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, May 23, 1980

C Influence punishes Raymond Kennedy for violating Robert Burton's exercise

[ed. - I believe part of the confusion expressed in the discussion below stems from the fact that a "no swimming exercise" was instituted in 1975, and in 1980, with Raymond's death, it was made a mandatory "task" for all Fellowship members. The Fellowship roster lists Raymond's status as "Released," rather than "Task Complete," customarily applied to those who have died while members in good standing.]

From Find A Grave:
Dr. Raymond B. Kennedy, Jr.
Birth: September 3, 1945, USA
Death: May 23, 1980, USA [ed. - Actually, Bali, Indonesia]
Burial: Rose Hill Cemetery, Fayetteville, Lincoln County, Tennessee, USA

[ed. - The Reverend Raymond B.  Kennedy, likely Raymond's father, is also buried there.]

"Jomo Piñata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 2, 2009:
260/Lauralupa When Raymond Kennedy drowned in 1980, a statement in the Renaissance Vine (a publication then distributed to the centers) implied that his death was punishment by higher forces for having disobeyed the “no swimming” exercise.

"sharon" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 2, 2009:
263 [above]… hmmm – I was always told that Kennedy’s drowning death was the reason behind the no-swimming exercise… it was a “sign from influence C”, and we would therefore not swim any more. That’s weird enough.

I could be wrong about the above, but.. let’s please try not to damage our credibility by the old telephone game – you know, mis-stating what we heard or mis-remembering just enough that it comes out garbled in the end.

"Jomo Piñata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 2, 2009:

I remember the sequence of events crisply. There was a no-swimming exercise extant when I joined. Shortly after I joined (weeks or months), the Vine reported Raymond Kennedy had drowned, stating something in the nature of, “This demonstrates that C influence wishes exercises to be taken seriously,” or “C influence may deal harshly with those who do not observe exercises.” Neither of these were exactly what was stated; the exact words I do not remember. The import of the words, however, I remember clearly.

"Mick Danger" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 2, 2009:

I heard that Raymond Kennedy was murdered for his jewelry while on vacation in the Philippines and dumped in the ocean.

Patricia S.’s suicide attempt was lightly regarded from “on high” and she was condemned for bungling it.

Take my advice, you’d be better off dead.

I suspect that fear is what keeps people in, not any sort of wonderfulness or chance of “creating a soul”.

"No Kid" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 2, 2009:
The version of the D.K. [sic] story I heard: While on a sex vacation in Bali, he disappeared. The following morning, his body washed up, stripped of the copious gold jewelry he always wore. An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was not drowning. Rather, a bamboo tube had been inserted into his throat and his lungs filled with sand. A traditional method, apparently, it is supposed to be very painful. Beach boys were considered the likely culprits. I do not know if this is true or not. Maybe, or maybe just a scare story for a little queer kid. Anyway, it is all very “Suddenly Last Summer.” N.K.

"brucelevy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discusaasion blog, March 2, 2009:
265. sharon [above] The no swimming thing was already in effect when Raymond died. RB didn’t want anyone to take time away from “building the school”. Some salaried people would run off for an hour or so to jump in the water nearby to let of steam from working days on end to finish “octaves”. And with the $180.00- $200.00 he was paying us per month, he felt he owned all our time (as well as our bodies). Like when he initiated the smoking exercise. All sorts of horse shit reasons were given, but the truth was someone had half-assedly calculated how much money people were spending in cigs per year and he saw that money should be coming to the school (him).

"brucelevy" wrote on the Fellowsdhip of Friends Discussion blog, March 2, 2009:

273. No Kid [above] I was at the “Ranch” before, when it happened, and after. This is the first time I ever heard that story.

"Wouldnt You Like To Know" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 3, 2009:

Regarding the subject of R. K. that has been discussed on this page. First let me say:

May God rest the soul of that fellow sojourner/pilgrim. We are all strangers in a strange land. And, may all those involved, and/or near and dear to that person, be at peace.

