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 an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will 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 on official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, 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, December 23, 1978

Alex Horn's "Strange School"

[ed. - Robert Earl Burton learned the guru business from Alex Horn, founder of The Everyman Theater and the Theatre of All Possibilities. Brutal beatings aside, much of Horn's "esoteric teaching and practices" would be incorporated into Burton's "Fellowship of Friends", a new path he called "a school of love".]

"Real-Life Drama in S.F. Theater Group" , San Francisco Chronicle, December 23, 1978
A strange San Francisco drama group has just closed its theater and its school at a time when some of its frightened ex-members have complained they were subject to a program of brainwashing and violence combined with the principles of two arcane Russian mystics.

The offbeat group is called the Theatre of All Possibilities, and until it closed - ostensibly for the
holidays - it had staged its shows and operated its after hours self improvement school at 150 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco.
 [Read more at]

San Francisco Progress articles on Alex Horn and the Theatre of All Possibilities (formerly The Everyman Theater):
"Theater group, cult or stage?"

What is the Theater of All Possibilities?

Allegations have been made by onetime members of the Theater of All Possibilities which suggest that the theater group has cult characteristics using psychological humiliation and corporal punishment to keep members in line.

According to taped statements from several individuals who have asked that their identities be kept confidential, the theater is really an Ouspensky-Gurdjieff grounded commune where followers are expected to adhere to the dictates of teacher leaders, Alex Horn and his wife, Sharon Gans-Horn.

Since the Horns and the theater attorney have refused requests for a meeting, there is no way of either proving or disproving the following allegations:

• Theater members allegedly are required to pay tuitions of $200 a month to the Horns. Such payments are made in cash with no receipts issued.

• Members are allegedly assigned ticket-selling quotas, and those who fail to meet them are administered corporal punishment, ostensibly to promote their growth and development.

• Teachers allegedly issue directives concerning marriage and child birth and those who do not marry or produce a child within the given time limit are ordered out of the movement.

• Unquestioning loyalty to the teachers and total dependence on their leadership allegedly is fostered by
psychological humiliation and other brainwashing techniques.

It has also been alleged that at least one, and possibly as many as three, commune-type ranches are connected with the Theater of All Possibilities, and that the questionable activities involved in the “growth process” are accelerated at these locations.
[Read more at]

Articles in The San Francisco Progress series:

"Theater group, cult or stage?", The San Francisco Progress, December 22, 1978
"'Theater of All Possibilities' deserves a second look", The San Francisco Progress, January 10, 1979
"Closer Look at the Theater", The San Francisco Progress, January 12, 1979
"Horn's followers at the 'Theater'", The San Francsico Progress, January 14, 1979
"What are the answers to cultism?", The San Francisco Progress, February 25, 1979

[ed. - Curiously, it was during the same era that another theater company emerged, this one on the East Coast. It too professed to be following in the Fourth Way tradition, with similar results. A former member wrote the following. Visit Upper Lobby's blog.]

"Upper Lobby" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 3, 2014:
Hi fellow travelers and Happy New Year. Although I have heard of the FoF group and Burton over the years I have never had an interest in contacting anyone. A good friend linked me to your sight and I hope it is alright to comment here.

What fascinates me is the similarity between various faux 4th Way Gurdjieff groups. My own group, well, not mine, but the group I was involved with for almost 15 years existed in the Boston area. We all thought we were very connected with the Gurdjieff Foundation. We had been invited to visit Michel DeSalzmann in Europe on a number of occasions and he visited us. Turned out that by the mid-80’s he had vowed never to have anything to do with us ever again. If we only knew.

Considering that our “leader” was a homosexual predator, abusive and manipulative into most of the family relationships and we had ourselves the perfect 4th Way Group Storm!

I’m curious what charges may have been filed against Burton and on what grounds? Was there anything successful? There is a blog that outlines many of the abuses of our own little Gurdjieff group that has been around for about two years. We were a theatre group that performed the Le Grand David Magic Company.

At any rate, I hope it’s ok to comment here. I don’t want to crash your party but it’s nice to know there are other survivors who are seeking to make sense of all the non-sense. Peace.

Upper Lobby

No comments:

Post a Comment