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 from 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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Promoting a revolution

"Rabbi Burns" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 6, 2007:
There’s a strand in this discussion that popped its head up a while ago but was not pursued: why don’t current FOF students take matters into their own hands and try to improve things?

Some background would be useful:

The FOF is a religious charity, and so donations are not subject to tax. This tax status has the corollary that donations cannot be used to benefit individual members. Robert Burton as the head teacher is entitled to a reasonable income but no more.

The FOF has a Board (legal matters), a Council (spiritual matters) and a President (day to day running). Currently everyone in these bodies is 100% subservient to Robert Burton. His statements and wishes cannot be questioned.

The result is that this religious charity is run as Burton’s own personal fief. A very large percentage of donations goes to his travelling, buying gifts for the boys etc.

So here is a rather wild fantasy, but a wonderful one:

The current members of the Board and Council and the President resign.

Democratic elections are held to choose their replacements.

The new officers decide to make the FOF both legally compliant and more open spiritually:

1. They tell Burton that his sexual abuse of students must stop and they make sure that it does.

2. Religious visas are currently primarily awarded to students with whom Burton wants to have sex. The INS requires that they are actually awarded to students from abroad who will be trained as “ministers” of the school. The former would stop; the latter would start.

3. Students “on salary” would be paid the legal minimum wage, rather than the much reduced amount they currently receive.

4. The school would continue to be a center for the teaching of Burton’s spiritual message, but other teachers would be invited too, to give a more balanced picture. Isis could become a real center for spiritual learning.

5. The income of the school would be used primarily to promote spiritual teaching rather than to support Burton’s peculiar personal habits.

Of course this seems improbable in the current repressive environment, but isn’t it likely that the only alternative is a continuation into more extreme insanity and eventual implosion, like Rajneesh’s school?

How to start? Maybe if a large group of students refused to pay the $775 spring donation we would see some results?

Yours hopefully, probably naively,


"SAM.1" (still a member) wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 3, 2007:
Things are really heating up in Oregon House.

Someone is sending out CD’s of Adyashanti meetings to FoF members through the local post office.

Others are sending a link to this Blog to all FoF members with e-mail addresses.

The FoF council is sending out warnings to the membership.

Please be careful, the tension is getting very thick.

No doubt this list is being closely monitored by FoF management.

I’m surprised so many have thought to leave at this time of upheaval. Is there no alternative?

This is, in fact, our school. We have built and paid for it. Someone told me today that this is Robert’s school. Let me ask you, members, who’s school is it?

For the good of the members, the President and Vice-President of the FoF are asked to
resign immediately. The FoF Council are asked to resign immediately. It is under their watch that such secrecy, depravity and unconscious behavior have been permitted by our spiritual leader and his circle.

The student body will meet directly with Robert. Let him, explain clearly his position and where he plans to go, answer the hard questions. Let him choose to lead this community, openly, honestly, or walk away. We have come a long way, don’t think this is the end. It is but a new beginning.

Shall we meet fate head-on? We must.

"Wondering who's watching" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 11, 2007:
Hello friends. As a former current member of FOF (figure that one out) for 30+ years and singed by the flames of the inner circle, I have been on both sides now.

As my true witness can say: Much of what has been said here is the truth and need not be criticized, edited, defended or denied – it is!

My brief comment is: It was only a matter of time until such a venue would appear since the Fellowship Council expunged the discussion list that it privately provided to the members for the discussion of the Work. No such quality of truth as you see here would have been allowed by that moderated list.

As William Shakespeare said in his character Hamlet: Foul deeds shall rise though all the world o’erwhelm them to men’s eyes.

[Hey, that would make a good angle for a meeting, if only it could be given.]

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