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.

Monday, April 29, 1996

Troy Buzbee Lawsuit

Robert Earl Burton toasts the Fellowship's 25th anniversary

[ed. - From the Fellowship of Friends Discussion Blog and, earlier, on Greg Goodwin's "Arkansas Bob" Yahoo Group (Old link - Although this is the first lawsuit against Burton brought on behalf of a minor, it is not the first allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor. See Deidra Kennedy's comment on The Fellowship of Friends Investigation Petition. Troy Buzbee is also known as Troy Windsong.]
Fellowship Of Friends - A Cult In Oregon House, California"
Another lawsuit filed against F.O.F/Renaissance Vineyard &
Winery, Robert Burton, Girard Haven, Abraham Goldman, Helga
Ruth Mueller, and Clair Bowen–directors of Fellowship of
Friends, Inc. The lawsuit brought by Troy Buzbee and filed
on April 29, 1996 in the County of Yuba.

Complaint for Damages is in Case #060209

1. Fraud
2. Intentional infliction of emotional distress
3. Negligent infliction of emotional distress
4. Breach of fiduciary duty
5. Negligent supervision
6. Sexual misconduct with a minor
7. Sexual harassment
8. Wrongful discharge
9. Negligence
10. Failure to pay minimum wage
11. Battery

Fellowship of Friends Cult – By Michelle M. Milligan

“Within the pages of the case are facts and details concerning sexual
and perverted acts practiced by Burton, his philosophies and
ideologies expected of the members.”

According to the case, Robert Burton, “The Teacher”, as referred to
by members, began the corporation Fellowship of Friends in

The “Fourth Way" philosophy is taught and practiced by the Fellowship
of Friends.

The location of The Fellowship of Friends herein referred to as the
F.O.F. is in Oregon House, however the F.O.F. refers to their
location rather as “Renaissance”.

Troy Buzbee’s father became a member of the F.O.F. in 1976. Richard
Buzbee’s son Troy was only seven years of age. Richard Buzbee was
told that if he paid his teaching payments each month and followed
the tasks and suggestions of the teacher, Robert Burton that he would
enter “the way,” become “conscious” and “immortal.” He was told that
Burton was a “conscious being” and that he was “celibate.” He was
told that he could trust Burton completely with his body and soul.

From 1976 through May 1994 Troy’s father was a member of the
Fellowship of Friends.

As Plaintiff Troy Buzbee grew up he regarded Robert Burton as a God.
According to the case distinction between Burton and Troy’s father
were not clear to him at times. Troy Buzbee became a member on
October 10, 1966 when he was 17 years of age, virgin.

After Defendant Burton and Defendant corporation Fellowship of
Friends, Inc.’s factual representations and undue influence caused
Troy Buzbee to lose his ability to think independently, he became
increasingly subject to the domination, control and undue influence
practiced, implemented, and used by said Defendants. In direct
consequence of such deception, coercive persuasion, brainwashing and
undue influence, Defendant Burton used Troy Buzbee, among hundreds of
other young men, for the partial gratification of his satyriasis, an
uncontrollable compulsion to engage in sexual conduct with scores, if
not hundreds, of men. In addition thereof, Defendant Burton exploited
Troy Buzbee for the provision of cheap labor, well under the minimum
wage. Said exploitation continued off and on until the time when Troy
Buzbee terminated his membership with Fellowship of Friends, Inc., in
August 1994.

Commencing in December 1986, Burton, would have “teaching dinners”
during which he would ply Troy with alcoholic beverages. After one
particular such meal in December 1986, Burton instructed Troy to come
to Burton’s room and to shut and lock the door. Burton told Troy that
Burton was “an angel in a man’s body”, and the gods wished for Troy
to be close to Burton. Defendant Burton then held [Troy?] in an embrace.

Defendant Burton said, “influence C wishes you to be close with
me. “He repeatedly assured Troy that his “soul was not (his) body,
and that the angels wished for (Troy) to be with (Burton).” Burton
explicitly told Troy that the “angels” wanted Troy to disrobe, and
the “angels” wanted Troy to submit to Burton’s sexual advances
because Burton himself was an “angel”, a "goddess in a man’s body.”
Burton said to Troy, “I promise you I am an angel in a man’s
body.” “You have to remember that I did not write the play about
Robert Burton.” Burton would kiss Troy on the forehead which he said
represented the seat of the soul and then instruct Troy to “separate”
from his body and just “let go”. Burton reminded Troy that Troy’s
body would soon decay while his soul was immortal. Burton told Troy
that he would talk to him after he died using the same soft voice he
used at the time. Burton explained that for him the interaction with
Troy went beyond conventional sex and into “supersex”, which was a
method characterological evolution. Defendant Burton stated, “My
sexuality is on the level of Super-Sex.” From December ‘86–
April ‘94, Troy submitted to Burton’s demands, which were: Drop out
of college, provide Burton with sexual favors and provide hour long
massages after Burton had been sexually serviced.

