This is the next installment of my series to be published the first Monday of each month.
There are members of false sects, like Jehovah's Witnesses, that come knocking door-to-door hoping to convert you. Instead of ignoring them, it is we who should try and convert them. In 1 Peter 3:16, our first Pope writes, "But in thy hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks thee to give the reason for the hope that thou hast. But do this with gentleness and respect,..." Before the Great Apostasy, the Church would send missionaries to the ends of the Earth to make as many converts as possible.
Those in false religions don't always come (literally) knocking at your door. It may be a Hindu at work who wants you to try yoga. It could be a "Christian Scientist" who lives next door and invites you to come to their reading room. Each month, I will present a false sect. Unlike the Vatican II sect, I do not see them as a "means of salvation" or possessing "elements of truth" that lead to salvation. That is heresy. They lead to damnation, and the adherents of the various sects must be converted so they may be saved.
In each month's post, I will present one false sect and give an overview of:
- The sect's history
- Their theology
- Tips on how to share the True Faith with them
He called himself "Do" [pronounced "dough"] and was the son of a Protestant minister. Born in 1931, he obtained a Bachelors Degree in philosophy in 1952 after which he was drafted and spent a couple of years serving in the United States Army. Upon his honorable discharge, he married and had two children; during that time he entered a Protestant seminary, hoping to become a minister like his father. He dropped out and obtained a Masters Degree in music, landing a professorship teaching music at the University of Alabama. While teaching there, he attempted to seduce a male student, and was promptly fired in 1965. That should have been the end of his career; instead he was then hired as Chairman of the Music Department at the (formerly) Catholic University of St. Thomas in Houston. He came out as an open sodomite and divorced his wife. In 1970, he resigned his position citing depression and emotional problems.
Surviving a near-death experience in 1972, Do was asked by one of his attending nurses, Bonnie Lu Nettles, to join her religion which taught human bodies were merely containers that could be abandoned in favor of a higher physical existence. This would be achieved when an alien spacecraft would arrive in Earth's orbit and take them to "the Kingdom of Heaven." Fascinated, he joined and became a "true believer," with "Ti" (Nettles name given by the aliens, just as he would be dubbed "Do"). Ti died in 1985, and the long awaited spaceship still had not arrived. According to the sect, Unidentified Flying Objects or UFOs, were alien spaceships that had come to Earth but did not want to publicly reveal themselves except to a chosen few who would be taken to "the Kingdom" in a higher evolved state of existence.
There were a number of strict rules that were imposed on followers: sex was prohibited, members had to cut their ties with the outside world, they were not permitted to watch television or read newspapers, and friendships or any kind of socializing were to be given up. Personal adornment was disallowed; women could not wear jewelry and men were required to shave off beards. Several of the sect's male members had themselves castrated so they wouldn't break the rule against sex and anger the aliens. Soon after the 1995 discovery of the comet Hale-Bopp, the sect members became convinced that an alien spacecraft was on its way to Earth, hidden from human detection behind the comet. On March 26, 1997, as Hale-Bopp reached its closest distance to Earth, Do and 38 of his followers drank a lethal mixture of phenobarbital and vodka and then lay down to die, hoping to leave their "bodily containers," enter the alien spacecraft, and pass through to a higher plane.
Do's birthname was Marshall Applewhite, and the sect, originally called the Anonymous Sexaholics Celibate Church, had changed its name to Heaven's Gate, and the mass suicide was one of the most publicized stories of the 1990s. (See Balch, Robert; Taylor, David . "Making Sense of the Heaven's Gate Suicides" in David G. Bromley and J. Gordon Melton [ed.]. Cults, Religion, and Violence. See also, Heaven's Gate, Charles Rivers Editors, ).
Admittedly, there are many so-called "UFO religions" (some call them cults) and not all (or even most) advocate for suicide or murder. However, after reading up on them, I hesitate to call them "cults." A cult (in my way of considering a sect as a cult) uses coercion of some kind to get people in the group or prevent people from getting out. Heaven's Gate could pass for a cult given all the wacky rules that are oppressive. Yet consider that the group was not subject to any external threat, and there is no evidence that Applewhite’s supporters were mentally ill, vulnerable, or unduly credulous.
