Introduction


Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970. Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

According to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish while, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci), Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new and more perfect civilization. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Ex-Google worker claims religious sect members pushed him out


[ed. - Video's introduction from Steven Hassan's Freedom of Mind Resource Center]

"Kevin Lloyd, who was fired from his division at Google, claims it is because an authoritarian group - known as the Fellowship of Friends - has infiltrated his former workplace. Senior National Correspondent Brian Entin interviews Dr. Steven Hassan along with Charlotte Edwards, science and technology reporter for the Sun; they discuss the history of the Fellowship of Friends, how other authoritarian groups have infiltrated organizations to sway policy, and Lloyd's next possible move to achieve justice."
Steven Hassan (Wikipedia)

Friday, June 17, 2022

A Sect Lands Google in a Lawsuit

[ed. - See "Kevin Lloyd files complaint against Google, LLC"]

According to a friend, who sent the photo, "the NYT article appeared on the front page of today’s (Friday) Business section.

It continues on page 5, taking up the entire page." (The photo of Robert Burton by Gary Fong originally appeared

in a 1981 San Francisco Chronicle story about the Fellowship.)


[ed. - The above-cited New York Times article discusses Fellowship of Friends member Peter Lubbers:]

"The Google Developer Studio is run by Peter Lubbers, a longtime member of the Fellowship of Friends. A July 2019 Fellowship directory, obtained by The Times, lists him as a member. Former members confirm that he joined the Fellowship after moving to the United States from the Netherlands.

"At Google, he is a director, a role that is usually a rung below vice president in Google management and usually receives annual compensation in the high six figures or low seven figures.

"Previously, Mr. Lubbers worked for the staffing company Kelly Services. M. Catherine Jones, Mr. Lloyd’s lawyer, won a similar suit against Kelly Services in 2008 on behalf of Lynn Noyes, who claimed that the company had failed to promote her because she was not a member of the Fellowship. A California court awarded Ms. Noyes $6.5 million in damages. 
"Ms. Noyes said in an interview that Mr. Lubbers was among a large contingent of Fellowship members from the Netherlands who worked for the company in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
"At Kelly Services, Mr. Lubbers worked as a software developer before a stint at Oracle, the Silicon Valley software giant, according to his LinkedIn profile, which was recently deleted. He joined Google in 2012, initially working on a team that promoted Google technology to outside software developers. In 2014, he helped create G.D.S., which produced videos promoting Google developer tools. 
Kelly Services declined to comment on the lawsuit"

 

 

RELATED STORIES:

Google whistleblower claims tech giant's Developer Studio division has been infiltrated by 'pedophilic religious doomsday cult' Fellowship of Friends that was featured in a Spotify podcast series called 'Revelations' last year

Google whistleblower claims their Developer Studio infiltrated by a 'pedophilic doomsday cult' (Video: AI slide show and text of above story.)

"Oh, No! The 'Fellowship of Friends' Is NOT a Kook California Doomsday Cult — Oh, Wait!" 

The Fellowship of Friends on Twitter

The story even appears on Breitbart.

With their own brand of cult-like programming and conspiracy theories, David Horowitz's Freedom Center and jihadwatch.org; and freerepublic.com use the Google story to further stoke fear and political divisions.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Cult in Google

[ed. - This article by Kevin Lloyd appears on media.com. The New York Times Dealbook provides a synopsis of their story Kevin cites below.]

The Cult in Google

I worked for Google for about three and a half years as a video producer. I was fired because I raised alarm about a doomsday cult that dominated my former team there.

I first joined Google in 2017 as part of Google Developer Studio (GDS), a production company within the heart of Google, making advertisements, instructional content, and produced events, all for different teams within Google itself.

I was fired from my team there in February of 2021 because I raised alarm about a cult within Google, a group called the Fellowship of Friends. The group is well-documented: There are allegations of child abuse, human trafficking, forced abortions, and rape within the group, which has some 1,500 members worldwide and makes frequent prophecies of an imminent apocalypse.

