Earlier this week, we told you about how the Satanic Temple plans on handing out their literature to public school kids in Florida on the heels of an Orange County School Board decision to allow an Evangelical Christian group to hand out Bibles.
And now an international UFO religion wants to get in on that handing out religious materials to school kids action. And, yes, they have a chapter here in Florida.
The religion, known officially as the International Raelian Movement, has announced their support for the decision to allow the Satanic Temple to offer their religious literature in the school district. The group's leader is encouraging Raelian members to now go and do likewise.
Much ike the Satanic Temple, the Raelians want to spread a message of open mindedness to Florida's youth.
"It's about equality for all," Donna Newman, spokesperson for the Raelian Movement in South Florida tells New Times. "No violence, peace on Earth. If society is just leaning towards just one specific doctrine, it's not fair. Why can't they open up their doors to other beliefs? Let the childen choose, not just pound one doctrine into their heads all their lives."
Raelism, which was founded in 1974 by former French race car driver and one-time pop artist Claude Vorilhon, has for years held to the belief that the Earth was created by extraterrestrials they call Elohim.
Vorilhon claims that he was visited by such extraterrestrials in 1974. These beings, he says, gave him the task to spread their message to the world. Since then, Vorilhon changed his name to Rael and is now head of a worldwide movement that has garnered attention not just for its belief system, but how they spread that belief. Mostly, by having their female members show up to public events topless.
So when news broke that the Satanic Temple was going to hand out their materials, Rael sent out a press release supporting the campaign.
"Religious freedom is either for everybody or it doesn't exist," Rael said in his statement. "We want to offer students diversity and a more peaceful literature than that of the Bible."
He then urged Raelians to take his books to the Orange County schools.
What those books entail is still a work in progress, according to Newman.
"We're still working with the leaders on what exactly we're going to hand out," she says. "But we've been doing things for school children for many years, such as teaching them safe sex and condom education. The main thing is that when we see an issue, we try to get ahead of it."
Newman spoke of the group's topless campaign, which was something that started off as a kernel of an idea eight years ago and has since blossomed into something that pretty much defines the group -- outside of their belief in extraterrestrials, that is.
Newman spelled out Realism's tenets, telling New Times that their teachings are about acceptance and allowing children to choose their own path. "There's no room for 'an-eye-for-an-eye' in our religion, you know?"
She also pointed towards the group's free online book titled "The Message," which supposedly holds the teachings Rael was handed down by his extraterrestrial visitors.
"I've challenged so many people to read our book and point out any negativity in it," she says. "And they simply could not."
Still, Newman is not lost on how people might perceive their group handing out literature to children. "The Satanic Temple, on the surface, seems dark and furtive, you know," she says. "And we understand that people will see our literature and freak out a little over it. These people believe in UFOs! Oohh... you know. But, we truly believe children should not be forced into any one doctrine. That they are not pressured. That they decide on their own path when they become adults."