As for brainwashing, it becomes less plausible to believe when one considers that only a very small percentage of members felt constrained to give up worldly ties to follow Nettles and Applewhite, and the majority of those who did, subsequently left the group prior to the suicides. Fascination with UFOs is nothing new. First called "Foo Fighters" during WWII, and then called UFOs, the term was coined in 1953 by the U.S. Airforce to describe any "perceived aerial phenomenon that cannot immediately be identified or explained." Recently, on June 25, 2021, the Pentagon released a report, nine pages in length, on UFOs to Congress. The military has renamed UFOs as unidentified aerial phenomena –UAPs. This was done purposely, at least in part, to avoid the claim associated with the term UFO, namely, that aliens from another planet/dimension have visited Earth. (See astronomy.com/news/2021/07/pentagon-ufo-report-no-confirmed-aliens-but-the-government-wants-to-learn-more).
I've always found those with an unhealthy interest regarding UFOs to be disturbed to one degree or another. (Case in point--- all the UFO material on Fred and Bobby Dimond's "Most Holy Family Monastery" website!). This post will discuss the UFO phenomena, the associated UFO sects/cults seeking members, and how to try and convert someone who belongs to any such sect.
The Enigma of UFOs
(The following sources were used for this post in addition to those cited within the post itself: Gulyas, Aaron John Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist: Alien Contact Tales Since the 1950’s ; Palmer, Susan J. “The Raelian Movement” in The Gods Have Landed, edited by James R. Lewis; Keane, Leslie UFOs,; Hynek, J. Allen, The Hynek UFO Report ---Introibo)
From 1947 to 1969, the U.S. Air Force investigated UFOs in a top secret operation known as Project Blue Book ("PBB"). PBB investigated 12,618 reported UFO sightings. Each sighting was placed in one of several categories; psychological meant the origin was the result of an hallucination by one or more persons not of sound mind; substance induced meant the person was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and hallucinated it; hoax meant the person lied, made up photos, etc.; scientifically explained meant the sighting had a rational explanation (e.g., the person(s) saw a weather balloon that flew off course, etc.); and unidentified meant they did not fall into any of the other categories, they were real, yet the scientists working for PBB could not explain what they were. Of those 12,618 investigations, 701 or approximately 5.5% were in the unidentified category.
PBB ended with three conclusions: (a) UFOs are not a threat to national security, (b) there is no evidence that the unidentified category sightings are examples of superior technology, and (c) there is no evidence that the unidentified category sightings are extraterrestrial space vehicles. The finding were eventually challenged by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, PhD (d. 1986)--an astrophysicist who was a complete skeptic, believing UFOs to be either the result of natural phenomena, hoaxes, or hallucinations from unstable witnesses. He was hired by the Air Force to debunk any/all case sightings. Hynek is quoted as saying UFOs were nonsense and "the whole subject seems utterly ridiculous."
By the end of PBB, Hynek had changed his mind. The hardened skeptic and agnostic believed there was sufficient evidence that UFOs were extraterrestrial or extradimensional crafts. In 1985, Hynek explained why he changed his mind:
Two things, really. One was the completely negative and unyielding attitude of the Air Force. They wouldn't give UFOs the chance of existing, even if they were flying up and down the street in broad daylight. Everything had to have an explanation. I began to resent that, even though I basically felt the same way, because I still thought they weren't going about it in the right way. You can't assume that everything is black no matter what. Secondly, the caliber of the witnesses began to trouble me. Quite a few instances were reported by military pilots, for example, and I knew them to be fairly well-trained, so this is when I first began to think that, well, maybe there was something to all this. (See Hynek, pg. 132).
Hynek developed the famous "Close Encounters Scale" which he published in his 1972 book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry. The scale has "Close Encounters" of the First, Second, and Third Kind. A Close Encounter of the First Kind is alleged visual sightings of a UFO at a range of about 500 feet away. A Close Encounter of the Second Kind is a UFO event in which a physical effect is alleged, such as pets acting wildly and machines failing to function properly. A Close Encounter of the Third Kind is contact with UFO in which a non-human entity is present. There was a blockbuster 1977 movie entitled Close Encounters of the Third Kind based on Hynek's scale and in which Hynek himself is given a cameo appearance at the end of the film.
