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.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

We might be moving to Oregon House... and

[ed. - This interesting exchange took place in a forum on the website. It's possible that the seemingly-sincere "dunloper" is an antagonist running a ruse. "Skydancer" could hardly have written a better endorsement if they were Press Secretary for Robert Burton. If they had come too close on the spelling of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, it would have been a dead giveaway. And "feather", who at first appears to know nothing about this cult, later talks about having read many articles about the Fellowship and drinking their wine! Anonymity does have its drawbacks. "SkB" is Stephen Black, a Fellowship member since 1979, and local realtor. In denying his membership, he uses the Fellowship "tool" called "intentional insincerity," what non-members would term "lying."

And for those, such as Stephen, who say Robert Burton never said he was Jesus Christ, that may literally be true. On numerous occasions (perhaps prior to Stephen's joining the Fellowship,) I heard him state that, in terms of his "level of being," he was second only to Jesus. And then we have own his words, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle,
When asked if he thinks he is Jesus Christ, Burton stared for a long moment into the fire flickering warmly a few feet away, then murmured: “Thou sayest it.”

He had chosen the words of his answer from the Bible. That was Christ’s reply (in Matthew 15:2) to Pontius Pilate when asked if he was king of the Jews.]

"dunloper" wrote, January 7, 2008 10:12:59 AM PST:
...would love to meet some of you online from the area... and find out a little about the community spirit.

We are horse owners, mostly trail ride. Our kids are grown so it'd just be the two of us.  We don't plan to build a new house... just buy an existing one.

So, this post is to say hi and listen to any input you may have about living in the area.


"bethl" wrote, January 7, 2008 7:58:43 PM PST:

My husband and I moved to the area a little over 2 years ago. We live near Oregon House, behind the Ace Hardware. We love it up here!! It's our first time living in the country. We love all the people that we've met since moving here. We've found it much easier to make new friends here than we did in any of the cities that we lived in (San Francisco, Sacramento, Phoenix).

There's lots of horse people up here and many of them visit this site.
This site is a good place to connect with some local people.

Best of luck to you and your wife!


"dunloper" wrote, January 7, 2008 8:08:09 PM PST:
Hi... thank you for the response. We are hopeful it will work out but it's always a little insecure to move to an entirely new area, especially when we are leaving behind some long term and dear friends. So hearing a positive reply is really nice. We were reading online tonight about the area and came across many articles on the religious group in the area and to be honest, I didn't know if we should be concerned about that.

"stefen" wrote, January 8, 2008 5:07:32 AM PST:

HI .... you would love it here! the peace and beauty and the friendly people.... you dont have to worry about the ''religous [sic]'' cult here... they wont bother you but beware of joining them ... they are led by a fanatic ..who says he is Jesus Christ... Duh!! if Jesus was here, we believers would be going home with him; not remain on earth....the cult members are made up of sophisticated, intelligent people and they are being mind controlled , that sort of thing....dont worry about them , most of the foothills is wary of them and dont really welcome their cause....Welcome to Oregon House.... you will get used to the elements and wild animals... we have mountain lions although we learn to live among them,I hope this excerpt does not alarm you but it is indeed mountain lion country in the foothills.....

"dunloper" wrote, January 8, 2008 6:02:47 AM PST:
Thanks for your comments... yeah, I believe the connection to God is straight from the heart... don't need a human guru to lead me there, and take my money LOL. I was shocked to see how much land they had on Google Earth so I thought I'd inquire about if it had been a problem to the locals.

About the wildlife... it looked like an area where they would prosper so I'm not surprised to hear about lions, now that you mention it. We have lost chickens to coyotes and hawks and the way we look at it is sometimes they get to our dinner before we do. I get a little angrier when it's a well fed domestic dog wandering through, looking to chase them.

Thank you, Stefen, and again, Beth, for the encouraging and welcoming words.

