The Raelian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim. Members of this species appeared human and when having personal contacts with the descendants of the humans they made, they were mistaken for angels, cherubim or gods. Raëlians believe messengers, or prophets, of the Elohim include Buddha, Jesus, and others who informed humans of each era. The founder of Raëlism, members claim, received the final message of the Elohim and that its purpose is to pacify and inform the world about Elohim and that if humans become peaceful enough, they wish to be welcomed by them.
Within the Raëlian Church has a quasi-clerical structure of seven levels. Joining the movement requires an official apostasy from other religions.
Raël founded Clonaid (originally Valiant Venture Ltd Corporation) in 1997, but then handed it over to a Raëlian bishop, Brigitte Boisselier in 2000. In 2002 the company claimed that an American woman underwent a standard cloning procedure that led to the birth of a daughter, Eve (b. December 26, 2002). Although few believe the claim, it nonetheless attracted national authorities, mainstream media, and young adults to look further into the Raëlians' cult status.
The Raëlians frequently use the swastika as a symbol of peace, which halted Raëlian requests for territory in Israel, and later Lebanon, for establishing an embassy for extraterrestrials.
The structure of the Raëlian Church is hierarchical, with seven levels ascending from level 0 to level 6. The top four levels consist of "Guides". The level 6 guide, known as the "Guide of Guides", has the final say on who becomes a level 5 "Bishop Guide" or a level 4 "Priest Guide". Bishops and priests promote lower-level members one level at a time during annual seminars. Each bishop or priest can propose a new guide as long as the candidate is from a level below his or her own. Guides can assist "Regional Guides"—level 3 and above—in their assigning of non-guide members to levels 3 ("Assistant Priests"), 2 ("Organizers") and 1 ("Assistant Organizers").
Members of the Raëlian structure begin as level 0 "trainees" during annual seminars. The Raelian structure claimed in 2007 to have about 2,300 members, 170 "Raëlian guides", and 41 bishops.Claude Vorilhon has helds the highest position for three seven year terms.
Women make up only a third of the membership in the Raëlian Church,:p. 117 though two anecdotes in the Raëlian Contact newsletter report female majorities joining the movement's Asian Mongolian chapter. Women such as Brigitte Boisselier, the Chief Executive Officer of Clonaid, play a powerful role in the Raëlian Church. There are two major groups of women in the Raëlian Church.
The Order of Angels, founded in the 1990s, consists of over a hundred Raëlian women who call for femininity and refinement for all of humanity. The initiation rites include declaring an oath or making a contract in which one agrees to become defender of the Raëlian ideology and its founder Raël. The Order of Angels has its own hierarchy of "rose angels" and "white angels" which, as of 2003, are six and 160 women, respectively. After the Clonaid human cloning claim made the headlines, the Daily Telegraph wrote that members of the order not only provided sexual pleasure for Raël, but also helped donate eggs for efforts towards human cloning. A few days later, Time magazine wrote that French chemist Brigitte Boisselier was an Order of Angels member. Around this time, cult specialist Mike Kropveld called the Order of Angels "one of the most transparent movements" he had witnessed, though he was alarmed by the women's promise to defend Raël's life with their own bodies.
Raël has instructed some women members to play a pro-sex feminist role in the Raëlian Church. "Rael's Girls" is another group of women in the movement which are against the suppression of feminine acts of pleasure, including sexual intercourse with men or women. Rael's Girls solely consists of women who work in the sex industry. In contrast to the teachings of the world's major religions, the women of Rael's Girls say there is no reason to repent for performing striptease or being a prostitute. This organization was set up to counteract the influence of the "JC's girls" mission of the Christian ex-stripper Heather Veitch. Rael's Girls and its founder Raël were featured in a pictorial in the October 2004 issue of Playboy.
The major initiation rite in the Raëlian Church is the "baptism" or "transmission of the cellular plan" and is performed by upper-level members in the Raëlian clergy known as guides.:pp. 58–9 In 1979, Raël introduced the "Act of Apostasy" as an obligation for those preparing for their Raëlian baptism.:p. 60
The Raëlian baptism is known as transmission of the cellular plan where "cellular" refers to the organic cells of the body and the "plan" refers to the genetic makeup of the individual. This Raëlian baptism involves a guide member laying water onto the forehead of the new member.:p. 334 The practice began on "the first Sunday in April":p. 58 of 1976 when Raël baptised 40 Raëlians.:p. 58 Raëlians believe that their genetic information is recorded by a remote computer and would become recognized during their final hour when they will be judged by the extraterrestrial Elohim