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 most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

According to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish while, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci), Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new and more perfect civilization. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

On the care of Robert Burton's flock

Asaf Braverman and Dorian Matei, Fellowship of Friends cult leaders
Asaf Braverman and Dorian Matei on right. Interlude before a humble meal.

[ed. - In stark contrast to the luxury portrayed above, which is enjoyed by some Fellowship members (most notably Robert's "inner circle"), many Fellowship members, while donating large portions of their income to the cult, have long relied upon taxpayer-subsidized welfare and other services to meet basic nutritional, health and medical needs. The following are stories about the care (of lack thereof) for the elderly, disabled and the general working population at the Fellowship's Oregon House headquarters.]

JG's story. "Bares Reposting" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 8, 2011
 111/184. S____y – September 7, 2011

‘. . .We didn’t have much compassion in the FF. Kindness, yes, but I don’t think there was true compassion.’
Here is limited example of the kindness and compassion of the Fellowship of Friends (FoF), Pathway to Presence, Living Presence,, Church of Robert Earl Burton (REB):

‘For more than 10 years I worked hard, earned good money ‘in life,’ and supported FoF with my $$$’s donations and knew little of the behind the scenes activities, so to speak, but heard a little. Then my life changed and the next more than 10 years were spent living up close and personal (in other words: intimately), with how FoF operates behind the scenes. I witnessed the unbelievable. But, as long as I was not directly being abused, it was someone else’s play. Here is an example:
My friend, call them JG, was a near and dear friend. You might say I knew them intimately, without being in a sexual relationship; it was an emotional and spiritual relationship. JG had history of substance abuse, in particular, alcohol – not life threatening. In the early days of FoF, they were a pioneer and supporter of what was happening with FoF in Oregon House. They were also independent and had friends and family not in FoF. In short, they were somewhat of a rogue element. Their partner died at an early age. After that, there were times when they would, as the saying would go, get into the harem of REB by having interests in one of his young men. This represented competition. Often alcohol was of significance in these ‘dalliances.’ So, alcohol abuse became the target, since it would be difficult to make it about something else, i.e.: raiding the harem, and bring unwanted attention to this secret society that REB maintained.
Flash forward by about 30 years. JG is on a permanent task of no alcohol under any circumstances – not even to be seen with a glass, with or without alcohol in it – maybe empty would be OK, but no guarantee – might give the appearance that the glass was emptied by drinking the contents. If it appeared that it could be alcohol, someone would be reporting it. It did not require a condition of compromised behaviour due to alcohol; nor dalliance with the harem, nor DUI. Really hard to comply with this when so much of the FoF culture involved wine and toasting glasses, etc. Gradually, over the years, more and more justified, and mostly unjustified, constraints of the task were applied to my friend that eventually lead to a leave-of-absence (LOA) that I personally witnessed.
There was a time, more than once, that serious alcohol abuse developed in the FoF/O.H. community. This was a recurrent problem. There was around 1998, or so, a serious effort to address this – especially with a prediction looming – fall of California. One BE, a council member, was assigned, or adopted, the effort to convene a group that would try to ‘work’ on this problem with people. My friend decided to go since they had so much experience in this area that they thought they could help. Besides being an elder in the community, they also had some professional standing. They did not go because they needed help, nor were they under the influence, nor did they drink or appear to drink, at these meetings. Nevertheless, it was reported to REB that they were there. Boom, task violated; leave-of-absence (LOA) imposed. Over the years, ever more stringent punishment was applied to these leaves-of-absence and ever lengthening leaves-of-absence imposed and difficulty of task required. I was confided in these activities.
On this particular offense, it was 6 months LOA, as I remember it, in 1998. (The next time would be a promised permanent outing.) The requirement was, that if they were on LOA, then they could have no contact with any FoF members and that meant that any members living on their property had to move out – even though they lived in a private separate quarters by themselves and could have someone else carry on any contact with the tenants.
Several of the tenants were elderly and disabled: one was an FoF elder who was crippled and with heart condition. Another was in their 80′s or possibly 90′s and somewhat infirm. There were others of various health and wellness conditions. They all had to find new homes. This was likely the beginning of the end for one of them – they would die shortly after this episode. But, first, my friend tried to compromise or negotiate. They proposed to leave their own home and save these other people from having to leave. Some trusted person would be left in charge of the property. This was accepted. They tried to do that. They went off somewhere (and, that is another whole story), but suffice it to say, they could not manage it and came back in a couple of weeks. It was rapidly reported to the minions of flying monkeys. If they did not leave, it was curtains for all. Everyone moved out in 48 hours, as required.
That was one of the more egregious examples of things I witnessed.’
It is possible that there are other sides to this story, as there almost always are other sides.

