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.

Tuesday, March 26, 1996

Online discussions thrive in the 90s

[Throughout the 90s, lively debates about Robert Burton and The Fellowship of Friends took place on forums hosted by Usenet, Geocities, and others. These forums attracted many ex-Fellowship of Friends members, including Stella Wirk, Joel Friedlander, "Grog W. Goldwing (not his real name)TM", James Harper, Duncan Shockley (aka Scott Duncan), Max Taylor, John Engel, and others. Layne Negrin was among a handful of current Fellowship members participating. Around 1996, Stella started her own news group. (She had maintained large "social networks" since leaving the Fellowship in the early 80s.)

Following Stella's death in December 2001, the online activity subsided, but in 2006 the Esoteric Sheik's blog would breathe new life into the online debates. Some of the archived discussions have been absorbed into Google and Yahoo Groups. Below are a few snippets from material still accessible.]

alt.consciousness.4th-way home page

James Harper, Max Taylor, Joel Friedlander on Usenet 1994

Stella on the Fall of California

References to RB

Stella can't believe someone is ahead of her...

"Grog W. Goldwing (not his real name)TM" defends the Fellowship???

James Harper and Stella look for another forum