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.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Federal trial opens in Kelly Services case: Role of Fellowship of Friends at issue

[ed. - Sourced from]
By Ryan McCarthy
McClatchy - Tribune Business News [Washington] 26 Mar 2008.

Abstract (summary)

The Fellowship, whose Web site states that the group "was founded in 1970 in the Fourth Way tradition, also known as 'esoteric Christianity,' " is not named in Noyes' employment discrimination lawsuit filed against Michigan-based Kelly Services.

Full Text

Mar. 26--A software developer faced "reverse religious discrimination" at work because she wasn't a member of the Fellowship of Friend, her attorney told jurors Tuesday, a claim disputed by employer Kelly Services. The start of the federal trial in Sacramento in the lawsuit filed by former Kelly Services employee Lynn Noyes, 59, provided sharply contrasting pictures of the Nevada City office where Noyes worked. Noyes contends she was denied promotion to a management position because office manager William Heinz belonged to the Yuba County-based Fellowship and favored other members.

Thirteen of the 35 full-time employees were Fellowship members -- and on the floor where Noyes worked nine of the 13 employees belonged to the Fellowship, Jones said in her opening statement.

The Fellowship, whose Web site states that the group "was founded in 1970 in the Fourth Way tradition, also known as 'esoteric Christianity,' " is not named in Noyes' employment discrimination lawsuit filed against Michigan-based Kelly Services.

Noyes commuted for seven years from Nevada City to Sacramento as a part-time student to get a Masters of Business Administration degree so she could work in management, Jones said. But Heinz, "a 25-year-member of the Fellowship," selected another Fellowship member who received a $10,000 raise after six months, Jones said.

The attorney cited an anonymous letter sent to Kelly Services about the influence of Fellowship members at the office. "We are outnumbered here," the letter stated.

E. Joseph Connaughton, the attorney representing Kelly, said in his opening statement that "This case will tell a story about a man who tried to do the right thing."

Office manager Heinz had sought advice from others when a management position opened, Connaughton said. The post was first offered to a non-Fellowship member, who turned it down, Connaughton said.

"You're not going to see intentional religious discrimination," the attorney said.

He said of the Fellowship that, "I have no idea what they are. I don't entirely get it."

Members seems to be a bunch of smart and very well-educated people, Connaughton said.

Kelly Services twice sent representatives from Michigan to investigate assertions that the Fellowship influenced operations at the Nevada City office, the attorney said.

Noyes had sought $1.2 million from Kelly Services to settle the case, according to a court document.

She and other employees in Nevada City were laid off in 2004 and Kelly Services closed the office the next year.

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

Credit: Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

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