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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2001

"About Cults: Fellowship of Friends"

[ed. - Warning posted on the website "Disinformation". The link below leads to a webcache of Stella's old Geocities website.]

About Cults: Fellowship of Friend
The 'Fellowship of Friends' (Renaissance), founded by self-styled 'Fourth Way' teacher Robert Earl Burton is one of the most controversial contemporary groups. Burton never studied directly with Gurdjieff or Ouspensky (he did study with Alex Horn), and is not recognised by the Gurdjieff Foundation as a legitimate heir, but has promoted himself as a self-proclaimed 'Teacher' who became notorious when his Edgar Cayce-like prophecy of California falling into the sea due on April 11th 1988 failed to occur (he also claimed to be founding a 'New Civilization' that would survive an Armageddon). The FOF promotes itself by leaving 'Gurdjieff/Ouspensky' Centres bookmarks in stores, despite several disputes with publishers and authors. This site by Stella and Harold Wirk (who met Burton in July 1970 and studied with the FOF until 1982) describes how this esoteric school began to turn into a cult within three years, the group dynamics and 'authoritarian power god' processes underlying this transformation (the school forgets its original aim and exists only to survive/propagate itself), and the inevitably decline that followed. Exercises designed to increase awareness of neuro-physiological, social, and individual limitations became extremely regimented (see the Wirk-Sheet and famous Hell Letter). This site contains letters, e-mail, and distinctive portraits. An important reminder that the Gurdjieff Work does not have obedience, faith, or blind belief!

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