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.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Suit claims discrimination: Software company favored Fellowship, woman says

[ed. - Sourced from]
By Ryan McCarthy
McClatchy - Tribune Business News [Washington]
19 Feb 2008

Abstract (summary)

The federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2007 ruling reversing a Sacramento federal court's dismissal of the case, describes the Fellowship as "a small religious group," and notes the Fellowship characterizes itself as a "way of life."

Full Text

Feb. 19--Lynn Noyes says she lost her chance for a management job in software development because the Nevada City office where she worked favored Fellowship of Friends members -- an assertion the Fellowship, her employer and a state agency dispute.

The Yuba County-based Fellowship is not named in the lawsuit filed by Noyes in 2002 against Kelly Services. A March 25 trial is set in federal court in Sacramento after a long legal history that includes a ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Noyes sought $1.2 million from Kelly Services to settle the case, according to a Jan. 7 document filed in Sacramento federal court.

Fellowship attorney Abraham Goldman said William Heinz, the manager of the Nevada City office named in Noyes' lawsuit as promoting another Fellowship member to the software development management job Noyes sought in 2001, is "one of the most honest and ethical people I know."

"I know he went out of his way to be impartial," Goldman said of Heinz. "He took every measure to avoid the possibility of discrimination of any kind."

Attorney M. Catherine Jones, who is representing Noyes, contends Fellowship members from the Yuba County foothills community of Oregon House dominated the workplace in Nevada County.

"The Fellowship had essentially taken over the Nevada City office," Jones said.

According to Noyes' lawsuit, nine of the 15 full-time employees on the floor where she worked were Fellowship me bers in 2002.

She said she was earning $57,100 in 2001 when denied the chance to compete for the management position.

"If I had been a member of the Fellowship of Friends," Noyes states in a court document, "I would have been considered and selected for the position."

The federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2007 ruling reversing a Sacramento federal court's dismissal of the case, describes the Fellowship as "a small religious group," and notes the Fellowship characterizes itself as a "way of life." About 2,000 people are members, according to the federal court ruling, and about one-third live on Fellowship-owned property in the Oregon House area.

The Fellowship's Web site states that the group "was founded in 1970 in the Fourth Way tradition, also known as 'esoteric Christianity.' "

Noyes contends she lost the promotion despite her superior qualifications, including a Master of Business Administration degree she received in 1991 after going to school part time. She also asserts that Kelly Services improperly denied her the chance to compete for several other promotions.

The state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, after reviewing Noyes' discrimination claims, concluded Noyes' allegation could not be sustained. Of the four candidates for the management job, two were Fellowship members and two were not, the state agency said, noting that the person first selected for the job did not belong to the Fellowship.

Human Resource representatives from Kelly Services visited the Nevada City office and concluded no impropriety was involved in the decision to promote another employee to the position Noyes sought.

A 2001 memo sent from a manager at the Nevada City office to other staff members states that the irony of favoritism allegations is that "we're all nerds and geeks."

"Even in a religious context," continues the memo that is among documents filed in Sacramento federal court, "we could not be more diverse -- our staff is comprised of Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Jews, Baha'is, philosophical theists of several varieties, atheists and undecideds."

Renee Walker, spokeswoman for Kelly Services, said Monday that Kelly would not comment beyond the statements made in court documents.

Noyes and other employees in Nevada City were laid off in 2004 and Kelly Services closed the office the next year, according to court documents.

Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Ryan McCarthy at 749-4707 or

Credit: Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

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