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UFOs, Skinwalker Ranch and Mormons interested in aliens

A flying saucer making a crop circle in a wheat field.
A flying saucer making a crop circle in a wheat field. | Getty Images/Mark Stevenson

Congress captivated the country last week with the first public hearings about whether the U.S. government has proof of extraterrestrial beings visiting Earth.

What we used to call UFOs are now named UAPs, which stands for "unidentified anomalous phenomena." The December 2021 National Defense Authorization Act established an office to address "unidentified aerial phenomena" and report back to Congress with its findings. One witness, David Grusch, a former intelligence officer, claimed the U.S. government had a UAP crash retrieval and reverse-engineering program that he learned about when working in the Pentagon. Grusch also promised Congress to provide a list of witnesses to support his testimony and provide concrete evidence of "non-human biologics" recovered from the UAP crashes. 

However, a spokesperson for that office denies such evidence exists. The two other witnesses, David Fravor and Ryan Graves, related their experience with the mysterious objects while serving as U.S. Navy pilots back in 2004. Graves explained that his experience was not rare or isolated and believed the American people had a right to know. Graves recounted the stories of others who saw weird objects in a military training facility off the east coast, but he never personally witnessed one.

Some reputable UAP skeptics felt that nothing new came out of the hearing. Most of the testimony was just a repetition of the reporting from the N.Y. Times article that initially came out in 2017 about Fravor's "tic tac" encounter. Could the images have been a problem with the radar, or were they just balloons? No one asked hard questions, and they didn't discuss the range of possibilities. It could have just been Chinese spy balloons, but everyone wanted to talk about aliens. There was a lot of storytelling without any objective evidence, both for the 2017 story and at this hearing. The witnesses even cited the N.Y. Times article as why they first became interested in the phenomena. It seems Congress had not discovered anything new.  

As a former federal contractor who spent two decades working in classified national security programs for nearly every branch of the U.S. government, I did not meet anyone who worked on a UAP program. So for me, I question why such a program is now so publicly revealed and what is the motive for doing so. The answers to those questions are not easy to ascertain, but there is definitely a bizarre set of facts surrounding the U.S. government's pursuit of the paranormal.  

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The U.S. government has a long and sordid history investigating UFO sitings and the search for other life outside of our planet. Americans' fascination with UFOs started in July 1947 when the U.S. Air Force allegedly recovered an alien spacecraft — and its occupants — near Roswell, N.M., popularly referred to as "Area 51." The U.S. military was tasked with discovering whether an alien force had arrived on our planet or simply a rival power had made unexpected aerodynamic advancements. That same year, the Air Force started a program to investigate UFO sightings called Project BLUE BOOK until it was phased out in 1969. About 700 sightings were still categorized as "Unidentified," according to the National Archives.

Flash forward to the early 2000s and then Senator Harry Reid discreetly starts a military program to once again fund research into the paranormal. Robert Bigelow, an eccentric aerospace entrepreneur whose company received the grants, was also a regular contributor to Reid's re-election campaigns. He spoke openly about his views that extraterrestrial visitors frequently travel to Earth. He also purchased the Skinwalker Ranch in Utah, which is the subject of intense interest among believers in the paranormal. This is where the story gets very strange. 

The Ranch, located in west Uintah County of Utah, was popularly dubbed the UFO ranch because of a 50-year history of odd events that have taken place there. In 2005, Colm Kelleher and co-author George Knapp publish the book, Hunt for the Skinwalker, and explain how Bigelow acquired the Ranch to study anecdotal sightings of UFOs, bigfoot-like creatures, cattle mutilations, crop circles, and poltergeist activity reported by its former owners.

Then Defense Intelligence Agency official James Lacatski reached out to Kelleher and Knapp for permission to visit the ranch as part of his research into the paranormal. Lacatski had a supernatural experience there, which Bigelow relayed to his friend Senator Harry Reid. Reid quickly agreed that the Ranch deserved attention and inserted a line into the 2007 Department of Defense budget appropriating $22 million to study unidentified aerial phenomena. The details of this Defense program get a bit murky, with conflicting accounts of who ran the office and what it was named, but the 2017 New Yotk Times expose catapulted their work to worldwide attention. Noticeably absent from the reporting — either by the Times or the Washington Post, is any mention of the wacky Skinwalker Ranch. The office's funding officially ended around 2012, but many individuals involved did not abandon the cause. 

Today, the Skinwalker Ranch is owned by millionaire real estate mogul and devout Mormon leader Brandon Fugal. Fugal has spent millions of dollars of his own money to investigate antigravity technology and bought the Ranch in 2016 to further explore his fascination with the extraterrestrial. The History Channel has done more than three seasons of "The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch," which details the spooky activity on the Ranch.

The show features Fugal and his team of investigators — most of whom also happen to be Mormon worshippers. It's interesting to note that Senator Reid was also a devout Mormon and publicly stated "I'm not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going." It is unclear from any news reporting or past interviews of Reid or Fugal and his team to what extent their Mormon doctrine drives them to investigate the paranormal. In Mormonism, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught that God was once a man on another planet and that he created our Universe when he ascended to Godhood. Essentially, that would mean God is an alien life form. Ultimately this hunt for aliens could all be an effort to legitimize Mormon beliefs. 

It is unclear whether any of the legislators in Congress who hosted the hearing last week know of the strange nexus between the U.S. government UAP program and the Mormons at Skinwalker Ranch. Even the star witness, David Gorsuch is linked to Skinwalker Ranch through his former UAP boss, Jay Stratton. Stratton claims he was haunted by ghosts and werewolves after visiting the ranch and is featured on one of the TV episodes. Stratton and Travis Taylor, now chief investigator at the ranch, also had a lead role with the government's Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) Task Force.

After countless hours researching the origins of supposedly credible UFO investigations by the U.S. government and the bizarre accounts of folks who visit the Skinwalker Ranch, I wonder what this all means for the average American and a follower of Christ.

Unsurprisingly, many of the leading Ufologists have confirmed that alien encounters clearly resemble accounts of demons throughout history. Much of the available UFO literature is closely linked with mysticism and the metaphysical. It deals with subjects like telepathy and phenomena like poltergeist [ghost] manifestation and "possession." Many UFO reports now being published in the popular press recount alleged incidents strikingly similar to demonic possession and psychic phenomena. Christian authors investigating the UFO phenomena have consistently concluded that these sightings and alleged abductions or experiences are demonic and offer the most plausible explanation for the encounters.

Other Christian commentators think the aliens may be the hybrid creation known as Nephilim, initially mentioned in Genesis 6:4. Nephilim were demons that mated with humans to create super beings that wreaked havoc on humanity. Though destroyed by God after the flood, many believe they are disembodied spirits still causing trouble for mankind. Still, others think it is within God's providence to create beings on other planets, and the existence of such does not negate the supremacy or authenticity of the biblical account of man and our planet. 

Whichever theory one finds most plausible, the most important thing to remember is the sovereignty of God over all creation. Jesus warned us of great deceptions that would take place in the End Times. "For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Mathew 24:24).

The controversy surrounding aliens is another reminder that we should not be distracted or enchanted by seemingly unexplainable events of this world. The fact that the government program is connected to the outlandish claims at Skinwalker Ranch proves that we don't need to worry about aliens invading Earth any time soon.

Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel.  She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations, and her daily podcast

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