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.

Thursday, April 30, 1981

Gurdjieff/Ouspensky Followers Controversial

[ed. - From ICSA website ( webpage is no longer functional]
A community called Renaissance, headquarters for Fellowship of Friends, a monastic group of well-educated men and women devoted to the teachings of two Russian spiritualists of the early 20th century, Georges Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky, has recently become an object of much controversy.

The group, which is located in Yuba County, California, is led by 42-year-old Robert Burton, known as “The Teacher” and revered for his self-control and ability to explain and understand the two philosophers as well as to teach others that life can be enhanced through worship of beauty and materialism. [ed. - It should be noted that, by all accounts, Burton has little familiarity with Gurdjieff's work, save what has been passed along by Ouspensky.]

According to the San Francisco Chronicle (March 20), a few ex-members and parents of members have become concerned with the way followers are treated.

One ex-member, Randall Moffett, says “The trouble with the Fellowship, is that they take advantage of people’s imagination.

"The people who are into it now are so hypnotized. This is a very sophisticated operation.”

An anonymous parent expressed his concern this way: “It’s the kind of discipline that blocks out any kind of thought,” he said. “It’s so far detached from reality—it’s not like you and I know life to be—and I don’t believe those kids are there of their own free will.”

The community owns more than $1 million worth of European paintings, Meissen china, Baccarat crystal and Wedgewood plates. Its income is nearly 4 million tax-exempt dollars per year. James Trattner, a 41-year-old psychologist who spent 4 years in the Fellowship of Friends, told the Chronicle that members have no money of their own and in that sense are prisoners, working up to 17 or 18 hours a day.

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