"AJ" wrote, January 9, 2008 1:30:03 PM PST:

heck, I wasn't even aware of them. They must not be too influential.
Where are you moving from?


"Deleted Member" wrote, January 9, 2008 5:01:43 PM PST:

Hi and Welcome!!!

Our family is new to the area too. We love love love it. Very nice people, neighbors & shop keepers.  The OH store has marvelous imported chocolates..... the Willow Glen is lots of fun for cocktails, billiards, darts and good food.....what more could ya ask for???

"dunloper" wrote, January 9, 2008 7:05:29 PM PST:

We currently live about 30 miles away. We love it here but have been longing to get up and out further. Expected we'd move in a few maybe 5 or 7 years but found ourselves talking about it more and more. We took a drive up when my folks were out visiting "just to look around" (should a known better) and next thing you know we're hip deep in making an offer. There's still some hurdles before we can say it's a go. I have to make some inspections, pull the old permits and other things have to get put in order.

I hadn't heard of the cult either till just last week. ..some doozie stories on it, but I learned today it's quieted down. Did want to ask, though.

I'll keep you posted. If it happens maybe we can have a bbq and get acquainted. The area takes me back to the good old days.

"GoldCountryRanches" wrote, January 15, 2008 5:00:08 AM PST:

Hi There!

There is a wonderful resource for trail information: This site has maps of the Daughtery Hill Wildlife reserve and etc which wraps around behind the ace store essentially from Los Verjeles Rd. There is a lot of open space owned by the state up here and a lot of it is open for trail riding most of the year excepting hatching season for birds and etc. because it is actually habitat. There is also a rather renowned equestrian center in OH called Hiskin's Eventful Acres. Area's to look at include those off Rice's Texas Hill, and that side Marysville Rd. where the property is relatively level. There are also lots of dirt and gravel roads to explore on horsevack [sic] and horse camping at Little Grass Valley Lake, Horse swimming at sly creek resevoir [sic]. You can certainly get by with a rather meager barn set up to start with usually because it isn't as cold in OH as other foothill areas can be. Ray Bradley makes custom pipe stall if you order it along with round pens and etc.

Prices are great for buyer's right now and Rates are at a 2 year record low for loans - great time to buy in Oregon House!!

"doggydoc" wrote, January 15, 2008 9:09:11 AM PST:
Hi Dunloper,

My wife & I recently divorced and have our home for sale in Oregon House. It is on Yuba Ranch Way, directly across the road from the Hisken's Eventful Acres equestrian facility. We loved living in the area- we've been here 5 1/2 years & have great neighbors & friends here, and the climate is wonderful (above the fog usually in winter, cooler than the valley in summer). I would be happy to show you around the area, introduce you to Rod Hisken, or show you our property- feel free to drop me a note.

"SkB" wrote, January 15, 2008 9:22:26 PM PST:
to Stefen; just to set the record straight. the guy that leads that group never claimed to be Jesus Christ. I've lived among these folks for almost 20 years though not being a part of it myself, and what I can say is a few of them I've met are weird, but for the most part, just talking about daily encounters at the store and hardware store here, they seem like really decent, friendly, level headed people. I honestly can say I never came across one who I knew to be a part of that whole thing that seemed "mind controlled" as you say. I suggest you let new comers get their own take on such matters instead of telling them things you don't know about or are trying to have an agenda about. thanks for considering. sb

"stefen" wrote, January 16, 2008 6:37:22 AM PST:

What I know about Robert Burton comes from actual stories told by friends and other people in Oregon House who learned from others. You say you lived among them but were not a member, do you not realize that they are a secret society that only disillusined [sic] members that left the cult are the ones that have told all etc... plus this website...check it out....Fellowship of Friends
Fellowship of Friends, Robert Burton, The Farm, Via Del Sol, Mount Carmel and Renaissance ... Oregon House Award-winning Yuba County winery also serves as a cult Italian ...
Cached page [ed. - Link is dead]

"dunloper" wrote, January 16, 2008 7:15:47 AM PST:
no prob, I had asked the question and appreciated the answers I got. The things I read on the 'net were in line with what Stefan had posted. Comments from previous cult members who had left the group and were posting warnings in online blogs in hopes of dissuading other vulnerable people from joining. I had just wondered if their presence had had any effect on the general population in Oregon House.

