Revised Book of Genesis, version 1.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 1:2
With the next six days came everything else: man, woman, light,
dark, water buffalo, sharp cheddar cheese. 1:3 On the seventh
day He rested. 1:4 And on the eighth day, a group of alien-worshipping
scientists threw the natural order of things for a loop and
successfully cloned a human baby.
We’ve duplicated the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower,
an Egyptian pyramid and now, supposedly, “Eve.” Last week,
Las Vegas resident Dr. Brigitte Boisselier claimed that the
first human clone was delivered in a secret location, by cesarean,
to the world, courtesy of the Raelians, a sect that believes
life was created by aliens. But depending on whom you listen
to, this 7-pound little girl’s origins may be more giant fib
than Adam’s (or, in this case, her 31-year-old mother’s) rib.
Boisselier, our resident Raelian bishop and CEO of Clonaid—a
cloning company started by Raelian founder Rael—had been talking
up the impending birth for months, and two days after Christmas,
held the news conference announcing that history had, indeed,
been made. Her face took the news channels by storm as CNN,
MSNBC, Fox and other major outlets broadcast the proclamation.
If this had been something favorable to the religious community,
the December 26 birth no doubt would have been termed “A Christmas
Miracle.” But to many, it’s “A Christmas Curse.”
pretty tight, the sect and I. I’ve written about the Raelians
and Clonaid for the past year and a half, so it wasn’t an
enormous shock when the calls and e-mails started coming in
from Germany, Italy and France requesting information and
pictures. As papers in Ireland, Nova Scotia and Ottawa picked
up past stories from the Weekly, and Time magazine called
to interview me, I couldn’t help but look at the alien worshippers
with a mixture of pride (awww, they’re getting all this attention!)
and shock (holy shit, they might have actually cloned a baby!).
Like the rest of the world, I have no idea whether Eve actually
exists. Though I’ve always written about the sect as a kind
of novelty, I’ve always found that, beneath their shock value,
the humanitarian views that the Raelians espouse are fairly
appealing. Deep down, I believe the alien worshippers’ baby-cloning
claim. I think they have the money, resources and sheer desire
to make a human clone. Deeper down, I question my gullibility—am
I that easily duped? Either way, we won’t have proof until
sometime around January 5, when an alleged independent investigator
is slated to present his findings (just how independent he
is depends on what you read).
So my Sunday morning interview with Clonaid Vice President
and Raelian Priest Thomas Kaenzig felt in many ways like a
television season cliffhanger. The Raelians are forever changed—whether
Eve is a true clone or a hoax. I found my mind slipping into
a flashback format, connecting Kaenzig’s answers with a series
of “best of the Raelians” memories that were tucked away.
It went a little something like this.
Las Vegas Weekly: What can you tell me about Eve?
Thomas Kaenzig: Eve is doing very well. She’s very
healthy and the parents are very happy about having her. It’s
an infertile couple, and for many years they wanted to have
a baby, and they’re very happy to have it now. And they’re
excited, and obviously also concerned about the outrage it
has created in some places of the world, and in some people’s
mind, so our main concern is obviously the baby’s health and
safety, but it’s also the family’s health and safety.
Kindness. Those Raelians are full of humanitarianism, always
looking to make life better for others, and to me, that’s
always made them likable. I first met the Raelians in April
2001. The Weekly staff was compiling topics to explore in
a UFO issue, and the group came up in an Internet search.
I assumed they were a group of local kooks, an interesting
story. I met with Ricky Roehr, president of the U.S. branch
of Raelians, and Nadine Gary, the P.R. flack—both are Las
Vegas residents. They were wearing a lot of white and offered
me a white plate of perfectly shaped cookies, which were neatly
centered on a doily. Nice folks.
Ricky laid out their beliefs that day, and I realized they
weren’t as kooky as I’d expected. Humans were created by an
advanced race of people, the Elohim, meaning “those who come
from the sky”—aliens. Raelians believe the phrase “those who
come from the sky” was misinterpreted in ancient religious
texts to mean “God.” The religion officially began in 1973,
when the Elohim contacted French journalist Rael, and has
grown to about 50,000 practitioners worldwide. Raelians revere
technology, which they say is the key to our advancement.
