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.")

But 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.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated 2007) Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia page, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship. Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Saturday, May 31, 1975

May 1975 Notes

Dr. Karl Werner leaves his position as founding winemaster for Callaway Vineyard and Winery
and will oversee the development of the Fellowship's vineyard and winery.
He will officially become a Fellowship member on June 1, 1975. Photo: The Elysian Society

May 8:
Robert wore a suit and tie to tonight’s meeting (!) [ed. - Must have been the first occasion]

He said “higher forces may be decreasing the employment of ‘playing the fool’.”
May 12:
Robert’s "birthday." [ed. - His birth date is subject to debate!] The day was clouded by a “swimming incident” on the Yuba River. Cheryl Thompson, a Fellowship member, was swept away while swimming in the river, but was rescued downstream. This would give rise to a "no swimming" exercise.
[ed. - On May 29, 1980 this would become a "task" after Robert learned of Raymond Kennedy's drowning in Bali (or Tahiti?).]
May 18 – 27:
The vineyard nursery is planted with Chenin Blanc grapevine cuttings.
May 23:
The "Cabernet Slope" was planted with grapevine rootings

Callaway Winemaster Karl Werner arrived at the Farm today to oversee vineyard operations
May 26, Memorial Day:
We set the aim to complete the vineyard nursery project today (a “super-effort”). It actually wrapped up around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.
May 27:
After finishing the nursery, a mid-night meal was served at the Lodge. In typical fashion, to reward our efforts, letters clarifying donation requirements were handed out as we dined.
Riding to the Bay Area Meeting later in the day [now May 28], I was on I-80 west of Davis. I awoke as the motorcycle had drifted off the pavement, and into the gravel shoulder. Fortunately, I firmly steered straight, rather than make any abrupt change, and gradually slowed to a stop.

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