The cult’s members dominate my former team at Google through favoritism and cronyism, not to mention direct payments back to the cult (thus funding its activities). I believe that as a result of my complaints about the Fellowship, I lost my job at Google. I have filed a lawsuit and my story [How a Religious Sect Landed Google in a Lawsuit] is out today in the New York Times. But I also wanted to tell my story in my own words, so here it goes.

I first started working for GDS in 2017. I’d been recommended by my friend, who I am going to refer to as Dan. Dan was also with GDS and I’d known him for over a decade.

Before joining the team, I’d been working in entertainment as a producer; I’d continue that work at GDS, this time in tech. It was my first job out of LA and my first job making good money. I could grow into this role. I was excited for my future, despite having left so much of my life in southern California.

When I showed up in Mountain View, I tried to get the lay of the land. I asked colleagues where they were from, where I should go, and what I should see. Most of them, including my boss and the director of our department, said they weren’t from San Francisco or the Bay Area. Not unusual, I wasn’t from the Bay Area either. What was unusual was that they were all from the same place, a town called “Oregon House,” which turned out not to be a city or an industry hub, but a small rural community about 150 miles north, outside of Sacramento. For a time, it seemed like half of my colleagues were from this very small place in the California foothills hours away from where we worked.

As I made friends at work, we started to talk about this. My colleagues also noticed how prevalent Oregon House was. Cronyism and nepotism is not uncommon, especially in my line of my work, but it was unusual on this scale: At least 12 people in of the 25, or so, I had met, all from this small town, all of whom knew each other beforehand and had close relationships.

The ties didn’t end there either. GDS contributed a lot of business to Oregon House, mostly wine. Oregon House has a winery — called “Grant Marie,” formerly “Renaissance” — from which we’d buy wine by the crate for the events we produced (between nine to 12 a year). They’d even set up booths just to talk about their wine at these events — events like the Google I/O after-party and the Android Summit, large events with thousands of guests. Sundar himself could have drank this wine — it was certainly served around him. The wine was our most consistent feature, and the invoices I’ve seen suggest we were buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth every year, just from Grant Marie.

I didn’t think much of it until around late 2018, while at lunch before a shoot. I was speaking to my director of photography, a freelancer for that day, meaning someone who didn’t regularly work with us. I asked him where he was from and he told me he was from Grass Valley, a small city north of Sacramento.

“Oh, you’re from the place everyone we work with is from,” chimed in my friend and co-worker, who was chatting with us.

“Oregon House,” I clarified for my friend.

At that, I saw the blood leave the freelancer’s face. He was gravely serious. “Oregon House isn’t a town,” he said. “It’s a cult.”

We chatted uneasily for the remainder of our meal. He told my friend and I what he meant: A group called the Fellowship of Friends lived in Oregon House, a group that our colleagues were likely a part of. I asked my fill of questions and it seemed like this person was pretty well versed on the Fellowship of Friends. But, of course, I couldn’t form a real impression from one conversation. I brushed it off and we moved on with the day. I pretended to forget.

When I got home, I looked into it. The Fellowship of Friends was a real, documented cult: I found support groups where ex-members talk about their time in the group, including discussions of sexual abuse and grooming. There were articles in mainstream outlets dating from the 1990s that described them as a cult (in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Sacramento Bee, to name a few), including an in-depth piece on the group’s “cult wine.” I even found episodes about them on a podcast aptly named “Cults.”

I can describe the cult in more detail. Some of this I learned long after I first looked up the Fellowship of Friends, including very recently through a detailed six-part podcast called “Revelations” that’s entirely focused on the cult.

The Fellowship of Friends is a bizarre group. It claims to have hundreds of members and dozens of “centers” across the world, many in “stately mansions” outside major cities like Paris. They reportedly try to recruit in different countries. One of the things they became known for was placing bookmarks in metaphysical bookstores — some members have described looking for guidance in a book, coming across a Fellowship of Friends bookmark, and joining the group as a result.

The group puts a premium on “high culture.” At its headquarters in Oregon House, in a compound called Apollo, members describe studying philosophy, art, and music, watching ballet performances, and practicing the violin, all while working on the cult’s natural wine vineyards. Members describe paying at least 10 percent of any earnings to the cult as a tithe, with the group receiving millions every year as a result. Its leader, Robert Earl Burton, reportedly goes on lavish shopping sprees all over the world using members’ tithe money, buying European paintings, Ming dynasty furniture, expensive clothing, and exotic animals like white camels and peacocks.

