We had no idea how many UFO religions there were and are in the world. Sure, we’ve heard of the standards–the eccentric Scientologists, creepy Raëlians, and tragic Heaven’s Gate members. But it turns out there is a lineage to the development of UFO religions that dates back to the 40s, when the world was changing dramatically and minds were opening…perhaps a little too wide.
The following is our list of the most wildly cultish and wackadoodle UFO religions out there:
Unarius and the ‘Space Brothers’
Unarius stands for Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science. It is the study of ‘four dimensional science’ and the sacred transmissions by the ‘Space Brothers’, who are advanced intelligent beings existing on a different frequency. The original leaders and founders of the Unarius religion were Ernest and Ruth Norman, ‘the Moderator’ and the ‘Uriel the Archangel’ respectively, who were both worshipped as special transmitters for the ‘Space Brothers’, whose intention is to save the Earth.
Ernest and Ruth Norman met at a psychic fair in 1954 (where else), at which time the Archangel (Ernest) began to write his books. Norman’s first book Voice of Venus, details his psychic trip to visit the advanced civilization on Venus. His book The Truth About Mars states that the Chinese evolved from ancient interstellar migrants who began colonizing Mars a million years ago. His ‘masterwork’, The Infinite Concept of Cosmic Creation, describes the seven planes of Shamballa, which purportedly exist outside the conventional atomic spectrum as non-physical dimensions.
Upon death of Norman the Archangel, Ruth ascended as the new leader of Unarius; she was known as the ‘Queen of Archangels’, the ‘Light’, and Uriel and dressed in a wedding gown. Her female followers dressed as bridesmaids, the male followers in tuxedos.
The Queen channelled news from the ‘Space Brothers’ who said 33 giant spaceships would be landing on the Earth soon. As Uriel’s health failed, followers began confessing past life injuries they afflicted on Uriel on the planet Orion, whose empire had apparently strapped her to an electrode-studded chair and harvested energy from her brain.
Headquartered in El Cajon, California, this religion still actively recruits followers through the Unarius.org website.
The Aetherius Society
Like the Unarius religion, the Aetherius Society was also founded in 1954, by a man named George King. The Society is named after the ‘Cosmic Master’ Aetherius who, like Buddha and Jesus, was an advanced alien entity from Venus. The religion combines UFOs with yoga, a variety of world religions, and the practice of ‘radionics’, which is a form of distance astral healing.
The crux of the religion centers around the efforts of the Cosmic Masters and founder George King to save the Earth and uplift humans to a higher state of evolutionary consciousness. According to King, UFO sightings represent the brief moments in which the Masters have slowed their frequencies, which is why they seem to blink in and out of visibility.
King’s mission was to channel messages from the Masters and launch a series of operations based on the idea that karma operates in the world similarly to electricity. One of these operations, Operation Bluewater, supposedly removed a ‘warp’ in the Earth’s magnetosphere that was caused by the negative energy generated by our atomic experiments.
In 1966, Operation Sunbeam involved the effort by King to tap the spiritual energy stored in 19 special mountains, intensify it in capacitors and then release it as pure psychic energy.
Unlike many other UFO religions, King never specified a time at which the alien gods would come to the Earth. King also never delegated himself as the sole channeler of the Masters. Indeed, Operation Prayer Power allowed followers to wield their own spiritual karmic powers and pursue their own evolutionary paths to enlightenment.
If you’re interested in “co-operating with the Gods from Space”, you can check out the Aetherius Society website.
Though the authorship of the Urantia Book is still apocryphal after all these years, the book remains one of the most scientific religious texts in the world. It’s also a good read apparently, having been one of Jerry Garcia’s favorites.
The religion itself imagines a “Central and Superuniverse” of creation with Local Universes containing millions of inhabited planets and multiple forms of Creator Deities through which lower races–like us–can grow spiritually. Jesus Christ has a huge role in the book as well, which is perhaps why the religion has persisted.
