cover image ALIENS ADORED: Ral's UFO Religion


Susan J. Palmer, Author . Rutgers $60 (244p) ISBN 978-0-8135-3476-3

Palmer, a professor of religious studies at Dawson College in Montreal, offers a rare full-length analysis of the Raelian movement, which made headlines in 2002 when leaders claimed to have successfully cloned a human being. Palmer is a scholar of new religious movements, and the book undertakes some serious academic questions (including a thoughtful discussion of the Raelians as a test case for Weber's thesis on the routinization of charisma), but it is also downright fun, even dishy. Palmer has spent more than 15 years observing the Raelians and their controversial leader firsthand, and she shares her own experiences and impressions within a balanced portrait of the history, organization and theology of the group. Drawing on interviews, participant-observer accounts of Raelian meetings and analyses of the movement's increasingly sophisticated public relations outreach, Palmer profiles a fascinating new religion still struggling to define itself. Her tone is sometimes admiring, sometimes critical, and always intrigued. (Nov.)