They hope that through science we can eradicate disease and
make life enjoyable for everyone. Cloning is their ultimate
goal, and they see it as the key to eternal life.
Boiled down to the basics, their theology isn’t that different
from other religions: belief in a mysterious life-giving entity,
a drive to improve the Earth for yourself and those around
you, and the pursuit of some kind of afterlife. The difference
lies in the terms: God is replaced by aliens and heaven is
switched with cloning. The bonuses of their religion: Raelians
are big fans of sex and indulgence, as long as it doesn’t
LVW: Are you getting any threats with the announcement
TK: Yes, many. We’ve received death threats almost
every hour. It can be anything from “You should be dead” or
“God will punish you” and “May you die,” and anything from
the most stupid thing you could read. But I was expecting,
we’ve received death threats before. What we’re doing questions
mainly conservative religious views of some fanatics and zealots
and they are unhappy about it. The world is changing and they
can adapt or fall a step behind. That’s their problem.
LVW: If Eve is introduced to the public, I would
be afraid religious zealots would kill her.
TK: Yes, that’s why we, at this stage, there’s no
question that we would go public and present the baby. We
would have probably one of those fanatics walking with a bomb,
and especially in the United States, where people put bombs
in abortion clinics, you can guess what it will be for cloning.
So we don’t want to take that risk at all. We’re interested
in helping the people, and if we can show pictures or present
Eve and the family, that’s fine. But in the end, that’s their
decision, not ours. In the end, their life and their safety
is most important, and only they, themselves, can decide that.
It’s not just fanatics, zealots and religious conservatives
who take issue with the Raelians and cloning. More than a
year ago, I attended a class at the Community College of Southern
Nevada where the Raelians made a guest appearance. Roehr spoke
about cloning and how, someday, their goal is to clone a full-grown
adult into whom they can download a healthy person’s memory
and personality, and, eventually, eradicate disease and offer
One young woman in the class insisted that she didn’t want
to live forever. Had no desire to go on ad infinitum. Roehr
suggested that she was associating living forever with being
old and that, through cloning, living forever could be enjoyable.
The woman grew emotional, almost teary, emphasizing that she
Didn’t. Want. That. The argument seemed to last longer than
eternal life itself, with neither budging. Finally, Roehr
relented and told the young woman that no one would have to
be cloned. It wasn’t a requirement.
LVW: All of the reports in the media talk about
the Raelian religion like it’s a silly, farfetched belief
system. What’s your response to that? Don’t you view the dominant
world religions in the same way?
TK: Oh, of course, yes. In this country, 90 percent
of people believe in God. I‘ve never seen God. I think that’s
even more far-fetched, but there are millions of people who
have seen UFOs, who know that there’s people out there in
space, and who ask themselves the questions, “Who are those
people, and what do they want here on Earth, and why are they
here, and what kind of message are they sending us, and why
do we have so many UFO sightings, why do we have so many crop
circles?” Somebody comes up with a concept of God and soul,
it makes me laugh much more. I’ve been an atheist all my life,
and there’s no sense saying, “Oh, it made me laugh to see
people believe in something with no proof or indication whatsoever.”
That’s fine, may they do so. But when they make a comment
about us, they better think twice.
One day, soon after the attacks of 9/11, Ricky was speaking
to a small group of Muslim boys about the Raelian religion.
“We respect everyone’s beliefs,” Roehr said. “We’re not here
to convince you of anything, because that’s not respectful.”
As Kaenzig noted, Raelians are rarely granted the same respect.
If you’ve seen any coverage of the recent news, you know descriptions
of their beliefs are colored with phrases like “little green
men.” Imagine if the Associated Press one day described “a
big, imaginary guy who knows everything and judges whether
you’re good enough to go float on a cloud or bad enough to
grow horns and hold a pitchfork.” That’s how the Raelians
think of the Christian concept of God.
