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.

Wednesday, February 28, 1996

Creative marketing

"It was never RVW’s business plan to make a profit." - Greg Holman, President, Renaissance Vineyard and Winery

The Fellowship is known throughout the wine industry for its attempts to barter. Wine is offered in trade for virtually anything that is needed. Most summarily dismiss such proposals as ill-conceived, if not downright illegal.

The St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco features Renaissance wines, but they are being sold on consignment, a violation of Federal and state law!

Perhaps what Holman meant to say is that RVW never intended to show a profit.

Thursday, February 1, 1996

Fellowship of Friends featured in Elle Magazine

[ed. - This is an Internet Archive capture of the Fellowship webpage.]

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ELLE Magazine 1996
Yuba County, CA, is better known for rattlesnakes and lousy coffee than for wine and spirituality. But the Renaissance Winery and its surrounding community are working to change that. The vineyard has come a long way since its meager first harvest in 1978. (The crop was so small it took only ten minutes to pick.) And the Fellowship of Friends, as the winery’s organization is known, has started to draw crowds. The group’s members (2,000 worldwide) follow the teachings of mystics George Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky and believe that the challenge of life is spiritual evolution. At Renaissance that purpose seems clear: The Friends have developed an orchestra, a dance company, a rare-book bindery, and the most manicured rose garden this side of Versailles. Some help out in the winery, which has produced an award-winning Cabernet and a rich, honeyed Riesling, others simply come to soak up the intellectual fare. Nonmembers don’t have to buy into the philosophy, but they are welcome to stop in for a performance, a meal at the bistro, or just to find out how Renaissance is redefining the term “wine and spirits.” Alice Feiring


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