"stefen" wrote, January 16, 2008 8:01:08 AM PST:
Thank you for your support Dunloper.....Actually as to what I have learned about Robert Burton is truly outrageous and immoral, the part that intrigues me most is that he represents himself to be Jesus could so many intelligent people adhere to this individual with the assumption of Burton Being Christ...?.........As to SKB'S words, I do not have an agenda against Richard Burton [sic] ....I only feel that his whole world is absurd.

"feather" wrote, January 16, 2008 5:27:49 PM PST:
Stefen, I didn't know that there was a cult in the hills. Can you please tell us more about them and where they are?

"skydancer" wrote, January 16, 2008 5:52:28 PM PST:

About the Fellowship of Friends here in Oregon House, I am not a member, but I know a few people who are, and have been interested in hearing about them. For me they add sparkle to the Oregon House community. Here is some of what I have gathered SECOND HAND...Robert Burton is their leader and teacher. He does NOT claim to be Jesus Christ and seems to me NOT at all a fanatic. He is a somewhat eccentric and charismatic teacher who has undergone many changes in his philosophy over the years, starting with the philosophies of of Gerjeef [sic](spelling?) and Ospenski [sic](spelling?). From what I gather, he has moved away from these original teachings and on to many other philosophies such as Christianity, Buddism [sic], Hinduism, and other religions. He seems to look for the truth in all religions. There has been evidence of a great interest in Egyptology. He has a rather flamboyant and artistic style, and has attracted an intellectual and artistic group of followers, generally speaking. Among his followers are world-class classical musicians, ballet dancers, opera singers, painters, sculptors, etc. Some are wealthy, many are not. There are doctors, lawyers, writers, professionals, entreprenuers [sic], artists, craftspeople, tradespeople, IT people, and just everyday folks from all over the world. They are generally well-dressed, well-spoken, and well-educated. I would say a high-class cult as cults go. I don't know how many followers there are, but I believe they number in the low thousands and have centers all over the world.

There seems to be some controversy surounding [sic] them and their teacher Robert Burton. I have tried to understand what that is all about, since they have always seemed perfectly harmless to me, and interesting as well. This may be a reaction to an elitist attitude that a few of them carry, but certainly not all are this way. They are secretive, but so is the Masonic Lodge, and many other groups. They have a right to be if they so desire I have encountered disgruntled ex-members, but I couldn't discover the basis of their disgruntlement, though I didn't probe too much, and they didn't seem to want to talk about it. Perhaps they didn't get everything they wanted from their membership.

Another source of contention amongst some members seems to be the zealous fund-raising within the group. They spend a lot of money with their many and varied social activities, and look to their members for cash on a regular basis. There are lavish dinners, concerts, operas, ballet's, receptions, and other special events and projects to finance. This is burdensome for the less-affluent. "If you want to play, you've got to pay" seems to be their methodology for raising money. I gather it's pretty expensive to belong to this group, especially if one wants to be part of all the wonderful activities. Members who can't afford it feel left out.

For me they are an interesting bunch, but not for me. Too expensive. My spiritual endeavors satisfy me and are free. That said, I know I would enjoy this group if I could afford it. They are NOT fanatics, though perhaps a few are eccentric and put some people off with elitist airs. Those who say Robert Burton claims to be Jesus Christ are just plain silly and misinformed. He is an eclectic, intelligent, charismatic, slightly flamboyant, slightly eccentric spiritual and philosophical teacher. His teachings take in a range of well-established philosophies and religions.

