(JTA) – Swastikas will be celebrated in cities throughout the United States and around the world in a day organized by the Raelian movement.
The group has announced rallies to take place June 23 in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Miami for the third annual Swastika Rehabilitation Day. Swastika banners will fly and street swastika animations will be presented in Karlsruhe, Germany, and in Tel Aviv.
The Raelian movement, founded in 1974, says that it has more than 70,000 members in 104 countries. Followers believe, according to the group’s website, that "thousands of years ago, scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image." Raelians also believes that the word "Elohim," one of the Hebrew words for God, refers to "people who came from the sky" and who sent "messengers" to teach humans non-violence and respect.
The movement’s symbol is a swastika embedded in a Jewish star.
"The swastika is one of the best traces left by those who created us, and the attempt to bury it as a symbol of violence and hatred only gives credit to the horrible Nazi ideology," Thomas Kaenzig, coordinator of World Swastika Rehabilitation Day, said in a news release. "Demystifying the original meaning of this beautiful symbol is the only solution.”
The Raelians have also invited Buddhists, Hindus and a number of spiritual groups who use the swastika as their spiritual symbol to show support for the day. Prior to the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s, the swastika was primarily considered a symbol of peace and good luck in many Eastern religions.
Kaenzig said it’s time to educate the public and rehabilitate what Raelians consider to be the most important symbol for humanity.
"We can’t accept the fact that the swastika is still being hijacked, just as Christians wouldn’t accept that the Christian cross was used to represent the ideology of the Ku Klux Klan. Images of swastikas within synagogues and various other ancient sites in Israel have also helped people of Jewish origin to recognize the importance of this rehabilitation day," he said.
Four years ago, the Raelians canceled a sex festival that was set to take place in Tel Aviv.