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog - September 8, 2011
Jomo, (#112-12 or thereabouts),[blogger, blog page and post number]
I think, based on what later happened with the Los Angeles Times case, and the general impression I got from talking to her, that Stella was simply frightened. At the time of the LAT case, she and Harold were so poor that they had to ask their friends for help just to pay for the advice of lawyers. Remember that the LAT did not include her under their defense umbrella in court, thought they used her words in their story. Abraham Goldman already had an established reputation as a ruthless “attack is the best defense” lawyer, and Stella probably envisaged their meager savings going to lawyers in the flash of an eye.
Stella was postmistress at the Carmel post office when she joined the Fellowship of Friends in June 1970, and had a secure career. Burton later persuaded her to resign so she could be on salary full–time; she was a much more talented teacher of the Fourth Way than he was, and for those who took the Fourth Way seriously, she was a major attraction. When she noted that she would be giving up her career and pension rights, Burton promised that the Fellowship of Friends would take care of all that. After she was given the boot, she fell back on other skills, but these jobs were not paid well, nor did they last. When she retired due to bad health, Harold was able to pull them through with his (mostly seasonal) artwork, but they had no large nest egg, and certainly nothing to withstand lawsuits.
Burton boasted to me in 1981 that the Fellowship would have a complete retirement scheme for all those who worked on salary, paid for by the enormous sums we would earn as a premier winery. I guess he thought I needed to hear that. He’s still batting zero in the prediction business. . .

"Mole" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 20, 2007 at 9:47 p.m.:
No health insurance. Even workmans compensation was axed about two years ago.Everyone on ‘salary’ was asked to sign a disclaimer stating that their wages were actually ‘compensation’ for voluntary services so as not to be covered by insurance laws…..

"Opus 111" wrote on the Fellowship of  Friends Discussion blog, June 20, 2007 at 10:26 p.m.:
#593 Kathleen, #603 Mole [Blog post numbers and bloggers]
Although there is no health insurance plan that is sponsored by FOF, there are still a number of students on salary covered by CA workman’s compensation plan (for work-related illnesses/accidents), and the fellowship is paying for that coverage. There are a number of students who are not, and it is unclear (to me) what criteria are in place to determine who is and who is not covered. There was also, at one time, an agreement between the local clinic (run by a FOF doc) and FOF to provide first visit for general screening and treatment of uncomplicated ailments. I do not know whether that agreement still exists. For most care that include specialized opinion or treatment/X-Ray or lab work, salaried students need to go to nearby towns. Most of them, given their low income, will qualify for the state-sponsored insurance coverage “Medical”.

"Bruce" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 20, 2007 at 11:32 p.m.:
[responding to post] 613
On the subject of health care, here’s a quaint story from olden days.
We were in the crunch to finish the Town Hall. Robert had given one of his unrealistic opening dates and booked the music. There were several crews working around the clock trying to meet the deadline. We were all working outrageous shifts. Robert would occasionally show up to help with angles like “Goodness, lets tear that wall down and move it over two inches or so”. Or that kind of bullshit.
I had been working for weeks. We were basically not allowed to leave the property if we were on salary. I noticed some pain in a tooth and asked RB to go to the local dentist who was treating most of the salaried workers because he took MediCal and he knew the system enough that he would be able to treat an emergency without having to go to Marysville and screw with the red tape.
Robert said no, I couldn’t leave. So I continued to work. Over the next few days my face started to swell on one side, and was constantly hot. RB said I could go when the Town Hall was finished. Long story short, I couldn’t eat due to the pain. The swelling continued. The day of the opening RB said I could go. I went. The dentist, who knew the whole story, said “What the hell’s wrong with that guy”? He told me a story that a student had been sent to have a little chip in front veneered so it would look nice, and he could travel occasionally with RB. As a gift for working hard RB told the student he would pay for it. So he went and the dentist said the kids whole mouth was a mess and he’d be losing teeth. He said putting a veneer on that tooth, in light of what he saw, was like gluing a diamond on top of skin cancer so it would look nice. He was pretty red in the face by then.
So he gave me some antibiotics and told me the choices were to have it pulled or have a three tooth bridge. I told him I would have to ask RB.
RB said have it pulled, that’s what he’d pay for. I was in pain and in no position to argue.
Here’s the clincher. RB then had the balls to come up to me and say “Goodness, I want you to know that I paid for the dentist out of my coffer, my personal coffer”. I’ll never forget that moment.
Here’s to the second coming of Christ’s conscience, consciousness, will, compassion of all the rest of his horse shit.
And yes, I should have had my f*****g head examined while I was at it.