Burton used money from the corporation to pay other members for
performing specific sexual acts. In denominations of $50 or $100. The
case mentions one case of “specific sexual acts” performed on Burton
by Karl Feldman, Troy Buzbee’s best friend. Burton spoke openly about
his sexuality in the form of jokes at the all-male dinners that he
would often lavishly host at all-male, all-you-can-
drink “symposiums.” He would boast that “one hundred boys would not
be enough (for his sexual appetite).” Troy worked at the gatehouse on
F.O.F. property. Burton directed certain members who are “guards” to
arm themselves with firearm-type weapons. Burton then had him become
his “personal” guard. During the next four years Troy observed
numerous men in Burton’s room in a single night. Troy was asked to
massage Burton after his lovers left.

According to the case, Burton suffers from sexually transmitted
diseases. He made no effort to tell Troy. As a consequence, Troy
acquired viral herpes. In addition, Troy suffered from stomach
ulcers. Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, Inc. was built as a bomb-
shelter in obeisance to Defendant Burton’s prophecies regarding
massive and wide-spread disaster and chaos in the near future.
Defendant Burton uses Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, Inc. as his alter
ego in the same way he uses Defendant Fellowship of Friends, Inc.
According to the case…..

At all times mentioned herein Defendants Girard Haven, Abraham
Goldman (also an attorney), Helga Ruth Mueller, and Clair Bowen were
members of the board of directors of the Defendant corporation,
Fellowship of Friends, Inc.

At all times mentioned herein all of the Defendants were acting as
the agents and servants of each other and in doing the acts
complained of acted within the scope of their agency and employment
and at the direction and with the knowledge and ratification of the
other Defendants.

The Defendant Burton at all times mentioned herein, dominated,
influenced, and controlled, and does now dominate, influence and
control the Defendant corporations and the directors and officers
thereof, as well as the business, property and affairs of the
Defendant corporations.

At all times mentioned herein, there existed and does now exist, a
unity of interest and ownership between the Defendant Burton and the
Defendant corporations; the individuality and separateness of said
Defendant and Defendant corporations has ceased; and despite
knowledge of these facts, Defendant corporations and its officers and
directors have had notice of, acquiesced in, and agreed, consented to,
and ratified the conduct of Defendant Burton as herein alleged, At
all times since its corporation to the present time, the Defendant
corporations have been and are now a mere shell and naked framework
which the Defendant Burton has used and does now use as a conduit for
the conduct of his personal business, property and affairs.

Defendant corporations are subject to a unity of control, and its
corporate structure was created as an attempt to avoid payment of
taxes and civil judgments and to confuse courts and those seeking
redress for these Defendant’s acts. Due to the unity of personnel,
commingling of assets, and commonality of business objectives, these
Defendant’s attempts at separation of Defendant corporations and
Defendant Burton should be disregarded.

Defendant Robert Burton directs, controls and operates Defendant
corporations and uses them to enforce his orders and carry out his
attacks on groups, agencies or individuals, including the acts
against Troy alleged herein, to the extent there is no separate
identity between Burton and said Defendant corporations and any claim
of such separate identity should be disregarded.

The Defendant corporations were created and are being continued and
maintained pursuant to a fraudulent plan, scheme and device, created
and operated by the Defendant Burton, whereby the benefits and
product of the income and revenue of the Defendant corporations are
diverted to the use and enjoyment of the Defendant Burton through the
Defendant corporations to himself while concealing the truth of his
financial relationship with Defendant corporations.

Prior to the formation of F.O.F. and Renaissance Vineyard & Winery,
Burton formed a conspiracy in concert between the corporations for
the express purpose and intent of developing and implementing
a plan and scheme which would permit Burton and co-conspirators to:

a. use, abuse and exploit the fiduciary relationship between the
Defendant Burton and the Defendant corporation Fellowship of Friends,
Inc., on one hand and the members of and contributors to the
Defendant corporation Fellowship of Friends, Inc., on the other hand
for their own personal unlawful gain; and

b. to use, abuse and exploit the fiduciary relationship between the
Defendant Burton, as ‘founding minister’, and selective members of
the Defendant corporation Fellowship of Friends, Inc., for the
express purpose and intent of performing unlawful and perverted
sexual acts upon the persons of said members, including Troy, and by
causing certain of the members, including Troy, to work for Defendant
corporation Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, Inc., and Defendant
corporation Fellowship of Friends, Inc.

