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This list of UFO religions, also referred to as UFO cults and flying saucer cults, lists groups identified as such by scholars and academics. UFO religions are commonly groups which deal with communication between humans and extra-terrestrial beings. Forms of communication include telepathy and astral projection. Groups often believe that humanity can be saved after being educated by the aliens as to how to improve society. Alien abduction belief can lead to formation of a UFO religion. I AM Religious Activity founded by Guy Ballard is seen as the first UFO Religion, though Aetherius Society founded by George King has also been given this distinction. Scholars identify the 1947 Roswell UFO Incident as a key event within the history of UFO spirituality. Melodie Campbell and Stephen A. Kent describe Heaven's Gate and Order of the Solar Temple as among the most controversial of the UFO belief groups. Scientology is seen by scholars as a UFO religion, due to its Xenu cosmogony and the presence of Space opera in Scientology doctrine.



J. Gordon Melton identifies the first UFO religion as the group I AM Religious Activity, founded by Guy Ballard.[1]

UFO religions generally deal with belief in communication with extra-terrestrial beings.[2][3] Stephen Hunt writes in Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction that "One form of quasi-religion that perhaps borders on a more orthodox form of religiosity is that of the flying saucer cults."[2] In these groups, individuals believe that communication between aliens and humans can take the form of physical contact, telepathy, and astral projection.[2] Typically the groups believe that humanity will be saved by these aliens when humans are educated as to a better way to live life.[2] Some of the groups believe that aliens will come to take those that believe to a more positive location.[2] Oftentimes the extraterrestrial beings are seen to plead with humanity to improve itself and to move away from a society of greed.[2] UFO religions place an emphasis on spiritual growth, and the evolution of humanity.[2] A UFO religion can be formed after an individual claims to have experienced an alien abduction and been taken aboard a spacecraft.[4]

Christopher Hugh Partridge writes in UFO Religions that J. Gordon Melton identifies the first UFO religion as the group I AM Religious Activity, founded by Guy Ballard.[1] Partridge notes that within UFO religions, there is a belief that the supreme being or "evolved entity" did not ascend from Earth, but instead came from another planet and descended to Earth.[5] Partridge describes the 1947 Roswell UFO Incident as a key point in time within UFO spirituality, commenting: "Roswell is now firmly established as what might be described as a key ufological 'spiritual site'.";[6] and James R. Lewis also calls attention to this event in his book The Gods Have Landed, noting that it is seen by Ufologists as the date of the "emergence of UFOs into the public consciousness".[7] Partridge places UFO religion within the context of theosophical esotericism, and asserts that it began to be associated as "UFO religion" after the 1947 incident at Roswell, New Mexico.[5] According to Partridge, most UFO religions still have many of the key points associated with Theosophy, and he also draws parallels to New Age thought.[5] He notes that within the thought processes of UFO religions after 1947, many of these groups maintained beliefs that extraterrestrial beings were "heralds of a new era".[5]

Hunt describes the Aetherius Society founded by George King in 1955 as "probably the first and certainly the most enduring UFO cult".[8] He places the Aetherius Society and Raëlism among the "most renowned" of the "flying saucer cults".[2] Writing in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, contributors Melodie Campbell and Stephen A. Kent place the Aetherius Society and Unarius as among the "oldest and most studied" of the flying saucer cults.[9] They describe groups Heaven's Gate and Order of the Solar Temple as the "most controversial groups combining UFO belief with variations of contactee assertions".[9] Gregory L. Reece classes Scientology as a "UFO group" in his book UFO Religion: Inside Flying Saucer Cults and Culture, and discusses elements of the Xenu cosmogony and Space opera in Scientology doctrine.[10] He compares Scientology to the Aetherius Society and to Ashtar Command, writing: "While it bears strong similarities to the Ashtar Command or the Aetherius Society, its emphasis upon the Xenu event as the central message of the group seems to place them within the ancient astronaut tradition. Either way, Scientology is perhaps most different from other UFO groups in their attempt to keep all of the space opera stuff under wraps."[10] A similar comparison is made in New Religions: A Guide, which describes the Xenu mythology as "a basic ancient astronaut myth".[11] Author Victoria Nelson writes in The Secret Life of Puppets "The most prominent current UFO religion is probably the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology."[12]


