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Lectures / 04/02/2009 7:30 pm

Open Space?

UFO religions and the “Chariots of the Gods” – New religious ideas in the age of space travel?

In the early 1950s sensational reports of the sightings of so-called “Flying Saucers” (1949) featured claims about telepathic contacts and “real” meetings with extraterrestrials that stimulated religious ideas about an eschatological transformation of the world. Some of these early “witness” reports culminated in the formation of new age religious movements, of which several are still around today. Among the best known from the last decade are the Heaven’s Gate group, which collectively committed suicide in 1997 in San Diego, the internationally organised “Raelian Religion”, which caused a worldwide stir above all through their alleged cloning experiments carried out by a company called “Clonaid”, and the “Fiat Lux” group under the spiritual leadership of the medium “Uriella”, which is quite well-known at least in the German speaking world. Many elements of the UFO religion have also seeped into modern informal esoteric networks – such as the “pre-astronautical” speculations of Erich von Dänikens, who believes he is able to identify the putative “Gods” of earthly religions with “astronauts” from outer space.
These UFO related beliefs combine in a peculiarly modern manner elements of a scientific-technological wordview with traditional hopes of salvation arising from widely different sources. What makes them so fascinating and plausible that in the eyes of some people these alleged new agents of culture and salvation appear in the light of “angels in space suits”?

continuative Links:


  • J. Lewis (Hg.), Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions, Amherst/New York 2002.
  • Chr. Partridge, UFO-Religions, London 2003.
  • A. Grünschloß, Wenn die Götter landen ... Religiöse Dimensionen des UFO-Glaubens, EZW-Texte 153, Berlin 2000. Bezug über die Ev. Zentralstelle für Weltanschauungsfragen in Berlin.
  • R. Hempelmann u.a. (Hg), Panorama der neuen Religiosität, Sinnsuche und Heilsversprechen zu Beginn des 21. Jahrtausends, 2. Auflage, Gütersloh 2005.
  • L.A. Fischinger & R.M. Horn, UFO-Sekten, Rastatt 1999.


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04/02/2009 7:30 pm
Lecturer: Andreas Grünschloss
Host: Peter Becker


Programmbild Open Space?