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 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.

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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