The compound, named “Apollo,” has been referenced as an “ark” and cult members believe that when the world ends, they will help rebuild a new one.

The culture and fine wine hid their other activities though: Robert Earl Burton has reportedly sexually abused dozens of members. Members have described him grooming and sexually assaulting male followers, including minors, and described at least one “love fest” where he tried to have sex with as many as 100 of his male followers in a single day. He has settled a lawsuit by a former member for sexual assault. He reportedly forbade other members from having sex outside of marriage; one member described being fined $1,500 for having sex with a woman when they weren’t married.

I’ve seen statements alleging that women were forced to undergo abortions when they got pregnant because it “wasn’t time for children to be on the ark.” Homosexual relationships were reportedly forbidden (except for the leaders of course) and same-sex couples were forced to break up. Men from across the world were reportedly flown into the country on religious visas to visit the compound before learning that sexual favors were an expected part of their stay — sex trafficking, in other words.

The Fellowship of Friends is also seemingly a patriarchal, Anglo-centric, Europhilic group. Women were disparaged and subservient to male members: Robert Earl Burton taught that women were less spiritual beings than men, and there’s only one woman among the 81 “angels” who look over the group (Queen Elizabeth I). Its leaders were seemingly obsessed with white European culture — Robert Earl Burton’s chateau in Oregon House was created in the style of a French villa, its grounds host a statue of Ganymede, and European arts, music, and dance dominate the group’s culture. One former member called the culture “white supremacist.”

Not only that, but there was pretty suggestive evidence that my colleagues were a part of it. I found property records of both my boss and the director of our department, both listing Oregon House addresses. I also found photos of both of them with the leader, Robert Earl Burton.

It was clear to me what was going on.

I was devastated and furious — I’d been unknowingly supporting a cult, a group with a well-documented history of sexually abusing its youngest members, and I’d moved nearly four hundred miles away to do so. Worse, more than a dozen of my colleagues were seemingly in on it, people like my direct manager. I did not know who I could trust, but I resolved to do something. I thought, naively in hindsight, that if I could make people aware of this, there would be change.

The first chance I got, I brought it up with my friend Dan, who was a manager within Google by this time and, more importantly, someone I knew wasn’t in the cult.

Within a week of my discovery I spotted Dan in our office. I approached his desk and let him know that I had found out something very disturbing about a number of our colleagues.

“I think I know what you’re going to say,” he said, to my surprise. “Let’s go off campus.”

So I drove us to a ramen shop in downtown Mountain View. He told me that he already knew about Oregon House: Another concerned manager had let it spill while drinking, weeks earlier. People already knew, he said.

That didn’t surprise me; it would have been hard not to raise suspicions that something was going on. But what did surprise me was how he dealt with it. He told me that the cult was a problem and he was horrified just as I was after initial research. Despite this, he had softened on them, at least as they existed within GDS. He liked our department lead, Peter [ed. - Peter Lubbers, currently Director, Google Developer Studio], and said he was a “good guy,” despite what he was doing for the Fellowship of Friends. He felt he owed him for a recent promotion.

At a certain point, he said he had thought about both quitting and complaining up the ladder, but ultimately decided against either. He thought complaining could lead not only to the loss of his job, but the destruction of our whole department. The loss of all our jobs. GDS, in his mind, wasn’t on steady ground. A revelation like this would be its end.

He instructed me to keep quiet. He told me not to tell anyone and to tell anyone I had already informed to do the same. He reminded me again that if I complained about this, I could lose my job. Strangely, he threw in that “Peter is a powerful guy.” It was unsettling to say the least.

My anxiety reached new levels. I’d thought there was a path forward, but now I felt trapped. I started looking for other work. As Dan had said, there weren’t a lot of options, good or otherwise, for people working in video productions in the Bay Area. I had work, but it now involved keeping quiet about a destructive cult, a doomsday cult, growing in influence in our department. I heard of new members regularly being added and I saw how existing members excelled, further boosting the status of the Fellowship of Friends within our department. Conversely, it seemed the Fellowship members who were on the outs with the group were made to leave. Seemingly, where you stood with the Fellowship of Friends very much related to where you stood with GDS.

