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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Cult sex offender seeks to be paroled

James Vincent Randazzo
[ed. - It should be noted that the entire lineage of "schools" from Alex Horn to Robert Burton to James Vincent Randazzo ("Spiral of Friends") to Jim and Carolyn Kuziak (New American Wing) has been plagued with accusations of physical, psychological and sexual abuse, and other crimes. In addition to the articles cited on NAW Aware (below), an article titled "Sex with youths sends church on a downward spiral" appeared in the Arizona Republic newspaper, August 13, 1989. 2016 update: Randazzo is a Registered Sex Offender living in Phoenix, AZ.]

This is from NAW Aware:

James Vincent Randazzo was a student of Robert Burton in the early 1970s and perpetrated one of the legendary "Plays of Crime", that is, leaving Burton's teaching and taking other members with him. Some say he learned how to run a cult from his teacher.
"Randazzo had run away from the Fellowship of Friends (FOF), stealing ranch donations and other funds. The leader of the FOF, Robert Burton, then denounced him as a criminal. Randazzo had left behind a single pair of pants with a broken zipper, and Burton (always interpreting events as if they symbolized some higher truth) believed this was proof that Randazzo was 'damaged in that area' (i.e., he had sexual problems)."

"survivor" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 5, 2007:
Although I was not a member of the Fellowship of Friends I am a survivor of a very similar group, a ‘spin-off’ of the Fellowship, called the Spiral of Friends. This group was created by James Randazzo a former student of Robert Burton. As with the FOF the SOF was a cult that was disguised as a genuine Fourth Way School and I am writing today to encourage others that have had the strength to ‘graduate’ from these criminal groups and those that may be listening to their conscience and trying to leave.

In the case of the SOF Randazzo was brought to justice by the law, locked up in a federal prison for his crimes as a ‘teacher’ and the group has long been dissolved.

In the case of the FOF this has not occurred as yet but it will happen eventually, the signs of degeneration are very obvious now.

This blog has been an unexpected source of closure and healing energy for me even after 20 years since my experience of the SOF and I am now writing to send positive thoughts and energy to all those that can use it and to say thank you.
[ed. - Also see this account from Stella and Harold Wirk's publication, The Wirk Shop. (Link defunct)]