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.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Thirty-day term for triple fatal

[ed. - This accident involved a Fellowship of Friends member on a business trip for Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, Inc.]

From the Appeal-Democrat
July 19, 2006 09:00:00 AM

An Oregon House man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail in connection with a November 2004 truck cash that left three Yuba City residents dead.

Daniel A. Highland pleaded no contest in Sutter County Superior Court to three misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges in the deaths of Kamla D. Lally, Balwinder Kaur and Balwinder Singh.

Judge Robert Damron accepted a plea agreement between Highland's attorneys and prosecutors and ruled that Highland, 55, acted without malice or gross negligence.

Highland will be able to serve his jail time on work release, then will be on summary probation for three years, Damron ruled.

Highland lost control of a Renaissance Vineyard & Winery truck on Highway 113 in south Sutter County. In the multi-vehicle collision that followed, the victims' car was struck by a Humvee that was following the truck. All the victims died instantly.

Abraham Goldman, one of Highland's attorneys, said Highland swerved onto the right shoulder to avoid a head-on collision with a vehicle approaching in the wrong lane, then lost control of the truck and entered the opposite lane.

Instead of wine, the truck was carrying five tons of concrete curbing, which would have crushed Highland if he had slammed on the brakes, said Goldman.

Assistant District Attorney Fred Schroeder said it is “certainly possible” that Highland swerved to avoid the approaching vehicle.

“We don't know why it happened, but we don't see gross negligence,” said Schroeder. “But it was wrong, and there needs to be some sanction.”

“It could happen to anyone who drives,” he said.

Two lawsuits and one claim brought by the families of Lally, Kaur and Singh have been resolved, said Goldman, who declined to discuss the terms.

Two of the families thought it was pointless to send Highland to jail. The third wanted maximum jail time, said Schroeder.

“I regret the whole thing. It was tragic,” Highland said in an interview.

Highland attorney David Springfield said the Fellowship of Friends, the Oregon House organization that owns the Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, has done “whatever it can to fill the cups of justice” for families of the victims.

No family members of the victims attended the plea hearing and sentencing, which was scheduled on short notice. Highland had been scheduled for a Sept. 12 jury trial.

Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young can be reached at 749-4710. You may e-mail him at