by Scott Ladd
According to many supposed UFO witnesses men in black show up shortly after an extraterrestrial encounter to contain the situation and cover up the evidence. A government cover up has been alleged concerning the Roswell Incident. On June 14, 1947 a rancher by the name of W. W. Brazel found the remains of something that had fallen from the sky above his ranch in Lincoln County NM, near Roswell. The official military explanation has been that this was the landing site of a high altitude radar reflector that was suspended by a balloon. This explanation is consistent with the description of the materials found at the site, and remained for over thirty years without contention. In 1978 conspiracy stories began to surface in books and tabloids. Reports were now coming out that not only was the government aware of an alien spaceship crash but that bodies of aliens had been recovered. For more than fifteen years these stories grew and in February 1994 a member of Congress launched an official audit of Government documents concerning the incident. This audit failed to turn up any document which would dispute the balloon explanation in favor of a spaceship crash. Despite the lack of any evidence conspiracy theories continue to thrive.
One common source of UFO reports has been sightings of NASA Stratospheric Research Balloons. These balloons are made of a translucent, highly reflective material and reach diameters of over four hundred feet. Flights occur some thirty five times a year at altitudes of up to twenty six miles or 137,000 feet, and last from twelve hours to two weeks in duration. The most common launch sites for these balloons are Paris TX and Ft Sumner NM about eighty miles north of Roswell. As an Air Traffic Controller at Tucson Airport Traffic Control Tower I have witnessed these balloons first hand. Their appearance is extremely ominous and intriguing. Shortly after sundown while the area beneath the balloon is dark, the balloon , because of the extremely high altitude remains in the sunlight for quite some time. Against a dark sky they glow like a giant diamond suspended in the air. Although they may be seen from more than a hundred miles away, they seem to be much closer due to their size. I witnessed this scientific balloon west of Las Cruces New Mexico just after sundown about a year and a half ago. My family and I were not the only ones to see it however. The next morning every local paper had front page coverage and although the papers I read did a marvelous job of presenting the facts about these balloons, there were still a great number of skeptics. Some eyewitnesses reported a sort of hieroglyphic writing on the side of these spaceships, others got a better look, seeing faces of aliens through the windows. This goes to show just how far someone's imagination can take them, especially in south central New Mexico, where UFO sightings and the sincere belief in extra-terrestrials is common.
What difference if any does the belief in UFO's and alien life forms make with respect to how we live and how we make decisions?
For some the interest in UFO's and alien beings is nothing more than science fiction. For others, the interest has become an absolute obsession. A little over a year ago the world was stunned as the San Diego Sheriff's Department removed one body after another from a Rancho Santa Fe mansion after the mass suicide of thirty nine members of the Heaven's Gate cult. The deaths did not end there however. Recently another member of Heaven's Gate committed suicide bringing the number to forty dead in all. These people had believed a gospel presented by Marshall Applewhite. They believed that they were all chosen people that were about to take the next step in their evolution by leaving their bodies and joining highly evolved alien beings aboard a spaceship which was disguised in the tail of Hale-Bopp comet.
As the third millennium approaches we see groups like this one steadily on the rise. Fear of worldwide destruction has been a motivator for the formation of many of these cults. The cult leader places him or herself in the unique position as the messiah, their savior from this impending doom.
One such group that has received a great deal of attention recently is "Chen Tao", translated "the true way". This group of approximately one hundred sixty members is led by a forty one year old man from Taiwan named Hon Ming Chen. Chen led followers from Taiwan to San Dimas California and then to Garland Texas, a Dallas suburb. After a string of false prophesies, Chen has now taken his group to Alcott New York near Buffalo. Chen has been teaching the destruction of mankind brought about through global nuclear war. True to the form of other "doomsday cults", biblical salvation is re-defined to place the leader in the role of Christ and point their followers toward works and devotion to the group rather than faith in the reigning resurrected Christ.
Chen Tao followers confidently looked forward to the fulfillment of teacher Chen's prophesies regarding the appearance of God in March, 1998. Chen predicted that God Himself would appear on the television of every American household. God's debut was scheduled for 12:01 CST, March 25th., channel 18. If God did appear, He did so in the form of movies, sitcoms, info- mercials and static. By some ridiculous notion Chen suggested that perhaps God was camera shy. God's television appearance was merely the forerunner event which according to Chen would precede His actual bodily appearance on March 31st. A scrap wood and used tire spaceship was built for this occasion. God would rescue them using spaceships coming down to earth in the form of clouds. In an effort to convince us of his sincere belief concerning these prophesies, Chen offered his own life as proof of their accuracy. Chen brazenly challenged onlookers to stone him to death or to crucify him if these prophesies did not come to pass. From these remarks it is clear that Chen identifies himself with Jesus Christ in his own mind. This publicity stunt proved to be costly to the taxpayers of Garland. Police protection and other associated costs were estimated at $130,000 as multiple blocks where Chen's followers lived, were cordoned off out of fear of a lynch attempt or mass suicide.
The official position of the group is that life is sacred and therefore suicide is not an option. This statement however rings ominously familiar to the statements made by Marshall Applewhite and the Heaven's Gate cult members. Apparently not all of Chen's followers held so highly the sanctity of life. The day after God failed to show up on television, a forty three year old Taiwanese man named Yang Ching Feng drown himself off shore at a fishing port near Keelung in Taiwan.
Although teacher Chen admitted that he had prophesied falsely, instructed his followers that his predictions were "nonsense" and that they should not pay any more attention to his teachings but rather leave his group and go back to Taiwan, his humility appears to be nothing more that another smoke screen. Impressed by his sincerity, his followers appear to be all the more devoted to his leadership. Chen still insists on making prophesies and bold statements. Chen blasphemously proclaims that two thousand years ago he fathered the child Jesus of Nazareth. He also claims that Jesus and the Buddha are currently re-incarnated in two young boys who are part of his cult. Along side such brash statements, Chen has set another date in which his followers may hold onto with the anticipation that they will be rescued. According to Chen, September, 1999 will bring salvation to him and his followers as they are taken to Mars. Again this salvation will be achieved through the aid of a spaceship.
What a tragedy it is for people to put the hope of their salvation in far fetched ideas like saving aliens and spaceships shaped like clouds.
Two thousand years ago Jesus proclaimed to the world that He was the only source of salvation. He allowed his own innocent blood to be shed in order to provide forgiveness for our sins. Three days later He proved his claims to be true by rising from the dead. An equally true promise remains today for those who put their faith in Him. When the inevitable destruction of mankind comes, this same Jesus will spare His believers and keep them with Him for ever and ever. What a tremendous hope we have and what a superior one to the hope of those who put their faith in being rescued by space aliens aboard UFOs.