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.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Fellowship of Friends caught misrepresenting the "church"

Tim Campion posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
On the Lam?
The Fellowship of Friends has changed its on-line identity so many times, you’d think they were running from the law!

The Wikipedia page for Fellowship of Friends was taken down. Apparently it could not withstand a mediated, collaborative community discussion that gave voice to both boosters and detractors.
I suspect the name Fellowship of Friends is a cross Robert Burton would rather not bear, but perhaps the name is inextricably tied to that precious 501(c)(3) tax exemption granted to “churches”.
The  “Who We Are” section of the “Living Presence” website tells us:

The Fellowship of Friends is registered as a 501(c)(3) California non-profit church organization and is a member of the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC) and the California Council of Churches.
[ed. - since modified, though it still makes the claim at this site.]
[ed. - Well, since posting the above note, they also cleaned up that site. It's encouraging to see that the foot soldiers monitor the blogs. It may yet open their eyes. For the record, web page captures have been kept.]

Membership in those two groups appears to be nothing but a cynical attempt to portray legitimacy. Other than tax-exempt status, what do these organizations have in common?

[The following letter - or similar ones - were apparently sent by various individuals to the below-mentioned organizations.]

Posted by "WhaleRider" to the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
Dear Board Members of the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC) and the California Council of Churches:

As you may or may not be aware, your organization has within its ranks a quasi-church known most recently as “Living Presence” and formally known as “Pathway to Presence” and as the “Fellowship of Friends”. The group displays its affiliation with your organization in its online advertising here:

What you do not know is that the founder and pastor of this corrupt, hedonistic cult, Mr. Robert E. Burton, regularly has sex with multiple male members of his flock, uses his position of power to live a lavish and expensive lifestyle, and has had a civil law suit filed against him for having sex with an under-aged boy infecting him with the herpes virus, which settled out of court for an undisclosed sum of money whereby all are sworn to secrecy. The details of the suit, a matter of public record are here:

(insert B[uzbee] vs. B[urton] [lawsuit information])

We trust that upon closer scrutiny, you will find the above mentioned group does not meet your high standards of moral decency and has absolutely nothing in common with the Christian faith. In fact, Mr. Robert E. Burton claims to be the second coming of Christ.

We pray you will take this matter as seriously as we do and take the appropriate action.


Former Follower of Robert E. Burton

[The following is one reply, received via e-mail and posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog. The bolds are mine:]
Dear Tim,

Thank you for your email. The Fellowship of Friends is not now, nor has it ever been, a member of the California Council of Churches. Our member denominations are listed on our website at

I have written to them in the past to request they remove any reference to the California Council of Churches, but have to admit I never followed up on it. So thanks for reminding me of this. I will ask a member of our board of directors who is an attorney to send them a cease and desist letter. And I will also send an email to the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC) to alert them to do the same.

Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.



The Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser
Executive Director
California Council of Churches
California Council of Churches IMPACT

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