Soon after Walgreens, the largest drugstore chain in the U.S., pulled a line of Hanukkah wrapping paper from its stores after a shopper noticed a swastika in the design, members of the Raelian Movement demanded its return and defended the swastika as a holy symbol of peace.
For those not familiar with the Raelian Movement, it is a UFO religion whose members believe that life on Earth was scientifically created by extraterrestrials they refer to as the Elohim, a Hebrew term that ironically means “god.” These Elohim are said to appear human, although when encountered they are mistaken for angels or gods. Moses, Jesus, Buddha and others are believed to be prophets sent by the Elohim – all as offspring of an Elohim father and human mother - to provide guidance and direction.
French auto racer Claude Vorilhon claims he met an Elohim in 1973 when it arrived in a UFO. Vorilhon documented the visit in “The Book Which Tells the Truth,” where he described told the Elohim creation story and what this one looked like.
The extra-terrestrial human being was a little over four feet tall, had long dark hair, almond shaped eyes, olive skin, and exuded harmony and humor.
Vorilhon changed his name to Raël and founded the church, whose 70,000-plus members support genetic engineering, human cloning, liberal sexuality and the swastika, which was imbedded in the movement’s original symbol.
Here’s the response from Raelian Thomas Kaenzig to Walgreens’ removal of the wrapping paper:
We feel outraged by Walgreen's decision and ask for this gift wrapping paper to be made available again. It's unacceptable for us to see a major U.S. retail chain ban this symbol that is so dear to billions around the world.
“Billions” may be a stretch, although even after the Nazi Party stigmatized the ancient sign, the swastika continues to be a religious symbol with various meanings in Hinduism and Buddhism.
I’m sure Walgreens isn’t too concerned about pressure from the Raelians, but it’s always nice to see the smaller religions get some attention in the seemingly constant discussions on religious rights and freedoms.