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.

Wednesday, December 31, 1975

December 1975 Notes

December 2:
Open meetings (for prospective students) begin in the Bay Area
December 23:
Reminiscences of earlier Fellowship of Friends Christmases at The Farm. The holidays featured Robert's favorite Burt Bacharach music, and George Harrison's “My Sweet Lord.” Cows were decorated with tinsel garland and "Hostess" donuts were served with hot chocolate and "Constant Comment" tea.
December 24:
In the “Meissen Room” tonight, a potted dwarf sequoia stood on a table in the corner, draped in red velvet, strung with white lights and adorned with glass ornaments.
Robert shared our latest “gift” – a fine porcelain plate produced by KPM, with a beautiful painting of a young Russian princess on its face. We were all captivated by the exquisite workmanship and touching image.
December 25:
Keeping a holiday “tradition,” hot chocolate was served at the Lincoln Lodge during the afternoon. (Just like three years ago, only this time in Meissen teacups.)
December 30:
At the Bay Area Meeting, it was announced which members would be leaving for our new centers. Robert discussed the Fellowship's accomplishments in 1975. He also said his imminent crystallization would mean the end of friction for him, as it is no longer necessary.
Many members were leaving directly after the meeting for new centers in various parts of the U.S.
December 31:
“Stella’s Coffee Shop” (probably upstairs in the “American Room”. These impromptu gatherings of night-owls were often hilarious, and somewhat irreverent. It was a tradition carried on wherever Stella and Harold went.)

Wednesday, December 24, 1975

"Educating Essence"


 [ed. - This image and others from the Fellowship's lavish porcelain collection would appear in the August 1976 literary publication "Kairos II."]

Note attached from Internet Archive poster:
"This idealized image, and its accompanying caption 'noble child,' have a contradictory import: The Fellowship portrays an idealized 'noble' child while simultaneously maintaining an environment hostile to children."

Remembrance of a student:
I dined in the “Meissen Room” with Robert tonight. A potted dwarf sequoia stood on a table in the corner, draped in red velvet, the tree strung with white lights and adorned with glass ornaments.

Robert shared our latest “gift” – a fine porcelain plate produced by KPM, with a beautiful painting of a young Russian princess on its face. We were all captivated by the exquisite workmanship and touching image.

"if memory serves" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 13, 2007:
288/Veronicapoe [post number and blogger who posted the image on the Internet Archive]:
Wow, that image was deeply familiar to me. It’s been 22 years, but wasn’t that a painting on porcelain that hung in the Meissen room? I could be wrong about that, but seeing the image had a strong emotional effect on me. I’ll bet memory works differently in different people, but for some reason, this one took me back to the heightened atmosphere of that dining venue, with all its attendant anxieties, egos, desires, states, and expectations. Thanks for gathering and posting these.