Image Name Founder Founded
Aetherius Society[2][3][9][13] George King 1955
Ashtar Galactic Command[10][11][14] 1977
The Seekers (aka Brotherhood of the Seven Rays)[14][15] Dorothy Martin (aka Marian Keech) 1950s
Chen Tao[14][16][17] Hon-ming Chen 1995
Cosmic Circle of Fellowship[18] William A. Ferguson 1955
Fiat Lux[11][19] Uriella
Ground Crew Project[11][14]
Guardian Activation International[14]
Heaven's Gate[9][20][21][22][23] Marshall Applewhite 1970s
Guy and Edna Ballard
"I AM" Activity[1] Guy Ballard 1930s
Industrial Church of the New World Comforter[14] Allen Michael 1973
Mark-Age[18][24] Charles Boyd Gentzel and Pauline Sharpe 1962
Ministry of Universal Wisdom[25][26] George Van Tassel 1953
Flag of the Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam[27] Wallace Fard Muhammad 1930
Alphabet of Nuwaubianism
Nuwaubianism[28][29] Dwight York 1970s
Order of the Solar Temple[9] Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret 1984
Outer Dimensional Forces (aka Armageddon Time Ark Base Operation)[30] Orville T. Nodrog 1966
Planetary Activation Organization[11][30]
A gathering of Raëlians in South Korea
Raëlism[2][3][10] Claude Vorilhon 1974
Sanctuary of Thought[31] Truman Bethurum 1954
A Scientology Center on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Scientology[3][10][11][12][32][33] L. Ron Hubbard 1952
Star Light Fellowship[18]
A map of Unarius centres worldwide
Unarius[9][13][14][34][35] Ernest Norman 1954
Universe People[36] Ivo A. Benda 1997
The Urantia Book
Urantia movement[13][37]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Partridge 2003, p. 7.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hunt, p. 226.
  3. ^ a b c d Partridge 2005, pp. 444–445
  4. ^ Hexham, p. 11.
  5. ^ a b c d Partridge 2003, p. 36.
  6. ^ Partridge 2003, p. 6.
  7. ^ Lewis 2003, p. xiii.
  8. ^ Hunt, p. 227.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Swatos, pp. 531–532.
  10. ^ a b c d e Reece, pp. 182–186.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Partridge 2004, p. 374.
  12. ^ a b Nelson, pp. 178–179.
  13. ^ a b c Landes, p. 411.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Tumminia, p. 4.
  15. ^ Leon Festinger, H. W. Riecken, Stanley Schachter (1956). When Prophecy Fails. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
  16. ^ Lewis 2003, pp. 301–303.
  17. ^ Lewis 2001, p. 371-372.
  18. ^ a b c Bainbridge, pp. 380–381.
  19. ^ Partridge 2003, p. 180.
  20. ^ Hunt, pp. 27–28.
  21. ^ Partridge 2003, p. 239.
  22. ^ Lewis 1995, p. 137.
  23. ^ Clarke, p. 227.
  24. ^ Lewis 2001, p. 367.
  25. ^ Partridge 2003, p. 162.
  26. ^ Gallagher, p. 216.
  27. ^ Partridge 2003, pp. 280–281.
  28. ^ Reece, p. 196.
  29. ^ Partridge 2003, pp. 281–282.
  30. ^ a b Landes, p. 412.
  31. ^ Gallagher, p. 215.
  32. ^ Partridge 2003, pp. 188, 263–265.
  33. ^ Lewis 2003, p. 42.
  34. ^ Lewis 1995, p. 85.
  35. ^ Hexham, p. 113.
  36. ^ Saliba 2006
  37. ^ Clarke, p. 153.


  • Bainbridge, William Sims (1996). The Sociology of Religious Movements. Routledge. ISBN 0415912024.  
  • Clarke, Peter Bernard (2006). New Religions in Global Perspective: A Study of Religious Change in the Modern World. Routledge. ISBN 0415257484.  
  • Gallagher, Eugene V.; W. Michael Ashcraft (2006). Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0275987124.  
  • Hexham, Irving (2002). Pocket Dictionary of New Religious Movements. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0830814663.  
  • Hunt, Stephen (2003). Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0754634108.  
  • Landes, Richard (2000). Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements. Routledge. ISBN 0415922461.  
  • Lewis, James R. (2003). The Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1573929646.  
  • Lewis, James R. (1995). The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0791423298.  
  • Lewis, James R. (2001). Odd Gods: New Religions and the Cult Controversy. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1573928429.  
  • Nelson, Victoria (2002). The Secret Life of Puppets. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674006305.  
  • Partridge, Christopher Hugh (2005). Introduction To World Religions. Fortress Press. ISBN 0800637143.  
  • Partridge, Christopher Hugh (2004). New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0195220420.  
  • Partridge, Christopher Hugh (2003). UFO Religions. Routledge. ISBN 0415263247.  
  • Reece, Gregory L. (2007). UFO Religion: Inside Flying Saucer Cults and Culture. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 1845114515.  
  • Saliba, John (November 2006). "The Study of UFO Religions". Nova Religio (Berkeley, California: University of California Press) 10 (2): 103–123. doi:10.1525/nr.2006.10.2.103.  
  • Swatos, William H.; Peter Kivisto (1998). Encyclopedia of Religion and Society. AltaMira Press. ISBN 0761989560.  
  • Tumminia, Diana G. (2005). When Prophecy Never Fails: Myth and Reality in a Flying-Saucer Group. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195176758.  

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