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Controversial New Religions$
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James R. Lewis and Jesper Aagaard Petersen

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195156829

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/019515682X.001.0001

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The Raëlian Movement

The Raëlian Movement

Concocting Controversy, Seeking Social Legitimacy

(p.371) 17 The Raëlian Movement
Controversial New Religions

Susan Palmer

Oxford University Press

The Raëlian movement appears to be the largest and fastest-growing UFO religion of the decade, claiming to have up to 60,000 members. It is also controversial, like many other successful, evangelistic, and apocalyptic new religions. But closer examination suggests that the source of the notoriety appears to be in their policies regarding the media. Since the early 1990s, the Raëlians have launched a series of publicity campaigns designed to shock, titillate, and capture the media’s imagination. It is argued that by presenting controlled “outrages” with a clear social orientation in publicity campaigns — such as “Operation Condom” in front of Catholic schools and the Baby Eve cloning announcement — they direct the image of the movement in the public space and deflect the more serious charges usually aimed at new religious movements.

Keywords:   Raëlian, UFO, media, publicity, religious movements

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