That all times pertinent hereto, the Defendant corporation Fellowship
of Friends, Inc., and the Defendant Renaissance Vineyard and Winery,
Inc., were formed and operated by Burton and said other Defendants for
their sole and exclusive aggrandizement and to create an ambiance of
neo-religious import which was and is currently being used by Burton
and the other Defendants to manipulate, unduly influence, and control
the minds, bodies, and the assets of the members of the Defendant
corporations for the sole and exclusive purpose of 1) satisfying
Burton’s satyriasis-his voracious appetite for perverted sexual
pleasure and elegant life-style; and 2) diverting the contributions
and donations of the membership to their own use and purposes.

Members of the Fellowship are required to donate ever-increasing sums
of money as they become further and further vested as members of the
Fellowship with the caveat that when donations required of them are
not timely and completely made their membership is either revoked or
they become indentured servants of the Defendant corporation in
residence at its principal place of business for nominal compensation
and required to perform degrading menial tasks of a full-time basis
at the whim and caprice of the Defendant Burton and other authorized
representatives of the corporate Defendant Fellowship of Friends,
Inc., and Defendant Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, Inc. All
donations made by members of the Fellowship are devoted either to the
continuing worldwide recruitment of new and replacement members with
fresh money to contribute to “the cause,” or the acquisition of
assets, including but not limited to, Defendant Renaissance Vineyard
and Winery, Inc., which are ostensibly being acquired for the use and
benefit of the membership but which are in reality being acquired for
the personal benefit and aggrandizement of Defendant Burton and some
or all of the other individual Defendants named herein.

Meanwhile, Defendant Burton annexes free and unfettered use and
enjoyment in and to the assets of the Defendant corporation
Fellowship of Friends, Inc., Defendant corporation Renaissance
Vineyard and Winery, Inc., and the benefits to be derived there from,
including, but not limited to, the provision [of] money for bribes to
young male members to prostitute themselves in an intensification of
Defendant Burton’s compulsion and demand for sexual servicing of his
long-standing state of satyriasis.

The entire, purpose, scope and extent of the aforesaid plan and
scheme as implemented by said Defendants is to effectively deny the
members of the Defendant corporation Fellowship Of Friends,
Inc., not only the right to participate in its rituals and teachings
on an ongoing basis but also, and of equal importance, to deny
members of said Defendant corporation, including Plaintiff, of their
just right to participate as beneficiaries entitled to use and enjoy
the property of said Defendant corporation.

Troy suffered from fright, horror, grief, shame, anger, humiliation,
embarrassment, chagrin, disappointment, worry, self-loathing, self-
betrayal and self distrust.

Haven, Goldman, Mueller, Bowen knew of all these afore-mentioned
practices of Burton. They have agreed and abetted Burton in his
efforts. They knew of Burton’s diseases and said nothing.
At all times pertinent hereto, Defendant Burton, and the other
Defendants, caused Troy’s mental and emotional centers to become
deceptively and coercively inculcated with the following tenets:

a. Defendant Burton communicated with “C-influence” which was
provided by “44 angels” which were each individually named including,
but not limited to, Jesus, “Benjamin Franklin,” “Lincoln” and “Bach,”
and that Burton was the Fellowship’s only connection with
said “angels.”

b. Defendant was and is the most important person on the planet since
Christ. Defendant Burton claims a numerology of consciousness where
he has already advanced to a man number 7.3, with Christ being a man
number 8. Burton is above man-made laws, a moral law unto himself.

c. “C-influence” brought Troy to the Fellowship and Defendant Burton,
and that Troy’s interactions with Defendant Burton would be the most
important relationship that Troy could ever have.

d. Defendant Burton is assisted by “C-influence” to guide the
spiritual evolution of the member “students” with “shocks” designed
to help them “awaken”.

e. The members of the Fellowship are special, and set apart by higher
forces for survival. Members of Defendant Burton’s “inner circle”
must associate only among Fellowship members must disregard non-
members, and demonize ex-members who are critical of Burton whom “the
gods” will “destroy.” Such ex-members’ opportunities for growth and
development are terminated failing to submit to Burton.

f. Defendant Burton possesses gift of prophecy that is infallible.

g. In 1998 California will “fall” in [a] huge earthquake whereupon people
will die in massive numbers.

