Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Friday, May 1, 1981

Robert Burton responds to San Francisco Chronicle

[ed. - Apparently Robert Burton responded to the Chronicle's story with a Letter to the Editor, dated April 28, 1981. This was reported in the May 1981 "Renaissance Vine." It appears the Chronicle did not publish the letter. A review of their archives shows only the following related Letter to the Editor, transcribed in its entirety, published in the April 28, 1981 issue of the Chronicle. It is reported that Burton requested that Fellowship members not display photographs of their "life families" inside their residences. His effort to destroy family ties is one of Burton's most grievous crimes.]
Life in a Cult

Editor - My husband and I are extremely grateful to Michael Taylor for his article last week [April 20] on the cult known as the Fellowship of Friends, which for years worked our son 20 hours a day without holidays, paying him $50 a month. For the first year he was there he was forbidden to contact us and when he was married there we were not allowed to be present.

All expression of negative emotion was frowned upon, causing him eventually to sink into a deep depression which prevented him from working. Thank God this meant that he was no longer useful to cult leader Robert Burton and he was urged to leave.

It has been two years now and even after much intensive psychiatric care he is only beginning to re-learn simple communications skills. So much for the Gurdjieffians' allegedly higher consciousness.

NAME WITHHELD
[ed. - The following is a perspective from within the Fellowship of Friends at the time. The following was included in a letter to the author's family. The author's name is withheld.]
The Fellowship has been receiving a bit of attention lately after appearing in an article on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle recently. It seems that a few former members found that they could capitalize on suspicions that have been cast upon “cults” in the last two years or so. Now we find certain people and some of the media referring to us as a cult, and immediately there are the preconceived notions and the fears that are directed towards such groups. I think though that it will be the people who know us, the merchants, the local citizens that will prove to be our strongest support. As for the rest, they will imagine what they wish - there is not much we can do for that, except maybe try to explain our goals to those who are willing to listen.

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