"feather" wrote, January 16, 2008 6:15:01 PM PST:

So to belong to the group, you have to be wealthy, well educated, and have a high intellectual mind ?

"Wolf" wrote, January 16, 2008 6:53:40 PM PST

No, there isn't a cult up here. There are various spiritual communities and members up here and several churches if that is what you mean. I don't think "The fellowshiop [sic] of Friends" is any more a cult than the inter-denminational [sic] churches are, or the Catholic Church, The Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Pentacostal [sic] Church, Jewish, Zen or any of the other of the many spiritual paths up here and beyond.

Me personally, I enjoy having a variety of faiths in the community and think it is the mark of a healthy community to have a variety of spiritual faiths and different cultures. Good exposure for kids who will have to play nicely with different people with different beliefs when they get older. Unfortunately, there will be those who define a cult as someone not part of their particular belief system, and in so doing miss out on a very rich expierence [sic] indeed. Just my 2 cents.

"dunloper" wrote, January 16, 2008 8:20:22 PM PST:
I'm all for religious diversity. I enjoy the differences of cultures and learning how individuals experience life in this world and the sometimes odd ways we humans pay tribute to a higher existence.

But what I learned of this fellowship was quite disturbing. I was going to post a link to a blog where former members posted their extensive descriptions of what goes on and what was asked of some members, but I believe that the nature of their stories from behind closed doors is too disturbing to post on a family forum.

If anyone wants to read further and develop their own impression they can do a search on google with these words "fellowship of friends sketchbook" and click the link at the top of the searches. Grab a cup of coffee and be prepared to read awhile. [ed. - I've provided the link: "fellowship of friends sketchbook".]

As for me, I'm not concerned about living amongst them. What I'm hearing is that they do not impose their beliefs on anyone outside the cult and that they are nice people and do bring an enjoyable diversity to the community in the form of products that the stores now carry, that they would not have otherwise stocked. Having said that, I have to add that after what I read on the link referenced above, if my handsome son was young enough to still live at home, I would be overprotective of him in the midst of any cult members. Best to err on the side of caution when it comes to my children.

It's tempting to feel sorry for them as I imagine anyone looking for their higher self in this way is lost. Like many extremist religions they have been taught an "us and them" way of looking at people, which seems divisive and condescending. But who am I to say who is lost and who isn't. I just personally prefer to remain free of cults because they remove our ability to trust our own God given guidance.

"stefen" wrote, January 17, 2008 3:04:38 AM PST:


your link did not go to the source, I'm sure this is the blog of which you speak about

"dunloper" wrote, January 17, 2008 5:04:27 AM PST:

good morning, Stefen, I didn't post the link because the topics on the blog I found were too disturbing for me to want to make a direct link so I described a way to find it if anyone were interested. I'll read yours tonight. I'm off to work now.


Sorry this has turned into a cult discussion lol.

"democat" wrote, January 17, 2008 7:38:58 AM PST:
Hello folks- If you're interested in an active group of folks Foothill Lions Club at 5667 Fruitland Rd, Loma Rica. they meet on the first and third thursday at 7p.m. Dinner is served during the meeting.
The club is open from 5pm to 7pm. for those who want to socialize.

We have several fund raising events during the year including the Blues Festival, raise funds for trained dogs given to the disabled at no cost to them, collect glasses which are taken to Mexico and distributed to those in need, assist victims of fire, flood and other disasters... we have a fun while working on many of these events.

There are a number of horse owners, some dog show people, some retirees, and a number of new members from all over. All in all, a group of varied experiences.
You won't find the fanatics hanging around. [ed. - Emphasis added.]

What you want out of religion, if any, is up to you a well as politics. So just come and have a good time.

(Here is my 2 cents about the "cult" comments. There is no cult. There is a private group of decent people who espose [sic] ceretain [sic] beliefs of their own. They mind their own business, and cause no problems in the community. It is only the fanatics who constantly want to run every one else's life that cause the dissention [sic], in my opinion.) [ed. - Again, emphasis added.]

