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, 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 from 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, October 31, 1995

October 1995 Census

[ed. - An October 1995 roster of Fellowship of Friends members lists 1,756 active members and 5,212 inactive (former) members. The roster, however, is not a complete accounting of membership since the Fellowship's 1970 founding. Instead, its starting point is the membership as of Winter 1977-78 (likely when the roster was first loaded onto the Fellowship's new computer system.) With a few exceptions, it omits all those "inactive members" who left the Fellowship in the first seven years. 

The December 1977 "Renaissance Vine" reported a then-current membership of 1,055, so the Fellowship has had a net gain of about 700 in the intervening 18 years. (By 2005, the population would grow to about 2,200 before beginning to decline. In October 2016, the Fellowship will number just 1,565 members. This despite, or perhaps because of, the advent of the internet.)]

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