So What Are They?
Of the 5.5% true "unidentifieds"--what could they be? There are three (3) theories:
1. They are natural phenomena science has yet to explain. This is the position of most government agencies around the world (many of which have also investigated UFOs) and the majority of scientists, atheists and agnostics. Just as they attempt to do away with religion as an "explanation for things primitive people did not understand," so too, they claim that there must be a logical, scientific explanation not involving the paranormal or supernatural. They deny, a priori, the very possibility of anything outside what science can explain. For thousands of years, scientists thought autotrophs needed light to produce their own food. Then, in the 1970s, with the discovery of autotrophic bacteria deep under the ocean where there is no light, they came to understand the process of chemosynthesis. Hence, they argue, there are somethings science cannot explain yet.
Problems: This theory begs the question as to the inability of having anything except naturalistic explanations. The naturalistic explanation of UFOs lacks conclusive explanatory power and scope, which would seem to necessitate being open to non-naturalistic ideas.
2. They are extraterrestrials with advanced technology that have come to Earth for a reason. This theory states UFOs are real, empirical, objective realities. They are advanced life forms come to Earth with advanced technology to study humans, but try and avoid detection. Many conspiracy theories arise from this idea, such as Area 51, a U.S. government facility alleged to hold the remains of a crashed UFO and the bodies of the aliens who died in that crash.
Problems: There are several questions that need to be answered regarding this proposed solution in order for it to make sense:
- How are the alien crafts able to traverse vast distances through interstellar space given the physical limits on speed? Travelling at light speed, it would take intelligent life 2.5 million years to reach Earth from the Andromeda Galaxy; the place most scientists believe would be the closest area in which intelligent life could live.
- Why do most of the crafts differ in size, shape, and color?
- How do physical objects move in such a way as to seemingly violate the known laws of physics?
- How can they maintain such a long-standing mission to Earth, and why conceal themselves for decades or longer?
3. They are interdimensional beings beyond the time-space continuum. This is subdivided into meaning (a) they are non-physical beings from a place unknown or (b) they are spiritual manifestations; either angels or fallen angels (demons).
Problems: How does this explain those unidentifieds that appear on radar? Why would God send angels in this fashion? Why would Satan and his demons present themselves as such?
All the theories have pluses and drawbacks. I will venture an opinion later on.
The Kind of People Who Take Serious Interest in UFOs
The following types of people are those with deep interest in UFOs:
Scientists, particularly "exobiologists" who consider the possibility of life developing and existing on different planets. Many scientists are interested in debunking UFOs.
Government officials, who have investigated UFOs, exist in a majority of countries worldwide and want to know more.
People in professional organizations, such as the British UFO Research Organization (See https://www.bufora.org.uk/) which try and explain UFOs.
Social scientists, who study people who claim to have a UFO sighting or alien contact. They then propose naturalistic explanations for their perceptions of the experience.
UFO enthusiasts, who enjoy movies, books and discussions on UFOs--it's more of a hobby or curiosity than anything "official." Many times this leads to wacky beliefs, and an obsessive, unhealthy fascination.
New Agers, who find religious significance in UFOs. They often claim to be contacted by "aliens" during their occult practices.
UFO Sect members, who believe they are special and the UFOs are using them to bring an important message to humanity. Like New Agers, and those who claim "close encounters," I have found ALL of those I researched to have engaged in the occult.