The membership of the Lions Club consists of men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Some are retired.

The Club seems to be the main social meeting place from the community outside the churches.

While I am no longer in thoroughbred horses, I along with most of the folks in the coutry [sic], appreciate them as well as the numerous wild life with which we share our places on this earth. I have akc show dogs and do some rescue if you are looking for a companion pet.

If you would like more info. about the local resources feel free to contact me at [ed. - e-mail address deleted] or continue to watch this Foothills web site for they do keep on top of stuff. /democat

"Deleted Member" wrote, January 23, 2008 8:21:14 AM PST:
Moving to OH:

Realtor recommendation ~~ Teresa at Gold Country Ranches (her link is above) is an awesome and HONEST realtor. I would highly recommend her!!!
re: cult... they keep to themselves because we "life people" are to be avoided. [ed. Emphasis added] That's cool. They don't bother me at all. Kinda sad that the Oregon House community is identified a lot by the cult, but OH had a history LONG before the fellowship moved in and OH will continue long after the fellowship dissolves, which from what I hear could be sooner rather than later. Whatever.
We love living here. There are people of all kinds....lots of diversity. I've only met one rude person since moving here.....but it turns out he lives down the hill....LOL

"stefen" wrote, January 23, 2008 9:00:49 AM PST:
They don't bother me at all, it's just the fact of what I hear about Richard Burton [sic] and how he also pays for men from other countries to live among the fellowship or fiance [sic] a rental nearby and if they don't adhere to his rules, he confiscates their passports and thrus [sic] they are trapped in the country.....'The Renaissance Winery' is run by the fellowship.... The Fellowship of Friends has changed their name and I forget what they are now called.......

"Deleted Member" wrote, January 23, 2008 9:54:59 AM PST:

Yea Stefen.... but a comforting thought is that they really don't "recruit" here, they seem to send [sic] out for their "students" mostly in foreign countries. That was a concern of mine when moving here.....and having impressionable kids. As far as being held "hostage," the good news is that many of those men have been deported.....AND with a computer and a tiny effort, anyone can do their homework and learn both sides of this group before joining (or moving to the OH area). The internet has really shed a bright light on this group. Anyway....they are still called the Fellowship of Friends. However, the "ranch" itself has changed it's name many times. It was Renaissance and Appollo [sic] and now it's Isis.....I think. The place has had a lot of names over the years.

"feather" wrote, January 23, 2008 12:37:13 PM PST:
Seems the subjuct is getting away from the OH move. My questions about the Fellowship Of Friends are the following.

1. Are they breaking the law ?
2. How do they interfere in you life ?
3. Are they an eye sore to the community ?
4. Have they helped in the community ?

Just my 2 cents, but the undertones here seems to have some hate for the Fellowship Of Friends. I am just trying to understand why? I was told by some of the OH residents that they did help the community during the Williams fire. It seems that should count for something. I am not a member of the group and have my own believes [sic], but I also don't feel that I should impose my beliefs on my neighbors. Just my 2 cents worth!!

"CharlieSexton" wrote, January 23, 2008 1:27:21 PM PST:

Here is an interesting Sac Bee article about the Fellowship mentioning Cult, Jesus, Burton, etc.

Our Hal Stocker's name is even in it.----no he is not a member.

Of course just because it's printed doesn't necessarily mean it's true.

"Deleted Member" wrote, January 23, 2008 5:04:03 PM PST:
feather: no hate here. none whatsoever. if interested, do the research and decide for yourselves.... Go in Peace my friend!!

"feather" wrote, January 23, 2008 5:36:33 PM PST:

I have read many news articles about this group, and have [been?] drinking their wine. I don't believe in their believes [sic]. But they are adults going into this so called cult. You have to want to be led, in order to follow a leader, right? It's very hard to brainwash someone if they chose not to be brainwashed. They must be aloud [sic] to leave, or we wouldn't be hearing from the past members, right? But what do I know about it, I live in the large, grand city of Loma Rica, not O.H. It just makes me wonder about the whole setup that's all. Don't want to offend anyone here.