* * * * * *

No Kid said: ‘The version of the D.K. story I heard: While on a sex vacation in Bali, he. . .’

There was no D.K. in this story. There is another person who is often referred to as D.K. in the Fellowship of Friends. They had nothing to do with this incident of R. K.

The simple, unsensational, story is: During a time in FoF when there were exercises of:1) No sex outside the realm of the marriage vow. And, 2) No swimming. The above person supposedly went to a paradise location on planet earth (No Kid has right location) for an extramarital affair. (Other person to remain unnamed but not an FoF member at the time.) While swimming in the ocean at that location, they were pulled into the briny deep by an unusually strong undertow and drowned. Two serious exercises were violated. Other spins on the story, stated above, may or may not have validity. The point is not the specifics of the incident but, rather, how FoF spun it to its benefit.

This is how it was presented: Violation of these two exercises caused the death by sea (C) influence. As I remember it: Poseidon (Neptune. God of the Sea.) had, at the time, significant prominence in FoF (and still does). The statue of Poseidon was recently acquired; the one where Poseidon subdues lowly sea creatures with his trident. The incident was used to reinforce the seriousness of the Work that all were in in FoF.

As usual, and in hindsight, REB was diabolical and fear mongering. It was a tragedy.
Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays: Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays, And one by one back in the Closet lays.

- Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 8, 2013:
111. Opus111

When I read your post the smiling face of Rose Kennedy appeared in my mind after all these many long years. I remember her as kind and loving. Now she is in the other world lit by God’s presence, a place where the sickness found in Robert Burton doesn’t exist. Now she is free. In the seventies or early eighties Rose was married to Raymond Kennedy, a psychiatrist. Rose and Raymond planned a trip to Bali and Burton told Raymond not to go. They went anyway and Raymond drowned while swimming in the ocean. Burton said Raymond had been punished for disobeying him because whatever Burton said to do was the will of “C influence.” What incredible conceit and what incredible nonsense! I’ve been out of the FOF for decades but if I died today (instead of whenever, because we all die), and if Burton knew of my death he would say – “Just like I predicted, C influence punished him for leaving the teaching.” My friends, don’t be foolish and don’t be a fool. Real life is far away from the ravings of a madman, yet as close as one turn and one step.

"Jomo Pinata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 2, 2007:
[Quoting] 215/Critical Mass
When Adriana D died suddenly at the Mad Hatter, Robert commented that she had been dancing to jazz, “which we have been told not to do, so C Influence cut her down just like that.”
This is exactly like the claim that Raymond Kennedy’s death in 1980 was caused by his disobeying the swimming exercise. Deliberate fear induction to increase obedience.

Tuesday, May 20, 1980

[ed. - Place holder only. An article about the Fellowship of Friends reported by Jeff Ackerman appeared in the Yuba City Valley Herald.]

Thursday, May 1, 1980

May 1980 Notes

Fellowship of Friends cult Poseidon fountain at Apollo April 1980
Poseidon fountain (not yet functional) amid tulips, April 1980 (Photo: T. Campion)

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
Wine tanks are being constructed at the Renaissance metal shop, Shop 2

90 acres of grapevines were planted this past winter

Land clearing underway for Shop 3 (automotive shop)

No smoking allowed at Renaissance

Those who wear glasses should change to contact lenses (for a more beautiful appearance)

Ladies are not to wear pants

May 10 and 11: Madame Butterfly
May 24 through 26: American String Quartet
Photos: two views of the Poseidon statue with red tulips
1,382 members

Other Notes

May 21:
Robert Burton returns from Europe
May 29:
News received of Fellowship member Raymond Kennedy’s drowning . He was reportedly body surfing in Bali at the time. As a result, Robert Burton imposed upon members a new “task”: avoid swimming.
[ed. - Violation of a "task" involves more severe consequences than violation of an "exercise."]
May 31:
Shop 3 [automotive and antique restoration] dedicated. “Pantheon Industries” inaugurated, with Kenneth Wygal managing operations at Renaissance.