rituals. The Raelian Religion focuses more on the individual, most likely because of the less Spiritualistic and Theosophical nature of their teachings. Aetherius and Unarius, on the other hand, borrow heavily from these. Unarius does, however perform individual healing through past-life therapy and psychodramas, and Aetherius has rituals that benefit the individual karma. Still, it is the latter NRUM that puts the most effort into helping mankind, even if all claim to do that. However, all members of the NRUMs when participating in the rituals are able to experience group solidarity and loyalty, exemplifying Durkheim's notion of ritual participation as the true nature of religion, and this regardless of how or for what purpose the ritual is performed.