Still, I did as Dan said for longer than I’d like to admit. I cautioned my peers not to talk about the cult, at lunch, in the studio at work. I tried to put distance between myself and the problem. I engaged less with Fellowship of Friends members. I avoided work social functions wherever I wouldn’t be noticed.

One night, it got the better of me. I went to the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack. I was 31. They said it was nerves, a panic attack, the first of my life. The consulting physician asked me if there was any stress in my life. All I could say was “work.” I knew I had to do something.

I went back to Dan, but his line was clearer now, more rehearsed. At his home, over a drink, he cut me off the moment I raised the cult as a concern. He told me to drop it and, for that day, I did. I felt defeated. Weeks later, I steeled myself and tried again, more forcefully. I wouldn’t back down this time. It was an explosive argument, the first and only I had had with my friend Dan and the last time I’d be alone in a room with him. I begged him to go to HR. I pleaded with him to help me do something. He had access. I did not. I was a TVC — which stands for “temps, vendors, and contractors,” a designation within Google for workers who aren’t full-time employees and are hired by third parties companies, not by Google itself. We do the same work as full-time Google employees — I worked right alongside them — but we don’t have the same corporate benefits.

If I went to my HR department, they’d have no power over Google. In fact, they were entirely beholden to Google. They had disregarded colleagues who had complained about more clear-cut issues like a drunk and unruly manager. “Why are you telling me this?” they’d ask. “Don’t tell me this.”

I left Dan’s that night knowing I’d need to figure this out on my own. Then, COVID happened. Suddenly a dangerous cult seemed like less of a priority. I was allowed to work from home, I even moved to a different state. The problem grew distant and I was finding a semblance of peace. I didn’t have to see my old manager, the director of our department, or even Dan. My work went well. I received only positive reviews, zero complaints, and my client was looking to bring me on as a genuine, full-time employee of Google. Besides that, I was up for a promotion. Things felt better.

Then, without warning or reason, I was fired. The person who actually gave me the decision didn’t know why they were doing it. They said they had no involvement in the decision. They asked me if I knew why I was being fired. I said “I assume you would know, right?” They didn’t. (A funny detail: The raise for that promotion I was given was processed after I was fired, so I received two last checks at the higher rate. Fired and promoted at the same time.)

Even though Dan was not in my chain of supervisors, I’m convinced he helped to orchestrate my termination. I believe he saw me as an existential threat, to him, his colleagues and their jobs. The purported reasoning for my termination was an email I had sent requesting the retention of an editor, which was a completely normal business issue. In retrospect, it looks like Dan was looking for pretext to shuffle me off for some time before that.

In the middle of a pandemic, in a new state, I was unemployed — fired, for the first time in my professional career. I had recently joined the Alphabet Workers Union, the union of now almost 1,000 workers across all Alphabet companies, including Google. I told them my story and they advised that I get a lawyer. Fifteen months later and this is where I am: the lawsuit is pending, I’m still unemployed, and I see no change in the cult that essentially runs an entire department within Google.

Still, I’m optimistic. I was not the first or the last person to complain. I know of at least four former colleagues who’ve also spoken out about this. None of those complaints have thus far been taken seriously, likely because they are coming from TVCs like me. I have heard that agitation against the cult is increasing.

Google knows about this problem. Managers know full well that a destructive cult, a group credibly alleged to be involved in the sexual abuse of possibly hundreds of followers, including children, has significant influence over an important team within the company. Yet they turn a blind eye, ignoring their own workers who’ve spoken out. I’m doing my best to hold them accountable.

