New Lighthouse (or Néo Phare, in the original French), is a cult in Nantes based on the theories of public relations man and former sales agent for France-Telecom, Arnaud Mussy. The sect is not large; it has never had more than 63 members. However, it received press in 2002 because of Mussy's repeated prediction that Nantes would be consumed by an apocalypse in which everybody would die as Earth was invaded by flying saucers filled with "beings of light." Naturally, his followers would be spared.

Members of the Order of the Solar Temple had similar beliefs, and committed mass suicide in 1994 and 1995, hoping their spaceship buddies would fly their spirits to Sirius. In 1997, essentially every member of wacky fringe religion Heaven's Gate killed themselves in order to catch a ride on a spaceship trailing the Hale-Bopp Comet. You can see why French officials were worried about New Lighthouse as well.

Objectively, the risk seems lower in this case, as this is not the first time Mussy has predicted the end of the world. He set an end-date in February, and another in July, then one in October, which he later amended by saying "at any event, before Christmas" (better hurry, man, I write this on December 22, and the aliens aren't here yet.) Through these various failed predictions, only one cult member has killed himself, though two others tried and failed. A number of followers have quit the organization, presumably fed up with the aliens' delay.

Néo Phare grew out of a less wacky outfit called Phare-Ouest, which Mussy took over in 1997. Fortean Times says that he was inspired by the writings of French clothing designer Paco Rabanne, who had prediced that Paris would be destroyed by the Russian space station Mir during a solar eclipse in 1999. Oops. A writer named André Bouguenec apparently contributed ideas as well.

Mussy claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. His brother Olivier, he says, is a pope. He calculates that the end of the world, when it comes, will last three difficult days, but assures us that the afterlife will be joyful.

Sources: Fortean Times 165, p.6
VOA News, Oct. 20, 2002, as reproduced in

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