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 an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, Burton and his followers, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including Burton's divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) 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.

Tuesday, June 19, 1984

Samuel L. Sanders Lawsuit summary

[ed. - See also Samuel Sanders Letter and Suit Against Yuba Sect Leader Settled.]
On June 6, 1984, Case Number 36937 was filed in Superior Court of California, County of Yuba, by Samuel L. Sanders, Plaintiff, versus Defendants: Fellowship of Friends, Inc., a corporation; Robert Burton; Miles Barth; Frank Annis; Gerard Haven; Helga Ruth Mueller; Abraham Goldman; Charles Frank; Charles Randall; Clair Bowen; and Does 1 through 50, inclusive.

The Lawsuit Complaints:

1. Fraud

2. Conspiracy to defraud

3. Breach of fiduciary duty

4. Conspiracy to breach fiduciary duty

5. Injunction

6. Damages

[ed. - From the ICSA website, link no longer functional.]
Fellowship of Friends

Rabbit Creek (California) Journal

June 19, 1984

Samuel L. Sanders, a former member of the Fellowship of Friends, led by onetime elementary school teacher Robert Burton and based in part on the teachings of Russian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff and his student P.D. Ouspensky, has brought suit for $2.75 million against Burton, 8 other named defendants, and 50 John Does for crimes ranging from fraud to sexual perversion.

The complaint, filed June 6 in Yuba County Superior Court of California, charges that Burton and the Fellowship’s board of directors conspired to funnel money out of the Fellowship for their own enrichment. It also alleges that Burton used mind control to bring the membership under complete submission to his will, that he sodomized young male members, sometimes by force, resulting in “serious and in some cases irreparable mental and physical damage,” and that the board of directors adopted a resolution endorsing his behavior. An injunction prohibiting Burton from engaging in “perverted sexual conduct” without informing partners that such activity is not part of the Fellowship’s “Fourth Way” philosophy is also sought.

Fellowship of Friends, which claims 1,500 members worldwide, is headquartered at the 1,000 acre Renaissance complex, which includes a winery and an art collection valued at $1 million, located in Oregon House, California. Mr. Burton and the other defendants denied the charges brought in the suit and said they would “stand on the reputation they have built with the community.”

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