If you want to get in touch, email me at kwilliamlloyd@protonmail.com

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Bigger Than the Pope: Jennings Brown on Teal Swan & The Fellowship of Friends

[ed. - Sarah Edmondson and Anthony “Nippy” Ames, hosts of the "A Little Bit Culty" podcast and former NXIVM members, interview Jennings Brown about his investigation into The Fellowship of Friends. From their website's "About" page:

Think you might be in a cult? Want to know the signs? Join Sarah Edmondson and Anthony “Nippy” Ames to talk about things that are...a little bit culty. Or in their case: a whole bunch of culty. As whistleblowers documented in the critically-acclaimed HBO series “The Vow,” Sarah and Nippy have a lot to say about their experience, and burning questions to ask people with similar stories. They’re here to help people understand, heal from, and avoid abusive situations one little red flag at a time. Listen in as they share their stories, have frank and unscripted conversations with other survivors and cult experts, and do a deep dive on how devotion can turn to dysfunction.

(Note: The player should start at the 46-minute mark, where the conversation turns to the Fellowship. You may need to press the control button several times for it start at that mark. If you hear, "flying monkeys," you're in the right spot (and some may be reminded of our friend Bruce Levy.)]



The discussion continues here: Bigger Than the Pope: Jennings Brown on Teal Swan & The Fellowship of Friends (Part 2).

 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Robert Earl Burton: Californian guru devoted to finer things in life accused of sex assaults

[ed. - The following article appears in The Times of London. (It appears the author must have seen a CliffsNotes version of Jennings Brown's original investigative journalism.)]

Charlie Mitchell
Saturday November 13 2021, 12.01am GMT
The Times
 
Robert Earl Burton, now in his 80s, has not responded to the allegations

When a charismatic leader established a would-be utopia devoted to fine art, higher consciousness and the production of wine in 1970s California, it drew hundreds of devotees from across America.However, Robert Earl Burton’s teachings soon grew more apocalyptic and allegations of sexual exploitation began to trickle out. Burton is alleged to have abused scores of male followers, particularly those who were young, attractive and heterosexual. There are claims of sex rituals, dubbed “love fests”, where Burton would attempt to have sex with 100 followers in a day.

A podcast called Revelations, the product of three years of work by Jennings Brown, an American investigative journalist, is now lifting the lid on the Fellowship of Friends, which today has about 1,600 members.


Burton next a piece of European art at the Fellowship of Friends property in 1981

Gary Fong/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

“It sounded stranger than fiction,” Brown, who first learnt of the cult while speaking to the husband of the American spiritual leader Teal Swan, told Spending time there was “surreal”. He added: “It was fascinating being around all these incredibly brilliant, articulate, kind people who were all out in this world that felt separated from the world that I knew.” But soon, amid whispers of sex rituals, he realised “there was so much more going on.”

Life on the 1,200-acre Apollo compound in Oregon House, California, was always dictated by Burton’s whims. The former Arkansas teacher, now in his early 80s, recast himself as a guru in the 1970s after developing the teachings of George Gurdjieff, a Russian mystic, and his Fourth Way school of self-awareness. Burton preached full immersion in high art and the abolition of negative thoughts. His mission, according to the podcast, was to start a new refined civilisation that would emerge from the approaching apocalypse.

Sport, humour, glasses, using the word “I” and even pregnancy were forbidden. Adherents were encouraged to take up ballet, painting and classical music. They also funded his “Galleria”, an impressive collection of mostly European artwork, kept in his home. Women were thought to be spiritually inferior, Brown claims.

“Nathan”, one of dozens of current and former members interviewed by the journalist, claimed that Burton insisted his wife terminate their child. “His explanation was that the child would be born too soon to be included on the ark. And being the fool that I was, I accepted the explanation,” Nathan said. “It wasn’t my best act here on Earth. My wife didn’t agree to it. It was kind of against her will.”

In 1996 a lawsuit was filed by Troy Buzbee, a former member, who claimed Burton abused him. The suit was settled out of court. By then, the community was large enough to have outposts in Paris and London, Brown said. When the Buzbee allegations made recruiting in America harder, they started recruiting more aggressively in Latin America and Russia.

The group was once investigated by immigration officials for allegedly bringing foreign recruits into the US on religious visas, Brown said, before coercing them into sexual slavery. No charges were brought. Prosecutors cite difficulties in pursuing religious groups, who are protected by the First Amendment.