LVW: What do you say to people who think this is
TK: There’s been skepticism around since the beginning
and there will always be skeptics [laughs]. May they think
what they want. We’re happy we can help the people and help
the families involved. May the skeptics think what they want.
We said we will provide proof by an independent expert that
the clone is indeed a clone of the cell donor, and if they
don’t believe that, well, that’s their problem [laughs].
October, I met Dr. Brigitte Boisselier for the first time.
At the Bellagio, over oversized cups of overpriced beverages,
she told me that in April they had implanted 10 women with
cloned DNA, and they had 20 more lined up. After practicing
on thousands of cow eggs since the company started in 1997,
she told me that the first cloned human would be born sometime
around the beginning of the New Year.
She addressed people’s fears of cloning, emphasizing that
there may be a ban imposed on it by the United Nations, and
while it’s not illegal in the United States, the FDA must
approve any human trials. Boisselier said that, as with all
new technologies, as people grow used to the idea of cloning,
they will become more accepting.
is the fear and there is the response of people in the government.
The public has been educated with very bad Hollywood pictures
talking about defects, armies of clones, and that’s what people
have in mind when they think about clones,” she said. “They
are not thinking about someone who has lost a child and would
like to have their baby twin. So the way people are looking
at it is because they don’t have the education.”
But as long as the Raelians withhold proof that they’ve actually
created a clone, it’s more comfortable—more fathomable, anyway—to
think of it as a hoax. Rick Ross, who runs a website documenting
the activities of cults and other controversial groups, has
been charting Raelian activities for years, and insists Eve
is just a cry for attention.
will be shocked if this turns out to be anything but a hoax
for free publicity,” he writes in an e-mail interview with
the Weekly. “Clonaid appears to be little more than another
publicity stunt conceived by Rael to promote his name, group
and possibly the for-profit cloning company. The only thing
that frightens me is that CNN considered this worthy of a
live news report and ‘press conference’ that offered nothing
but Ms. Boisselier making unsubstantiated claims. It came
across like an infomercial.”
Not everyone has taken it so calmly. Politicians, religious
leaders, scientists and ethicists around the world are incensed.
The Vatican released a statement saying, “The announcement
in itself is an expression of brutal mentality, devoid of
any ethical and human consideration.” Rabbis and Muslim clerics
joined the religious condemnation, while President Bush and
French President Jacques Chirac pushed for a global ban on
human cloning. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine
released a statement expressing their doubt. “We must be sure
that clonal pregnancy is, first, possible and, second, safe
in humans. Thus far, we don’t have evidence for either.”
LVW: How do you respond when people say this is
immoral, you’re making creatures who don’t have a soul?
TK: First of all, it makes me laugh. It’s the kind
of answer and comments you get from people like George Bush,
who has been throwing bombs all over the planet and killing
many people. He’s been putting so many people on death row,
and he’s saying cloning is dangerous and it’s unethical. It’s
ridiculous. Cloning is pro-life, it’s giving life, it’s a
big hope for many people out there. There’s reproduction cloning,
which can help many infertile couples, homosexuals, people
with AIDS. There’s therapeutic cloning, stem-cell research,
providing so many people with artificial organs, it will help
people in a wheelchair to walk again one day. … Some people
ask us, “Are you playing God?” And I always tell them “Yes,
I’m very happy about playing God, if it’s for the benefit
of mankind.” Anybody, everything we have today, this phone
interview right now, would never happen without science, without
technology. Everything in the world we have today is thanks
to science, and that’s the only way to progress, to help people
and to make this world a better world.
celebrate at a Las Vegas convention.
Raelians are pacifists. The aliens will not come visit their
children on Earth (that’s us) until we have achieved peace,
they say. Soon after the attacks of 9/11, they held a meeting
at the East Flamingo Library blaming monotheism for most of
the world’s problems. “The truth of the matter is that this
belief in a single and almighty God is the very cause of the
greatest tragedies that humanity has known,” reads Rael’s
statement. “From the colonization of Europe by Muslims through
the Crusades, the wars of religion, the Inquisition, Nazism,
up until today with the wars between Pakistan and India, Cypress,
Ireland, Kosovo, the Middle East, everywhere, it’s always
in the name of an Almighty God that people tear each other
to pieces and kill one another.” Their solution, to censor
from all religious texts any reference to violence, was not
exactly viable, but a nice change from the president’s battle
Some other statements they’ve issued recently illustrate their
progressive attitude and, uh, unique sense of humor:
Last August, on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima:
“The U.S. government, under the guise of saving lives, killed
300,000 civilians and that, by definition, is terrorism,”
Roehr said. “Let a spade be called a spade.”