The weirdest aspect of Urantia–even weirder than the fact that its God is called the Thought Adjustor–is the idea of the “sleeping subject”. The Urantia Book was supposedly ‘received’ as epiphanies psychically transmitted by a businessman, “the sleeping subject”, who had fallen into a coma. A group of philosophers and doctors, one of which was co-founder William S. Sadler, became obsessed with the man, who they believed to be a vessel for extra-planetary personalities.
This group called themselves the Forum, and an even smaller sliver of this group constituted the Contact Committee by which chapters of the Urantia Book were ‘received’.
The Nuwaubian Nation
The Nuwaubians actually began as a black Muslim supremacist group rallying around a man named Dwight York, author of “The Holy Tablets”. York himself claimed to be an alien from the planet Rizq and stated that humans were a sub-species of an enlightened alien race.
York says: “We have been coming to this planet before it had your life form on it.… My incarnation as an Ilah Mutajassid or Avatara was originally in the year 1945 A.D. In order to get here I traveled by one of the smaller passenger crafts called SHAM out of a Motherplane called MERKABAH or NIBIRU.”
Other claims by York:
~White people are the result of Muslim geneticists, not God.
~The Chosen Few will be groomed for a 1,000 years and will then battle against the Luciferians.
~In 1952, Harry Truman met with and was evidently terrified by extraterrestrial Andromedeans who looked like Predators.
~Ideas and images are planted in the minds of Hollywood filmmakers, inspiring their sci-fi and horror films; people who know the truth and claim that the movies are real subsequently sound like lunatics.
~No less than 70 “Grey” species and 16 “Reptilian” species exist on Earth and some of them feed on human children.
In the 90s, York and his followers built a 476 acre city called Tama-Re that contained “40-ft. pyramids, obelisks, gods, goddesses and a giant sphinx.”
In 2004, York was sentenced to over 100 years in prison for transporting minors across state lines. It was the largest single-person child molestation case in history.
Ashtar Galactic Command
Ashtar Galactic Command actually refers to multiple religions, as multiple different people and groups over the years have claimed contact with an extraterrestrial named Ashtar. George Van Tassal was the first. In the late 40s, Tassal created an event known as the Giant Rock Spacecraft Convention, during which he and his followers would channel messages from Ashtar.
The original group collapsed from infighting but was reborn in the 70s by a woman named Tuella, who took out a lot of the UFO parts and focused mostly on spiritual well-being. The direction away from ET was short-lived though. Around 1986, another woman, Yvonne Cole, claimed to be getting messages from Ashtar.
Cole made a bold prediction, that in 1994 multiple alien races would arrive on the Earth and proceed to destroy human civilization. We’ll leave it up to you as to whether or not that happened.
In 1977, a British television broadcast was illegally interrupted with what adherents called a message from Vrillion, representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command. The identity of the party or parties responsible was never discovered. The video of this broadcast, which is admittedly kind of creepy, is below:
If you’ve heard of the Raëlians, you probably know them from the media frenzy they created in 2002 when Raëlian Bishop Brigitte Boisselier announced that her biotech company Clonaid, had produced the first cloned human, baby Eve.
The claim has never been 100% substantiated, though it’s worth noting Wikileaks released a cable showing that the US government investigated the Raëlians’ claims. It wouldn’t be too surprising, as the group has long supported the ideas of biotechnology and mind uploading technologies in attaining physical immortality.
The core of Raëlism is the belief that a group of extraterrestrials called the Elohim created the human race in a science experiment. The Elohim appeared to early humans as godlike beings and may be the cause for the mystifying cave drawings that conspiracists claim are ‘ancient astronauts’.
Once again, as with other UFO religions, Buddha, Jesus, and other historical figures arise as prophets in the Raëlian narrative.
