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.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Steve Anderson's story: The Second Coming myth is born

"Steve Anderson" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 13, 2007:
Signs of the Second Coming

I moved to the property, then called Mt. Carmel Monastery, in late fall 1975. My primary reason for moving there was to determine, if I could, the validity of the school and the teacher of the school. Admittedly, I was as about as dumb and naïve as the rest of the membership but I had high hopes of finding truth. If I were to immerse myself in the 3 lines of work, as my center directors said I must, then maybe my questions and doubts would be answered.

November nights in the foothills of the Sierras are cold. Living in my VW van in the parking lot presented a myriad of challenges, not the least of which was staying warm through the night. There was always the option of staying in the Lincoln Lodge on the floor, which had its own peculiar downside, especially on weekends when hordes of the faithful would arrive for the curious forms of self-flagellation that we all went through. I think we called it voluntary suffering. I could probably think of other names for it now.

Living like this for 6 weeks was tolerable and at least I had a safe refuge for independent quiet time that many others did not have. And I could always get in my humble mobile home and drive off the property any time the wish should arise.

Since I was not on salary I was able to be a little bit of a free floater and eventually landed the chore of being the kitchen shopper. This made sense since I had the van and knew food having worked in the restaurant industry for 6 or 8 years.

Then seemingly out of nowhere I was invited to share a house with Virginia Jenkins, Linda K (now T) and Mark F who would come to be the closest essence friend of my adult life. And of course little 4 year old Eli who would become the poster child for why children were not allowed on the property. (Most mornings Eli would ride his big wheel down our hallway, crash into the wall, all the while screaming “it’s wake up time, it’s wake up time”) Mark was from the Hawaii center and was part of the James Trattner entourage of Beelzebubian named “I am not identified with my name” scruffians that arrived en masse about the same time that I did. If anyone knows the whereabouts of my friend Mark, please let me know.

Anyway, I willingly and naively accepted the invitation to move into the house with the above mentioned people. I had known Linda from her time as tri-director of the Seattle center as some of us regularly traveled from Portland to Seattle and she came occasionally to Portland. As I had a car and was an unemployed semi free floater and Linda did not have a car and was on salary of some sort and also seemed to have loads of free time, I became for a while her designated driver of sorts. Virginia was also in the “driving Linda about here and there” business as well.

At this time, Linda was the editor of the Mt. Carmel Journal which was the weekly journal for the bay area meeting and spent much of her time rewriting said journal with the clear intention of making the thing more coherent and intelligible than the actual meetings were. A daunting but manageable task given the frequent inane and often absurd “angles” that the ever not so intellectually bright teacher spewed forth. I would, as many others would as well, often read those journals and wonder if Linda had even been at the same meetings as the rest of us, although I knew she was because I occasionally drove her to them.

These journals were then sent to the various centers to the anxiously awaiting flocks of grateful students. They were not expensive, $10 an issue I think, and even though the material between the covers was, well, almost useless drivel, they at least had pretty artwork on the cover and lovely quotes or poetry on the back.
So spending a fair amount of time hauling Linda around, she came to openly speak to me about her latest theories about Robert. She told me on one occasion that she had told Robert that he was the second coming of Christ. She had all of the appropriate biblical quotes to support her theory and had manufactured what was to her a plausible comparison between Christ and Robert. Oh puleeeze Linda give me a break. To his credit Robert, at that time, rebuffed her claims as nonsense. This of course did not deter Linda from pursuing this line of study. If nothing else, Linda was persistent. In due time the biblical quotes started to become more frequent at meetings and Robert seemed to take to the idea.

Sometime much later, after I had left the fof, there was an article in the Los Angeles Times around the Troy [Buzbee] incident where Robert was queried as to whether he was the second coming and he replied, “Thou sayest”. The transition was complete. I wonder if he would have come to this on his own without the research and prodding of Linda.

On a related note, following the death of Meher Baba, Robert said that the torch of consciousness was being passed to him. I never have figured out how that one worked.

Best to You All

"Ames Gilbert" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 11, 2007 at 8:31 p.m.:
To Correction (#11-490)[blogger, blog page and post number]

I believe your statement is too extreme. I wasn’t there for the Via Del Sol or Mount Carmel journals. But I was there for every issue of the Renaissance Journal. I moved to Renaissance in 1978. I went to all the meetings after the third or fourth issue. After about six issues, becoming suspicious, I started to make and compare notes about what was said and what was printed. I’d say that Linda certainly edited most of the angles (at least I saw her often reading proofs and correcting them in the press room. She did sometimes make some important changes, but generally stuck to the intent of the angle. But, as time went on, extra angles invented by her and Burton were inserted; some of them were clear plagiarisms. I guess unattributed ‘angles’ by classical writers added an air of nobility. Since many were from the 44, I suppose they gave their permission to their representative on earth?

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