"stefen" wrote, January 24, 2008 5:46:01 AM PST:

Yes Feather I believe that to be correct that you have to want to be led in ones search for higher divine spirit.... but the people have been mislead [sic] by the immorality of Robert Burton as the story goes.......Robert Burton is not an actual religious figure as most cults go......his representation is unorthodox, there are no moral principles in his leadership

"missquiddle" wrote, January 24, 2008 8:21:16 AM PST:
Hi Dunloper, You and your wife will most likely love OH. we have lived in Dobbins (5 miles up the road) for 17 years. I wouldn't worry about The Friends of the Fellowship [sic] being a problem to you and yours. They really have no social contact with the rest of the community. Their lives are completely different than your's [sic] and mine. They are NOT a threat to the rest of us here.

We love the serenity that the area gives us. We came from the Bay Area. LOL, No 6' fences, no sirens, no gangbangers, no street lights. The neighbors are friendly. The birds are friendly. The deer will probably be the only thing you will eventually be complaining about. They will eat all your wife's flowers and her garden if they can get to it. Don't worry about the Mt. Lion. We hear about them but have never seen or heard one. However, I wouldn't suggest you leave any small domestic animals out at night. Oh, and the squirrels will eat your good stuff too. Just don't feed them!

Please come, we'll be happy to have you here.

"Deleted Member" wrote, January 24, 2008 8:28:07 AM PST:

MissQ ~~ I totally agree wouldn't want to live anyplace else! It's so beautiful here! (We came from So Cal and don't miss it ONE BIT!)

"missquiddle" wrote, January 24, 2008 9:22:23 AM PST:

Hi, feather, I just wanted to answer the four questions you asked about FOTFellowship [sic].

#1. Are they breaking the law? answer= beats me!

#2. How do they interfere in your life? answer= not at all!

#3. Are they an eyesore to the community? answer= no!

#4. Have they helped in the community? answer= no, nothing that I am aware of!

feather, we live about 1,000 feet from where the Williams fire started. We lost 1/2 of our forrest [sic] but our house stood. To my knowledge, and I was busy passing out supplies at our Thrift Shop, FOTF [sic] did NOT help anyone do anything. If others on this forum know first hand what these folks did to help us please feel free to enlighten me but please give me chapter and verse. We lost over 80 homes. A lot of people were homeless. We helped each other and some of the organizations that were there to help us were: Craftsman for Christ bringing up food and supplies; Salvation army brought clothing; Red Cross (LOL) supplied coffee; AT&T stationed telephone booths at the OH post office. There were many others but NO FOTF [sic].

I could go on but my spouse says I have to go to town for groceries. LOL, he sure is bossy!


"feather" wrote, January 24, 2008 10:11:39 AM PST:

Miss Q. I must admit that I only know of one couple that helped my mother when she lost her home in that fire. I don't know their name, but if I did I sure wouldn't tell it, for their protection. Anyways thank you for your input and the rest of you. Like I said I am just trying to understand more about how they fit into the community, more the interaction between citizens and the Fellowship group. You must admit, that this subject is much more interesting then some of the other blogs. Maybe we should start another one. Thank you to all that has responded. Sorry for changing the subject. Take care.

1 comment:

  1. If you look at when this conversation took place (Jan. 2008), it was shortly after the Sheik's Blog/fofdiscussion began. There was a lot of turmoil in the Oregon House community, and the real estate market was affected. My guess is that 'dunloper' was someone who was, or had been, in the FoF, and wanted to see what the general opinion was in the community. As for 'skydancer,' that person seemed to be a current FoF member who betrayed their pretense through deliberate misspellings of G & O's names, because in all other respects, their long post was very carefully crafted.