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.")

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. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Thursday, October 29, 1992

Lord Rodney, anti-cult crusader

[ed. - Sourced via In the early 1980s Anne Rodney, daughter of Lord and Lady Rodney, joined the Fellowship of Friends. She would soon be married to Hugh Lusted, another Fellowship member. Lord Rodney became a member of the British Parliamentary All Party Committee on Cults, Cultists Anonymous, and later Chairman of Family Action information and Rescue (FAIR) in Great Britain. Eventually Lord Rodney arranged for his daughter to be abducted from the School and de-programmed by an experienced anti-cultist.]

The Guardian [Manchester (UK)]
29 Oct 1992

Lord Rodney, who has died aged 72, is best remembered for refusing to attend his daughter's wedding. In 1982, Anne Rodney married an activist from the bizarre sect, Fellowship of Friends, which believed the way to Heaven was through the appreciation of art - followers, mainly gathered from children of the rich, gave 10 per cent of their salary to the Fellowship to follow an aesetic [sic] aesthetic lifestyle. Lord and Lady Rodney disaproved [sic] of both the sect and son-in-law and went for lunch at the Lords instead. After this, John Rodney, the ninth Lord Rodney, actively campaigned against pseudo-religious cults and drug abuse.

Lord Rodney was a direct descendant of Jane Seymour (niece of, rather than the queen) and Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney who defeated the Spanish Fleet off St Vincent in 1780 and the French fleet in 1872 [sic] at the Battle of the Saints.

He himself was a keen sailor but poor eyes prevented him from joining the navy. During the second world war he served as a commando in Burma. Later on, he was a marketing director and a delegate to the Council of Europe and Western European Union.-S.H.

Copyright Guardian Newspapers, Limited

Obituary of Lord Rodney

The Daily Telegraph [London (UK)]
22 Oct 1992: 21

Abstract (summary)

Subsequently he worked with Rootes and the Portal group of companies. He set up the British Federation of Printing Machinery and Supplies and was chairman of the Printing Equipment Educational Trust. Rodney was a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron, and took part in the Bermuda Race. He enjoyed shooting and was a keen gardener. In Who's Who he listed world travel among his interests, adding "not all recreation". It was typical of [John Francis Rodney]'s concern for others that while being nursed in the Royal Marsden Hospital he began working on schemes to help the hospital.

In 1968 Rodney was one of the few public figures prepared to be named in a battle against the escalating danger of cults. Cultivists Anonymous helped the parents of cult victims and formed a point of contact for those already within. Rodney campaigned vigorously because his own daughter had been a member of the "Fellowship of Friends" before he succeeded, with the skill of the Scarlet Pimpernel, in luring her home.

[ed. - Link to the following article, is defunct.]
Lord Rodney is Dead

From "FAIR News", London, Autumn 1992

Lord Rodney, the chairman of FAIR, the British cult education and referral organization, died in October.  According to the editor of the FAIR newsletter, Ursula MacKenzie, Lord Rodney took an especially keen interest in FAIR's work because he had first-hand experience of cult involvement in his own family, an involvement lasting several years, which helped him to identify with concerned parents: "He certainly knew about the devastating effects of the problem," Ms. MacKenzie writes.

"The House of Lords," she goes on, "offered chances to bring the cult issue to the forefront of public attention. Lord Rodney made use of this again and again. The most recent debate he called (February 1988) gave FAIR the opportunity to provide Peers with briefing material proof to the event. Lord Rodney was intrigued and got in touch. Closer contact was established after the debate, and in the autumn of the same year he agreed to become chairman of FAIR.

"We could not have had a better champion for our cause. Far from being merely a figurehead, he took a keen active interest. For example, he never stopped tackling parliamentarians on our behalf, including the Prime Minister. He set up a parliamentary group on cults, made up of MPs and Peers, and spread the message in the Council of Europe to which he was a delegate. One of his great concerns was also to create better understanding between like-minded cult monitoring groups. . . Our deep sympathy and good wishes go to Lady Rodney and the whole family. "

Lord Rodney writing in FAIR News, Autumn 1990:
The majority of us here this afternoon have come because of our concern about cults. This concern in most cases stems from our personal experience...I believe by and large this concern is unselfish and motivated by a desire that others may be spared the trauma we have experienced. Some accuse us of being oversentimental and overreacting; maybe some of us are, but with good reason: It is hard to stay calm and collected when you see your family being split asunder.

There are those - mostly academics - who set out to examine these cults in a cool and logical way: What motivates people to join them? Are they free agents? How long does the average member remain in a cult? and so forth. I have nothing against this approach, but I do not think those adopting it can quantify the human suffering involved. I do not wish ill to anyone, but let them have a loved one duped into joining a cult, and I wonder how detached they would remain. The other objection I have it that their association with these cults helps the groups in their search for credibility. Otherwise why are they welcomed at their meetings and featured in the newsletters! Ladies and gentlemen, I believe in the end you either consider the activities of cults antisocial, deceptive, and destructive of family life - or you don't. I do not think we can sit on the fence.

Additional address to the House of Lords, February 10, 1988.

Friday, October 9, 1992

Renaissance Vine

[ed. - Some examples of the official Fellowship of Friends newsletter. The July 1984 issue describes progress on the Fellowship's "Renaissance Winery", which 28 years later stands only partially-completed, a victim of declining financial resources and Robert Burton's ever-changing priorities. For a clearer view, try clicking on the documents to open in an image viewer.]

[ed. - And here are some samples of unofficial Fellowship of Friends newsletters, a parody by some very bad students.]

Wednesday, July 1, 1992

Leaving the prison

[ed. - See also The Thomas Easley Letters, Group got piece of mind, and this 1993 story from the Appeal-Democrat.

"jomopinata" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 6, 2013: 
(From an article by Jean Callahan, “Leaving the Ashram,” Common Boundary, July/August 1992, at pp. 36-37.)
“Jung called it enantiodromia, the tendency of a person who has held one point of view exclusively to swing to the opposite extreme. Those who have dedicated themselves to the spirit are particularly prone to it. Suddenly, seeing all that they have missed, some become just as cynical and materialistic as they had been devoted and transcendental. Having once worshiped the guru as God incarnate, they now feel the need to smash him as a false idol. This encounter with the shadow marks the experience of very nearly every former believer who has left an ashram. It happens almost automatically, as if a scale tipped too far to one side were now simply righting itself.

Thomas Easley knows about enantiodromia. In 1989, as part of the inner circle, he left the Fellowship of Friends, an obscure California-based group loosely based on the philosophical teachings of the Sufi mystics G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky. For years, Easley was hopelessly dependent upon the group’s leader, Robert Burton, who was for him the model of all spiritual growth and personal development. ‘He made all the decisions for me,’ says Easley, ‘from what tie to wear to what car to drive, from what to eat to how to go to the bathroom.’ As long as he remained with the Fellowship of Friends, Easley handed over all the money he made selling paintings–to galleries, museums and wealthy European families–to Burton. In return, he claims, Burton seduced him into a sexual relationship when he was in his early 20s. ‘I don’t trust anyone.’ Easley says now. ‘When you find out that the man who was supposed to be the second coming of Christ is actually a sexual abuser, whom do you trust after that?’ Easley was actually thrown out of the group for making his accusations. After spending some time in India, he returned to the United States, where he lived quietly for a year and a half before escaping to India again. He felt out of rhythm in the U.S., too naive to function in the New York art scene, where he was trying to establish credibility.

‘I’m like a man who’s been released from a prison camp,’ he says. ‘How can you relate to people when you can’t even tell them what you’ve been doing for the past 20 years?’”