As a French-language documentary series living up to its title in nearly every way conceivable, Netflix’s ‘Raël: The Alien Prophet’ can only be described as baffling, intriguing, and haunting. That’s because it carefully incorporates not just archival footage but also exclusive interviews with key figures to really shine a light upon how the UFO-inspired religion Raëlism is cult-like. Yet, if we’re being honest, the one aspect to have caught our attention the most throughout this original was leader Claude “Raël” Vorilhon’s personal unions, especially with Sophie de Niverville.
Claude “Raël” Vorilhon Has Been Married Thrice
It was reportedly back in 1970 that sports journalist Claude came across local nurse Marie-Paul Cristini for the first time in Paris, only for them to soon fall utterly head over heels in love. The truth is they actually tied the knot shortly thereafter, meaning she was right by his side when he established his sports car magazine before things turned upside down in late 1973. She was pregnant with their first child when he allegedly experienced an alien visit, prompting him to give up his entire career in favor of launching an international religious movement as Prophet.
Nevertheless, Marie stuck by Claude, even as he changed his name to Raël, closed down his publishing house in 1974, evolved into a pastoral author, and started setting up Raëlism practices. She reportedly gaily welcomed another child into their family during this period, but then came the unhappiness as her husband started getting involved with other women in the name of religion. In her own words, she witnessed several nude gatherings in their living room over the year and was subsequently treated as a servant while he “brainwashed” their kids to join his movement too.
Marie has since said, “I thought I had married a fairly ordinary, if slightly egotistical, man. Not a freak. At first, I believed that Claude really thought what he was saying was true, but over the years, I began to think the whole Raëlian movement was a trick to have more sex and to satisfy the enormous ego and need to be worshipped that he had always had.” She also asserted, “When I finally left him in 1985, we were living in Spain, where we had moved after France banned his sect. He had turned the children against me, and one day, he simply said he had no more use for me.”
Then there’s Lisa Sunagawa, whom Raël had apparently met in Japan by 1987 while spreading his Raëlism message of extraterrestrial existence and them having created humanity/our world. She thus unsurprisingly soon began accompanying him during his travels across the globe before also being seen holding hands with him in the 1990 television documentary ‘They’re Coming!’ However, this seemingly adorable couple couldn’t make things work in the long run — likely for the same reasons his marriage with Marie failed — and they separated sometime between 1990 and 1992.
This is actually around the same time teenager Sophie de Niverville came into the picture, whose mother as well as aunt were both Raëlians and wholeheartedly believed in Raël’s unique messages. Therefore, once he began claiming the former was literally made for him following her Raëlian baptism at age 15/16, her mother consented to her tying the knot with the man over 30 years her elder. As per the documentary, he’d asserted “she was born to serve him” — that “Sophie’s birth had been programmed by the Elohim [extrateristrials] so she was preordained to become Raël’s partner.”
Sophie hence “accompanied Raël to several events,” according to journalist Brigitte McCann in the original production. “But she was very discreet, and they used that. She served as an ambassador for the movement for activities that required nudity. For example, she posed naked for Playboy. She posed naked with a UFO in the background to promote the movement. Raël never posed naked in any magazines ever.” But alas, in the end, per the detailed four-part docuseries, following 25 years of living together in a seemingly blissful relationship, he again “got rid of her [almost overnight], like a child who throws away a toy he doesn’t want anymore.”
Claude “Raël” Vorilhon’s Ex-Wives Have Different Opinions of Him
Starting with Marie-Paul Cristini, from what we can tell, she has since returned to not only her homeland of France but also nursing to build a much different, more stable life for herself. Though she hasn’t really forgiven Raël for destroying her and their children’s lives, especially as it wasn’t until the early 2000s that their daughter and son managed to escape his religion. “They were so young and innocent. They should never have been exposed to the debauched and wicked things that went on in our home,” she once said. “The kids believed him… they’d had it drummed into them since before they could talk. What he did to them was hateful — he devastated their lives.
This virtual recluse also added that despite the fact the trio has been rebuilding their connection gradually, she doesn’t “blame them for hating me. I am partly responsible because I didn’t get them away from him. But Claude had some sort of psychological grip on me that I couldn’t shake off. I believed the children needed a father and every day of their lives, I prayed he would stop being Raël and become Claude again, but he never did. He is a very cynical, manipulative, and charismatic man. I just did not have the strength to leave.”
Coming to Lisa Sunagawa, she appears to keep her life well away from the limelight these days, meaning we unfortunately don’t know much regarding either her personal or professional standing. Last but not least, there’s Sophie de Niverville, who, despite her divorce from Raël plus the work she was asked to do, continues to unwaveringly support him as well as Raëlism. In other words, she seems to still be an active member of the International Raëlian Movement and is proud to continue serving as its brand ambassador in whatever capacity.
Read More: Pierre Gary: Where is the Raëlian Now?