Meet the UFO Sects
The exact number of UFO sects is unknown. Some are "fly by night" groups that dissolve their association after a few years, while others last a very long time. While each group is unique and needs to be evaluated on an individual basis, there are several themes that run through all of them:
1. They believe UFOs are real and they are in touch with aliens/interdimensional beings.
2. Messages are being given to them (or their leader[s]) which have the utmost importance for humanity.
3. The leaders (or everyone in the group) uses the occult method of "Channeling" to contact the aliens.
Heaven's Gate is a good example of the above. Applewhite claimed to be able to "channel messages" from aliens that blasphemously incorporated Christian terminology. He claimed there were two groups of aliens, called The Evolutionary Level Above Human ("TELAH"), and their evil adversaries called Luciferians. Before 1997, the last visit was two thousand years ago, when one of the Older Members of TELAH sent a representative to Earth. This was his son, Jesus, also referred to as “the Captain,” who brought an “away team”[Apostles] with him with the task of preaching the message of how the kingdom of God might be entered. However, the Luciferians incited the human race to kill the Captain and his crew, and encouraged them to propagate false teachings. The Captain was brought back to life by the TELAH ("resurrection'), and then Jesus assumed a new Next Level body and was taken up to heaven by a UFO at his ascension. The TELAH would try to rescue the human race one last time through Applewhite.
Here are two of the current larger sects:
International Raelian Movement.
Claude Vorilhon was born in 1946 and would be renamed Rael after an encounter with a UFO in 1973.It was then he reported his first encountered the Elohim (“those who came from the sky”). He described an emotional encounter with an alien blasphemously named “Yahweh” at an inactive volcano in the area, Le Puy de Lassalas, who revealed himself to be Rael’s biological father and gave Vorilhon the name Rael. He was then invited on board the spacecraft for a series of Bible lessons in which the true meaning of the "Creation myth" in the Bible was revealed. Another meeting with the Elohim occurred in 1975 when Rael, was taken to the alien planet where he described a joyous meeting with his half-brothers, Jesus, Muhammad and Buddha. Rael was given the mission of spreading the Elohim message. Over the next three decades Rael built The Raelian Movement, which claims over 50,000 members in over 80 nations, and a variety of organizations that further the Raelian and Elohim missions. They are atheists, claiming that the intelligent design of the universe is from aliens. They even tried to scientifically disprove Transubstantiation (See my post https://introiboadaltaredei2.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-real-change-you-can-believe-in.html).
Much of the ritual practice associated with the Ashtar Command focuses on channeling extraterrestrial messages. George Van Tassel (d. 1978) claimed to encounter four aliens from a UFO who told him of Ashtar, which is viewed as a liberating physical force in conflict with negative space beings that are influencing the Earth and its inhabitants. Van Tassel originally promoted a form of mediation and "telepathy." Initially, with another group called The Brotherhood of the Cosmic Christ, weekly channeling sessions were held in a room near where the alien encounter allegedly took place.
During these events, members were thought to be able to go into a meditative/trance state where they “resonated” with the frequency of the beings transmitting the messages. This activity was presented as a scientific process that allowed the “receiver” the ability to tune in and receive messages that were being broadcast. They claimed they were never taken over or possessed by ETs or Ashtar, rather they were seen as being able to operate as special transmitters of the message, nothing more.
The belief system associated with the Ashtar Command has been centered upon several charismatic figures that claimed they had the ability to channel messages from Ashtar. Although these key individuals would be recognized as authorities, they would not necessarily be seen of leaders of any particular group. The Astar Command has been dwindling due to mixed messages and failed predictions without a unified leader who can do damage control.
Understanding the UFO Sects
What are we to make of UFOs, in light of the foregoing? I don't believe that "science will eventually explain ALL of them"--it's a "science of the gaps" cop out. If science can't explain everything it does not logically follow that it must do so of necessity unless you presuppose an anti-supernatural worldview in the first place. I must rule out extradimensional entities that are "unknown non-physical beings" as this definition is overbroad and there is no evidence or basis for belief in such entities from any discipline, including theology.
Could they be aliens? There is nothing contrary to the Faith if there were other life-forms created by God and passed their test. They would be superior, as they would be in a state of Original Justice, in no need of Redemption. However, this is mere speculation, and without more proof, I believe the likelihood is low. The more I write this blog, the more aware I become of the occult explosion in our world. In the case of the UFO sects and "Close Encounter" claimants, they are involved in occult practices like channeling and automatic handwriting, which is an invitation to possession and deception by demons. That's not to say everyone who claims to see a UFO is in contact with demons; but the UFO sects are different. I base my conclusion on three major factors; the mode of contact, the content of the messages received, and the motive demons would have to pretend to be aliens.