Founded by Claude Vorilhon, or Raël, in 1974, the Raëlian Church has a fully fleshed out clergy that practices ‘sensual meditation’ and advocates strongly for political causes, including: pro-GMO crops (we told you, they REALLY like biotechnology); the topless rights of women (they are very pro-sex–in fact, the October 2004 issue of Playboy features Rael’s Girls, a group of Raëlian ex-strippers and call girls); and anti-Catholicism.
The anti-Catholicism is no small issue. In a stunt known as Operation Condom, Raëlians handed out 10,000 condoms to Catholic schoolchildren. In another effort, they incited Catholic children to burn crosses.
One final point worth noting: before a PR move in 1991, one of the Raëlian symbols was a swastika over the Star of David.
Pop culture has been spewing vitriol and circus-like amusement toward the Church of Scientology for decades now. In fact, there’s nary a thing we could say here that you either haven’t heard already or isn’t overshadowed by an even more demented story from an ex-Scientologist. Defectors seem more common these days, but that may simply be because of social media and the Internet.
After years of intermittently researching Scientology for the fun of it and even dropping into a few of their churches for research, we still don’t know what the ‘advanced technology’ of the upper tier members is all about. What we do know is that Church leaders have been accused–and in some cases convicted of–everything from domestic espionage and mind control to financed abortions and murder.
How fun, there’s an order and structure to human evil….
The murder case involves a young woman named Lisa McPherson, who died while in Church custody under extremely bizarre circumstances. Evidently, Lisa was having a psychiatric breakdown and needed treatment for mental illness. The Church, which eschews virtually all forms of medicine and psychiatry, did not allow her to leave and instead placed her into isolation for what they call “Introspection Rundown”, the Scientology method of dealing with mental disorders.
A couple weeks later Lisa was dead, her body covered in lesions and hematomas. Cause of death: pulmonary embolism. Note: when looking for an image for this section, we accidentally stumbled upon Lisa’s autopsy photo. Truly horrifying.
The Heaven’s Gate cult is pretty widely known as the UFO doomsday religion whose members committed mass suicide ahead of the arrival of the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997. This is one of the most disturbing cult incidents in modern history–second perhaps only to the Jonestown Massacre–and it actually took place right here in the Ghost Diaries’ backyard: San Diego, California. In fact, one of our writer’s fathers worked at the pharmacy at which the members acquired some of their drugs; he remembers them coming in a few days before they died.
Heaven’s Gate was founded in the early 1970s by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles, after Applewhite had a near death experience and realized he was in fact an “Evolutionary Kingdom Level Above Human”.
After he had developed a following of people who believed they were actually alien souls in transit, Applewhite grew more eccentric. For instance, he and six other male members voluntarily castrated themselves.
The core of the religion turned into a feverish obsession with the idea that the Earth was about to be “recycled”, or cleansed, and that in order to survive this apocalypse one had to leave the planet. To this end, Applewhite preached that an alien spaceship was arriving behind Hale-Bopp and that members would need to board that ship with their souls.
Accordingly, on March 20, 1997, Applewood and his followers prepared for and carried out one of the most grisly mass suicides in history. The members–some helped by others in stages that lasted three days–each took a cyanide/arsenic cocktail, wrapped a plastic bag around their heads and lay quietly in grouped beds at their 9,200-sq.-ft. mansion in an upscale, gated community. A small purple cloth concealed their faces and, in perhaps the greatest unintentional culture jam of all time, they each wore pairs of Nike Decades athletic shoes, with the brand name clearly visible.
The act claimed 38 lives, including Applewhite’s.
In one of the creepier details of an already horrifying case, it was later revealed that one Heaven’s Gate member had not killed himself. Richard Ford, with the blessing of Applewhite, had stayed behind and documented the deaths on videotape. Police didn’t receive that tape until five years later, in 2002.
Well, there you have it–the good, the bad, and the ugly (almost entirely bad and ugly) of UFO religions. See you at church!
*[Sources for this article: UFO Religions, Edited by Christopher Partridge; Wikipedia; Disinfo.com]