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.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Kelly worker wins $6.5 million in suit"

[ed. - This article is re-posted from Cult Education Institute website.]
She says she was held back for not practicing other workers' religion.

Sacramento Bee/April 5, 2008
By Denny Walsh
A former employee of Kelly Services, a worldwide provider of temporary workers, was awarded more than $6.5 million in damages Friday by a Sacramento federal jury on her claim that the company failed to promote her because she is not a member of a religious group that other employees belong to.
Lynn Noyes, who worked nearly 10 years for Kelly in Nevada City as a software developer, sued her employer in December 2002, and 17 months later she was laid off.
She claimed that a less qualified employee was promoted to software development manager in April 2001 because he is a member of the Fellowship of Friends and she is not.
Noyes claimed that the Fellowship of Friends is a religious group and that denying her the promotion was intentional reverse religious discrimination.
With approximately 2,000 members, Fellowship of Friends is a church organization founded in the esoteric Christian tradition of Fourth Way, according to its Web site.
Noyes' lawyers, M. Catherine Jones and Robert Burch, presented evidence to the jury that, between 1997 and 2001, there were five promotions to management positions in Nevada City for which she was qualified. Four of those positions went to members of the Fellowship of Friends.
An anonymous letter sent to Kelly's Michigan headquarters in 1999 complained of "unfair practices with respect to hiring, promotions and salaries," such as "promoting employees with lesser qualifications and seniority" because of their religious affiliation.
But, according to evidence presented by Noyes' lawyers, Kelly's subsequent investigation of Nevada City chief William Heinz's hiring and promotion practices failed to result in significant changes.
Evidence presented on her behalf showed fellowship numbers continued to climb until nine of the 15 full-time employees on the floor where Noyes worked were members at the time she filed her suit.
The jury deliberated barely 3 1/2 hours Thursday afternoon and Friday morning before delivering its verdict.
A prepared statement issued after the verdict by Kelly general counsel Daniel T. Lis says: "We believe today's decision was made in error with respect to both the law and the facts in this case.
"We are confident that there are a significant number of grounds on which we will appeal, which we intend to do."
The company's trial lawyers argued that Heinz, who is a Fellowship of Friends member, did not unilaterally promote fellow member Joep Jilesen into the job sought by Noyes. Rather, they argued, the decision was made "through consensus of the Nevada City management and employees."
"Significantly, Kelly first offered the position to Donna Walker, who was not a member of the fellowship, but she declined," the lawyers wrote in a trial brief. "Equally important, Mr. Heinz was initially opposed to - Mr. Jilesen because he was concerned about the appearance of favoritism.
"Ms. Noyes, on the other hand, was not perceived as the best choice to boost the morale of the software development group."
Kelly lawyers insisted the Fellowship of Friends is not a religion, but rather a "philosophical group" that could not be used to sustain a religious discrimination claim.
But the fellowship describes itself as focusing on "an esoteric interpretation of religion associated with teachings of the Old and New Testaments, traceable also in Greek philosophy, and probably originating in Egypt and Asia."
About a third of its members live near or on a fellowship-owned compound in Apollo, a hamlet in San Bernardino County about 40 miles northeast of Barstow. Members are required to donate at least 10 percent of their monthly gross income to the fellowship.
After four days of listening to testimony and viewing the evidence, the jury found that Noyes' "lack of certain religious beliefs was a motivating factor for why she was not selected."
The panel awarded her $647,174 for economic losses, including past and future lost earnings and benefits, and noneconomic losses, including emotional distress.
It awarded her $5.9 million in punitive damages to hold Kelly up as an example and deter it and other companies from discriminatory employment practices.
Kelly pioneered the temporary staffing industry in 1946 and now operates in 37 countries and territories. Its revenue in 2007 was $5.7 billion. To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Court Appeal: Lynn Noyes v. Kelly Services

[ed. - Sourced from]
Huge award in job bias case: Plaintiff's lawyer: $6.5 million ruling against Kelly
By Ryan McCarthy
McClatchy - Tribune Business News [Washington]
05 Apr 2008

Abstract (summary)

The 9th U.S. 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

Apr. 5--Lynn Noyes, who said the Nevada City office of Kelly Services denied her a promotion because she wasn't a member of the Yuba County-based Fellowship of Friends, was awarded $6.5 million Friday in her employment discrimination lawsuit against Kelly, Noyes' attorney said.

Noyes, 59, had wept Thursday after her attorney M. Catherine Jones told jurors in federal court in Sacramento during closing arguments about promotions, pay raises and jobs said to have gone to Fellowship members. Noyes did not want to comment immediately on the Friday verdict, Jones said.

"She's too emotional," the attorney said of Noyes.

Noyes had said about 90 minutes before the verdict that she wished she'd settled the case rather than gone to trial, Jones recounted.

"She just thought, 'This is too hard,'" Jones said of Noyes seven-year legal fight. "She had to go up against a big corporation."

Before trial, Noyes had sought $1.2 million to settle the case -- involving her losing a promotion to software development manager in 2001 -- but Jones said the most Kelly offered was $300,000.

Kelly Services provides temporary workers.

Jones said the jury in the U.S. District Court case deliberated for about three hours before returning with the multimillion dollar verdict.

Jones had told jurors that Michigan-based Kelly Services "needs to be punished" for its indifference to Noyes workplace rights in Nevada City. The office manager, along with the person named to the software manager job, and many of Noyes' co-workers in Nevada City were Fellowship members, Jones said.

"Maybe now Kelly Services will finally pay attention," Jones said after the verdict.

Daniel T. Lis, general counsel for Kelly Services, said in a written statement Friday that the "decision was made in error with respect to both the law and facts in this case. Kelly Services has a policy and history of not discriminating against its employees, and Kelly did not discriminate against Lynn Noyes."

The case includes a significant number of grounds for appeal and Kelly will do so, Lis said. Kelly employs more than 750,000 people and hires and promotes individuals of many backgrounds and beliefs, the attorney said.

Noyes did not name the Fellowship was in her case.

Abraham Goldman, the attorney for the Fellowship, said of the case, "It didn't involve us. We never even got a subpoena."

Goldman said Jones "must have done a hell of a job to get a verdict that size."

Jones said that Noyes "never had anything against Fellowship members."

"Many of them are quite nice," Jones said. "Generally, I don't think people know of the group."

The 9th U.S. 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.

Contact Appeal reporter Ryan McCarthy at 749-4707 or
Credit: Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

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