In September, Rael suggested that parents give their teens
condoms, because they’re going to have sex whether they’re
protected or not.
In October, the Raelians announced they were suing the Vatican
for covering up for pedophile priests and paying millions
to silence victims.
And in November, they proclaimed that when Rael dies, he wants
his body coated in plastic and exposed at UFOLand (the Raelian
theme park in Canada) “naked, half-skinned with an erection,
and in a seated meditation position. Rael adds: “I’ve spent
my life battling against prejudice and taboos generated by
the Catholic Church and I’m delighted to carry on after my
LVW: What’s the next step?
TK: Once everybody’s gotten some sleep, it’s going
to be to offer the service on a worldwide basis and help as
many people as possible. And the next step is to create adult
clones and in the end be able to transfer personalities and
memories and have eternal life. That’s still far away. It’ll
happen sooner than most people think, but it’s not going to
happen tomorrow. Right now we focus on reproduction cloning
and offer it on a worldwide basis.
They had offered to clone me already. Not in such direct terms,
of course, but they’d certainly tested the waters—and my resolve.
will you accept eternal life?” It was a fairly complex question,
asked by PR rep Nadine Gary at one of their meetings, a little
over a year ago. I can still see her looking at me expectantly,
as though she was offering me the world. I guess in Raelian
terms, she was.
We needed some boundaries. “I’m not so sure how I feel about
that,” I whispered back, and the subject was dropped. I continued
respecting their beliefs, they continued respecting my nonbeliefs,
and I have a feeling that the offer still stands, should I
ever choose to take them up on it.
LVW: When that starts happening, and people have
eternal life, won’t the Earth be severely overpopulated?
TK: That’s a question politicians should ask themselves
now, is once we master eternal life, the technology behind
it, who will have access to it? That’s a good question. Maybe
we will solve it the same way it was solved by the Elohim,
those extraterrestrials who created life on Earth. They also
have eternal life on their planet, and it’s only [for] people
who did a lot of positives for their society, be it physically
or medically or by their invention, who deserve eternal life.
In the end it’s a number game. This planet cannot hold an
infinite number of people [laughs]. But if you applied a simple
rule saying you can have eternal life but you can’t have children,
the numbers still match. It will be a personal decision.
Last April, Clonaid announced its willingness to clone Count
Dracula’s last known relative (actually, his name is Ottomar
Rudolphe Vlad Dracul Kretzulesco, and he’s related to Vlad
the Impaler, upon whom Bram Stoker based the original Count
Dracula). The good count had recently announced his desire
to adopt a child of “noble origin” to carry on his lineage,
and Clonaid stepped up to the plate. I asked for an update
in October, wondering if the little sucker could be on his
way, and was firmly told they were still in “negotiations.”
They wouldn’t let me see Eve, either.
LVW: What else would you like to address?
TK: If we talk about human cloning, don’t think
about monsters or Frankenstein, think of the people who will
benefit from this technology and think of the big hope that
many, many people do have through this technology. I always
tell people, if you’re against cloning, that’s fine. But at
least let those people who want to have access to it, let
them have access to it. That’s really the most important for
The Revised Book of Genesis, version 1.1
1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
1:2 With the next six days came everything else: man, woman,
light, dark, water buffalo, sharp cheddar cheese. 1:3 On the
seventh day He rested. 1:4 And on the eighth day, a group
of alien-worshipping scientists told an almost Biblical epic
of cloning intrigue, only to find that the world’s not ready
to hear about genetically altered apples plucked from a manmade
tree of knowledge, for fear that they taste rotten.