The group has not responded publicly to the claims laid out in Revelations. However, Greg Holman, its president, told Brown he did not believe the assault allegations were true but that any community member was welcome to come to him with facts and evidence.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Sex rituals and fine wines: Inside alleged Cali cult the Fellowship of Friends

 [ed. - The following article appears in the New York Post. Also see The Times of London's reporting, Robert Earl Burton: Californian guru devoted to finer things in life accused of sex assaults.]

Sex rituals and fine wines: Inside alleged Cali cult the Fellowship of Friends 

By Sara Stewart
November 9, 2021
7:25pm Updated 
 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

"We totally got away with it."

Fellowship of Friends - "A non-profit religious organization" (fellowshipoffriends.com)

"We never started out as a religion of any kind. The fact that the Fellowship is running around now saying that it's a religion is a result of the (IRS) audit. So, we made up the religion of the Fellowship of Friends to cover the fact that, otherwise, it was just Robert doing whatever the hell he wanted.

And we wrote the Canons of the Fellowship, all of its philosophies and everything, and that's what we presented to the IRS to justify ourselves. So, in a way, it was all a lie." 

 - Charles Randall, former Fellowship of Friends CFO (from "Revelations Act V")


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

SFGATE reports on the "Revelations" podcast

[ed. - Published in the SFGATE, October 27, 2021. Text of story follows. You can also hear Jennings Brown interviewed on the "Trust Me: Cults, Extreme Belief, and the Abuse of Power" podcast series.]

New podcast investigates abuse accusations at the NorCal cult that pioneered natural wine

'Revelations' pulls back the curtain on Fellowship of Friends

Nearly everything about the Fellowship of Friends feels like the stuff of fiction. In the 1970s, a charismatic leader builds a community devoted to high art and higher consciousness. The burgeoning group plants a vineyard 2.5 hours north of San Francisco and finds itself at the vanguard of the natural wine movement. The teaching turns apocalyptic, but the end of the world stubbornly fails to arrive. And then, as so often is the case, the absolute power corrupts the man in charge without consequence.

But the story of the Fellowship is all too real. And in a new podcast from the journalist Jennings Brown, which premiered this month on Spotify, allegations of abuse by the charismatic leader Robert Burton are laid out in chilling detail over the course of six episodes. With “Revelations,” Brown takes us to the Fellowship’s compound in Oregon House, California, and then shows us how Burton used his perch atop the Fellowship to allegedly abuse scores of young male followers for years. Brown hopes that finally, two decades after the first allegations were made public, there will be justice for the survivors.

In November 2017, at another commune called Teal Tribe, Brown had a fateful conversation. He was working on his Gizmodo podcast “The Gateway,” which told the story of Teal Swan, a controversial social-media savvy guru with a fervently devoted following. “I was out at her healing retreat center in Costa Rica, which was weirdly similar to ‘Nine Perfect Strangers,’” Brown tells me over Zoom from his Brooklyn apartment. 

Swan’s then-husband Ale Gicqueau mentioned that his own awakening had begun at a compound in Northern California with a spiritual group called the Fellowship of Friends, but he eventually came to see the Fellowship as a predatory cult. “But the way [Gicqueau] described it, it just seemed like this fantasy land,” says Brown. “This strange Shangri-La out in the wilderness where they had this giant vineyard and were collecting Renaissance art and had an amphitheater and this pantheon of 44 angels, that included Shakespeare, Bach, Rembrandt and da Vinci. I’m just like, ‘What the hell is this?’”

Brown filed the information away, eventually returning to what he believed would be a magazine feature in 2018. It proved to be fortuitous timing. Burton had predicted that October 2018 would be an Armageddon; after the collapse, their sprawling property out in Oregon House, California, would serve as a Noah’s Ark of sorts from which to restart society. 

To Brown’s surprise, he was invited to attend the End Times event at Apollo, the name Burton had given his 1,200-acre forested compound. “So, I was there for their final black-tie dinner before the end of the world,” Brown says. “I mean, as a journalist, I was like, ‘How often am I going to get a chance to see an apocalyptic group in the days leading up to their predicted apocalypse?’ I thought that was the story.”