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.

Friday, January 1, 1982

"Dilemma Letter"

[ed. - The "dilemma" being addressed by this group of prominent Fellowship of Friends members is that of Robert Burton's preying upon heterosexual male followers for his personal sexual gratification. This despite Burton's repeated assertions that he is celibate, and in contradiction to the strict guidelines he has imposed governing  membership sexual relationships.]

From Internet Archive:
January 1982

Dear Robert, 

For a long time we have felt the need to discuss with other sincere 
students the dilemma which our teacher is faced with, concerning 
his private life and consequently some of our own dilemmas stemming 
from this situation and from our lack of knowing how to handle them. 

November 29, 1981 at the Po_eroy House with a group of friends 
gathered together seemed an ideal time to open up the subject 
since it had become obvious that it was no longer a secret and 
also that several wonderful students were seriously considering 
leaving the school because of the inner conflicts generated. 

A sincere in-depth discussion ensued and the following is a summary 
of the feelings expressed by those present: 

It was felt we could accept the idea that a teacher has a right 
to his own private life as long as his actions do not negatively 
affect the lives of others. (Walt Whitman, Leonardo Da Vinci 
and others did not lead a school). 

This situation within a school would not appear to be a sound 
note in the octave of developing a new civilization. 

It is difficult to understand how these actions strengthen the 
whole or are right for the whole, even though on some level they
may be right for the part. 

It places people both presenting and representing the system in 
an awkward position in all areas including that of guiding children. 

We all have too much invested in ourselves, each other and the 
school. This could also place the whole and/or the part in jeopardy 
relative to our income producing capabilities in life. 

The credibility gap created when a teacher does not live his life 
according to the rules he sets down creates a gnawing situation 
for students, making it sometimes impossible for them to feel 
the school is real and to be willing to devote their full energies
to it. 

We do not like to think of leaving the school as the only alternative. 
It is our school and we are concerned about it's future. Work
in this area may be connected to the teacher's work in furthering 
his evolution and we have a role to play in that.

It seems important not to call a weakness anything but a weakness. 
It is the first step in being able to either give or receive help. 

The teacher said that the school would become whatever the students 
make it. This seems to put the responsibility especially on older 
members to bring to light whatever their conscience cannot accept -- 
a part of the principle of being true to oneself. 

It seems the proper course would be to deal with this potentially 
troublesome situation from the "inside" which would reduce our 
vulnerability to damage from life.

A strong positive feeling of the phenomenal accomplishments of 
this school and our own development under our teacher's guidance
is prevalent among us and we would not wish to allow it to weaken 
through fear of making efforts toward possible solutions to the 
present problem.

The teacher may not be aware how few students actually know 
about this area and also the amount of denying force it presents 
even to older students. 

We ask you, Robert, to consider finding new ways to modify this

In our deepest friendship and affection, this letter has been
endorsed by the following students: 

D_n B_rrell 
Do_is B_rrell 
L_ynn Po_eroy 
Ca_olee Po_eroy 

Ro_er F_tzgerald (Ca_anna) 
Pa_ela F_tzgerald (Ca_anna) 
Ric_ard An_erson 
Ro_ert E_an 

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