h. In 2006 there will be an Armageddon, where all humans everywhere
except for members of the Fellowship will be expunged by higher

i. Members of the Fellowship will inherit the world’s material goods
and act as the “Ark” for a new civilization based on that of the
Greeks of about 450 B.C., and are thus presently preparing themselves
to bear the torch of civilization now and in the future.

j. By following Defendant Burton’s directives so as to gain “being”
(depth of character) through separating from suffering and immersing
themselves in culture, mostly Western art, classical music, opera and
ballet, Fellowship members, including Troy, are preparing themselves
for being the “Ark”.

k. Everything the members of the Fellowship, including Troy, had
learned since birth was “false” and caused him to exist in a kind
of “waking sleep.” The Defendant Burton informed Troy that in order
to “awaken”, he had to replace what was “false” with what was “true”
which was defined as the system of ideas as The Fourth Way, including
all the “new” knowledge that Burton had added to that system.

l. Defendant Burton stated, and states, to the general Fellowship and
to Troy, that without “C-influence” Troy could not “awaken”.

m. Defendant Burton stated, and states, to the general Fellowship and
to Troy, that to “awaken” was the only way to avoid having the
purpose of his life be to provide “food for the moon.”

n. Defendant Burton stated, and states, that Troy’s people outside
the group as “life-people,” he said were “tragedies.” Burton said
Troy’s own mother was such a “life-person” and that the Fellowship
was Troy’s “real” family and Burton was his “Father.”

o. Defendant Burton stated, and states, to the general Fellowship and
to Troy, that any challenge to the extent of Burton’s excesses of
greed and satyriasis to be a lack of understanding of his practice
of “crazy wisdom” which he asserts that he must force himself to
perform is forcing himself to live that way for the good of the
members as a “lesson.”

Wish to read the rest and complete story, and even proof?

Send a self addressed long envelope, stamped to:

Of, By & For The People Newspaper
P.O. Box 1993
Marysville, California 95901

Thursday, April 4, 1996

Renaissance Vineyard and Winery featured in Chico News & Review

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

The Fellowship of Friends
An international Fourth Way school
An introduction
Worldwide centres
Press archive
Further reading
Press archive
Chico News & Review
Slowly but surely, Americans are learning to appreciate the finer pleasures in life. Take wine drinking, for example: It’s really only since the ’60s that the practice, in its more educated form, began permeating our culture. Nowadays, however, it’s no surprise to learn that your truck-driving neighbor has a favorite Riesling or Chardonnay. Winemaking’s even come to Butte County, for Pete’s sake! Perhaps, for the sake of your cultural education, it’s time to learn more about these nearby wineries.
Just up Highway 32, beyond Forest Ranch, you’ll find LaRocca Vineyards, a pleasant, family-run winery with a rustic tasting room. Further afield, but in a tremendously attractive setting, the Renaissance Winery offers a more grandiose experience. Here’s a look at these two enologists’ dreams, and a note about another homegrown wine.
It’s a 70-some mile drive through the valley and the lower foothills east of Marysville that brings you to the Renaissance Winery, but take our word for it - the journey is worth it. The vineyards for this specialty winery are extensive, and the view, over a sheltered valley that’s nestled in the Sierra foothills, is divine. With a reservation, you can have a tour of the grounds, which include a well-appointed rose garden, a massive - and still incomplete - winery building, a bright, cheery bistro, small gift shop and sumptuous wine-tasting room. The tasting room and bistro are open five days a week, and dinner is available on Saturday evenings.
Of course, we’re talking wine here, and the Renaissance Winery has plenty of that. It’s the only major label in the “North Yuba” wine region, and the largest mountain vineyard in North America. With a distinct set of flavors, nurtured in the region’s granite-based soil, the wines have become a favorite of international critics and won some prestigious prizes.
Finally, there’s a curious element to the site. Run by a group of spiritual explorers called the Fellowship of Friends, who promote the thinking of philosophers George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky and seek to surround themselves with art and aesthetically pleasing things, the winery is a working monument to that ethic.
“Wine symbolizes our art of living,” Renaissance says in one of its brochures. “Renaissance is a community of friends dedicated to realizing the highest standards of a noble, balanced and joyful culture.”
Certainly, there are many beautiful things to appreciate here: The winery hosts an art collection and a series of musical and performing arts shows, and on the day we visited, a rehearsal for a vocal performance of Mozart was taking place. Visitors are under no obligation to do anything more than enjoy the surroundings.
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Black swan
A black swan spotted at Renaissance Vineyard & Winery.
Photo by Sara Sipes.