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, February 28, 1979

February 1979 Notes

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
Concerts:
Gerhard Puchelt, piano
Robin Sutherland and Roy Malan
Telluride Chamber Players
Diane Gilfether
Christiane Edinger, violin
January 13: William Serrao passed away, the second member to die in nine years.
1,221 members
[ed. - In the following excerpt from her Learn about CULTS page, Stella Wirk writes about how Robert Burton reacted to William's illness. As a point of fact, member Gary James died in an automobile accident on December 16, 1976. I assume he was the first member to die.] 
We harkened back to the memory of the first FOF death (not a suicide). This was Bill Serrao, in the 1970s, when he developed cancer of the pancreas. He lived near Sacramento, and we expected Robert to go see him. When Robert heard that Bill had cancer, he said, "Oh, he'll be all right." And it looked that way, as often pancreatic cancer patients seem to "rally" as if they are coming out of the difficulty.

This happened to Bill, and Robert never did go see him, although passing by frequently and close enough it would not have been THAT much trouble to stop by to see him.

He demonstrated his first lie, although we didn't even realize it at the time, being so "busy" with FOF activities, tasks, and other distractions. Over the years re-examining things like this, at a more advanced age at each examination, we discovered our subjectivity growing more mature and wishing we had done differently at an earlier age, and realized everything happened in the only way it could happen at the time.

Burton told us right from the beginning that he would be with his students when they were about to die. We did not interpret this to mean "in spirit" but in physical fact. He allowed us to think he meant he would hold our hands on the way out of this world.