"veramente" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 21, 2007 at 5:40 a.m.:
I forgot who asked about health insurance in the fof. 

In my times, early 90′s, there was no coverage for anyone on salary, we could not afford to pay for a premium, are we kidding?
When serious illness striked and got the first 500 dollars bill from the ER we soon realized we needed to do some hefty paper work and apply for the county medical services.
MediCal came later, a much more comprehensive coverage throughout the state of California, but in order to obtain that one has to prove a disability, more paper work, more monthly reports of income.
The fof did put a tremendous strain on the county because the pay roll were at a even lower level of what is considered poverty.
Occasionally RB would help in some situations, I forgot which student he helped when the guy hurt himself during a game, in my case he even offered to cover a very expensive procedure in the event it was needed. (100-150 thousands dollars)
In this instance I felt he was speaking from his heart and he was caring.
But I just cannot believe the general level of TRAMP, excuse me for the work language! the level of tramp in the fof towards his workers!
Talk about living and working at a considerable risk for your own future. When you are young and reasonably energetic and healthy, you do not think of disaster awaiting for you especially on the health front.
If you get sick the county will take care of you, not the fellowship of friends.

"William" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 8, 2010:
296. William [post number and blogger]
291. 2010
"Most of the current members know they are part of a hoax. They just don’t fucking care.”
Well of course, they can’t AFFORD to care! They have no retirement plan, no jobs to speak of, they dress like they’ve emerged from some 1980s or 1990s time capsules in ill-fitting hand-me-down Lauren and Armani. For lack of any reasonable health insurance, they’ve let the teeth rot out of their heads and walk around like gimpy, thanks to the injuries that never healed properly. They can’t afford medication to treat physical and psychological disorders — let alone operations for heart ailments, or MRIs to scan for cancer. For the most part, they have no real friends on the outside; they alienated their families years ago with weird behavior and neglect. Their job skills are way behind the curve — they’ve neglected that, too. Tech writing jobs were outsourced a decade ago, and those “professionals” are working for less and less pay against younger and younger competition.
They never retooled for the technology age — I remember when Shippers started filming videos of Il Duce’s meetings, and talked about how they were bringing cutting-edge technology to an esoteric teaching. C’mon guys … video? That’s been around since when? 1960s?
They are, in many cases, no longer employable. The worst cases no longer know how to behave normally around people, how to be “invisible” in life.
If they CARED they would have to get off their fannies and make the real effort of their lives. Cynicism is easier. And they’ll never look or feel like backwoods crackers if they hang out with their own kind in the compound. They can feel swish going to receptions where the wimmen wear outdated sequined dresses and the guys wear poorly tailored tuxedoes that no longer accommodate their midlife girth. Not to mention luring their own kids into the fraudulent organization, a pathetic means to validate their misspent lives (it’s no coincidence that the kids joining tended to be pliant daughters, the “good girls”).
Here’s the news, if any of you Shippers are out there reading this: IT DOESN’T GET EASIER. Look at the elderly among you. No, no — not the showcase elderly who get daily phone calls from R.B. and pharonic funerals when they die — the average ones that die impoverished, receiving substandard care or shuffled off to their alienated families. That’s your future, folks! There’s too many of you getting old for each of you to get star treatment. The numbers are against it. Besides, R.B. is preoccupied.
The demographic bulge is moving towards the young, attractive people who want green cards and know little about “The System” that the FOF formally abandoned years ago. They don’t admire you for your 30 years of “valuation.” They need you to underwrite their dreams for the future – and that’s about it. You’re too old to have sex with — but they are willing to flatter and marry sagging post-menopausal women (and men with prostate problems) for a couple years if that buys them a ticket to stay. What do you get out of it? Hey, it’ll give you a state, a fix! It’ll make you forget, for a little while…
There’s an alternative. Cut your losses. Thirty misspent years isn’t as bad as thirty-two.
Leave now! Hard as it is, you’ll find help, and you’ll pull something of a life back together. In any case, you’ll have faced the truth, and acted on it. Many over the centuries have given up their lives for truth — are you unwilling to face the comparatively mild embarrassment of having been wrong?
Not only does it not become easier: A lie never becomes the truth. Waiting won’t make it better. Do you really want the karmic burden of dedicating your lives to falsehoods? I don’t care how comfortable and settled you are at the compound. You came, many of you, for the pearl of great price. Are you really willing to settle for a plastic bead and knowing, cynical jokes that show you are complicit with your own bamboozlement (not to mention complicit with sexual slavery, exploitative labor, and spiritual fraud practiced on your “friends”)?
You’re right, #288 [post number]. Publicity does not serve this organization. Hence it’s under-the-radar recruitment practices. Facebook also exposes them to the world of former Shippers who are happy in their new lives, and found a spiritual rewards unknown to people who buffer the damage around them, and damage they have caused, with “the long Be”. Wikipedia is problematic — all those ex’s want their experiences included, too. Same with amazon reviews (have some of the ex-Shipper authors of the FOF books posted disclaimers? Hard to invalidate and erase the comments of the authors). It’s significant that the Facebook page is so closed to input. It only serves as a lure, and not a terrifically successful one — after all, only 2 people joined in the U.S. so far this year. Maybe the Greater Fellowship also needs a Facebook page.
Josianne [blogger], my comment remains: had your husband known what he knows now about the FOF — about the abusive sex, about money scams, about the personal erosion in his life — had he been able to read the newspaper articles or the internet stuff in the 1970s, he would not have joined. On some level, he knows that.
I’ll go back to my cave now.

