In 1973, a French auto racing writer hit upon the great idea of proclaiming he'd been abducted by aliens and chosen as their emmisary for when they arrive here on Earth. (For some reason, every organization claiming to be in contact with aliens has a different name for the green guys in the saucers: with the Raelians it's the Elohim, with the SubGenii it's the Xists.) Rael claims to be a "religious" movement, and like many religious movements it has one great fault: everyone in the organization has to suck up to ol' Rael and take his every word as gospel. There's an interesting entry on the Raelians in Donna Kossy's MUST-READ book, Kooks, which gives the story of Rael's visitation with the space aliens and his organization's attempts to build a temple in Israel to greet Them when They arrive. Unless they've received new orders from Out There, the aliens will only arrive if the temple is successfully completed by a certain due date. The Raelians have the right idea, but they've got the date wrong. (The REAL date for the arrival of space aliens, of course, is July 5, 1998. 7:00 AM, to be precise.)
In the 1990s, the Raelians became politically correct when they changed their official symbol from a "star of David with a swastika in the center" to a "star of David with a spiral in the center." (They have abandoned this symbol as of 2006, and have officially gone back to their original symbol.) Personally, I believe them when they state that the swastika is not meant as a reference to Nazis; more likely, it was just a way for Rael to draw the symbol with connecting lines so that the six-pointed Star of David symbol could be drawn with only one line.
While these guys claim to stick up for the underdog when it comes to "persecuted religious minorities," they're also gullible: allegedly, 500 Raelians marched in Germany as part of the big rally held by the Church of Scientology in October of 1997. They're also firm believers in that Creationist story where God tells the judge that yes, he put those fossils under that half a mile of limestone.
The Raelians are the guys reponsible for the Clonaid cloning hoax of 2003. All I can say is: Damn, why didn't WE do something like that? Sure, it ruined Rael's reputation in the international community; but the free publicity these guys got for that stunt was priceless!
Other than the Clonaid scandal, the Raelians have gotten a lot of attention from the fact that they have a lot of young, very pretty female members…who seem to enjoy getting naked in public. While the Raelians haven't come out and promoted themselves with a message of "join us and you'll get laid," they've long been aware that their use of naked women to promote the organization has worked pretty darn well.
(And every time I hear the name "Rael," I think of Genesis' 1975 album, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Did Peter Gabriel and the band have this Rael in mind when they made the album, I wonder?)