Mode of Contact: It's not just coincidental that every method of contact is occult. None of these alleged aliens appears to have spoken conversations (except on the initial contact which usually has no witnesses), or gives something already written; the contact is made through a human medium/channeler, inviting an unearthly presence to take over. As I've written many times before, mediums are condemned by both the Bible and Church teaching. "Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you." (See Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Emphasis mine.) According to theologian Jone, "Spiritism claims to be able to communicate with the spirit world and endeavors to establish such commerce with it. Although spiritism is for the most part fraud, still the intention alone to enter into communication with spirits is gravely sinful. Therefore, it is mortally sinful to conduct a spiritistic séance or to act as a medium." (See Moral Theology, , pg. 100; Emphasis mine).
Content of the Messages: As seen above, these UFO sects/cults denigrate Jesus Christ and deny His Divinity. Some deny God Himself, preaching atheism, and many are pervaded with New Age beliefs antithetical to Christianity.
The Possible Motive of Demons: Why would demons pretend to be other-worldly creatures? I'll respond with another question; why would demons pretend to be the souls of deceased people during seances or while speaking through mediums? All of the mediums will tell the grieving person who has lost someone that the deceased are "fine and happy." Of course, this is what we would all like to hear, but how is it possible that all people died within the True Church in the state of sanctifying grace? Hell and damnation are never even considered as possibilities. On the rare occasion when it is mentioned in popular culture, false ideas are still thrown in. For example, in the 1990 blockbuster movie Ghost, starring Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze, the souls of the villains are seen being taken by demons to Hell at the moment of death. "They didn't repent," laments Swayze's character, Sam Wheat. The problem is, neither did Sam Wheat repent of living in mortal sin with his girlfriend Molly Jensen (played by Moore). Furthermore, Jensen is aided by a (you guessed it) medium named Oda Mae Brown (played by Whoopi Goldberg). The film clearly teaches that fornication and the use of mediums are morally permissible.
In the case of impersonating the souls of the dead, demons prey on the fear of death and the unknown. People want to hear "you will be happy when you die" no matter how they live. They want to hear that their father, grandmother, aunt, etc., are in Heaven no matter what they believed or did. In the case of aliens, demons would prey on humanity's hopes, rather than fears. Humans have always been fascinated by space (astrology has always been popular) and space exploration (astronomy has also held a high popularity). Millions of people want an end to disease, hunger, war, poverty, etc., and what better way to appeal to them than to pervert these hopes and tell them you can have paradise in this life and apart from God?
Proselytizing UFO Sect Members
If the person is merely fascinated by UFOs, tell them of the dangers of deceit. Even the Dimond brothers use UFOs to get people to accept the Feeneyite heresy. If the person is involved with one of these groups, it will be hard to reach them. Tell them of the historical example of Heaven's Gate; what makes you think you are correct when so many claiming UFO contact are wrong? If they counter, "How do you know your beliefs are correct and everyone else is wrong?" this gives you the perfect opportunity to show the Truth of God and the Traditionalist Catholic faith.
Make sure to learn one of the proofs for the existence of God (e.g., the cosmological argument) and if you can't remember or use it by speaking, write it down and give it to them (I personally think everyone should have some apologetic materials on them at all times; you never know when it will come in handy). See also my post https://introiboadaltaredei2.blogspot.com/2020/05/stay-tuned.html. Tell them about the real Jesus Christ and how He is God Risen from the dead. Lastly, ask them if they would be willing to pray with you to Jesus and Mary and/or accept a blessed Green Scapular from you. If what they say is true, there's no harm in praying, so would they accommodate you? If they happen to be wrong, God could help them. Don't forget to pray for them afterwards, and have a Mass offered for their conversion if possible.
The UFO craze has been around a long time and it is getting a renewed interest in the wake of the Pentagon report. The people who get involved with unidentified flying objects, even as a passing interest, usually wind up with involvement in other topics (like Darwinian evolution) which does nothing to help the soul. It is often a doorway to occult practices and heresy. Focus on learning and living the One True Faith. If you persevere until the end in sanctifying grace, your reward will then really be "out of this world."