1 comment:

  1. Just a though for those who care to consider:

    When I look at the picture of Robert in this post, it reminds me how odd the structure of his head and brow is. This always struck me to be unusual from day one and I think it added to the shock of the whole FOF experience. In retrospect he looks neanderthal like and the description of Hitlers "Master Race" which by Hitlers logic of history was a race of humans that mated with angels.

    In recent times, there is so much information coming out about how what were called gods and or angels were actually "Extraterrestrials." ( in my opinion, since they mated with humans, maybe they should be called "Extratesticles), but I digress(Just had to add a bit of humor in there).....

    Anyway, I don't know about everyone else, but I personally had along with others that were close to me in the FOF, very unusual experiences, that were attributed to "C" influence. Looking back it wouldn't surprise me of RB was in some way connected to a controlling force,either consciously or unconsciously (excuse the expression conscious) a force that a lot of historians, that are investigating such matters call; extraterrestrial influences (EI). These investigators say the the EI guide such people like Jim Jones of Jonestown and possibly RB. They call them the "Tricksters" because they use certain people as leaders or tyrants to believe they can predict the future and even allow them to think they have special powers. Eventually they lead them to crash and burn in some way. In the meantime that take sincere people who are seeking truth and mislead them using so called conscious teachings, that are what Socrates said: "The truth with a little lie in it." So it is my feeling that what RB called "C" Influence is actually a non-benevolent influence.

    Now you might be asking two questions by now:

    Q. Have I gone off the deep end?

    A. Well maybe and I don't care if that is what others think'

    Q.If it is true about(EI), What would be the purpose of this misdirection of truth to begin with?

    A. Because, think about it: Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people and everything in between. To think by praying, meditating or having good karma, that you have any control of what happens to you to of any significant degree is an illusion. So why do we as humans along with every other life form on this planet exist?

    You folks may think RB is a fake and I agree, but I still see no evidence to the contrary that we are not machines. By virtue of that as well as other things,if we are machines, then who we are was set in motion by something that created us to serve and behave as machines. It is as though we are a "Rat Experiment." When researchers do these experiments they expect the rats to behave as rats and not question the experimenters. But if the rats did, then they would no longer be useful to the experimenters and getting s piece of cheese for a job well done would not be on their menu.

    It is my opinion that all life on this planet is merely a genetic repository for a more advanced race, for a purpose yet to be discovered and that they control the ridiculous political results and the leaders of this world, just enough to keep us from completely destroying ourselves. If they so choose to destroy us all that can and they have to make way for a new design for what we call humans as well as other creatures. If we start to wake up to this knowledge, they will throw anything in our way to misdirect us, including people like Robert.

    Now maybe you think that what I have just said is way off, but I can say one thing: If you think that there is no such thing as UFO's and extraterrestrials that have and still are visiting us, then you are misinformed.