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 most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

But 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.

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 from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated 2007) Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia page, 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, July 29, 1988

Suit against Yuba sect leader settled

The Sacramento Bee
Published on July 29, 1988, Page B3

A lawsuit that charged the leader of a Yuba County sect with seducing young men into a life of "degenerative sexual involvement'' has been settled out of court, parties on both sides said Thursday.

Samuel L. Sanders said an agreement was filed early this week that ended his four-year suit against the Fellowship of Friends, located in Oregon House, a town about 20 miles northeast of Marysville.

Sanders' $2.5 million lawsuit charged in 1984 that the fellowship was run for Robert Burton, its spiritual leader, as a "cult-like organization to psychologically hypnotize" young men to "satisfy his voracious appetite for sexual perversion."

Sanders, a former member of the fellowship's board of directors, said he could not comment on a dollar amount, if any, of the settlement because both parties agreed not to disclose terms. "Let me just say I was very happy with the settlement, and there were certain objectives that I accomplished," said Sanders in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

Fellowship president Girard Haven said that by having "agreed to them (settlement terms), you can assume we are satisfied by them."

The fellowship, founded in 1971 [sic], is located in the foothills of Yuba County on 1,300 acres of land. Haven said there are 1,500 members worldwide, with about 300 at Oregon House at any one time. The group's members follow the teachings of turn-of-the-century Russian philosophers George I. Gurdjieff and Peter D. Ouspensky.

Burton has predicted Armageddon. His followers view their retreat as an "ark" of culture with 44 gods who will protect them in a nuclear holocaust, ex-members have said in previous interviews.

Burton has called himself a "god" and an "angel," according to the lawsuit and former members. He feels members are a chosen race superior to ordinary people.

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