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.")

But 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.

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 from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated) Fellowship Wikipedia page, 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, November 1, 2011

A look back at Lady B's story

[ed. - This sounds like such a typical Fellowship of Friends story.]

"Lady B" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 29, 2007 at 10:57 p.m.:
I am still in the school but I am not a student anymore.
I joined the school 20 years ago with all my heart.
I survived several of the school’s big intervals, when Influence C was “shaking the tree.”
When other students left, I never wanted to know the reason. Each time, some “good student” or center director would act as a filter, saying that the student left because their instinctive center didn’t want to pay any more or because their American puritanical morality made Robert’s sex life into an excuse for leaving.
After a year in the school, a friend of mine left, and before she did she told me that her friend had a relationship with Robert. It was a bad experience, and he left in shock. I was actually relieved to hear that Robert was gay. I’d already been in a group where the teacher was gay. In a second group, where the teacher was straight, and very interested in women, his “wife” had me kicked out because she imagined I was having an affair with him.
In the FOF, I lost a husband, a house, and a lot of money that I didn’t have and don’t have, but none of that bothered me enough to make me leave. Robert has never spoken to me directly — I don’t have money, I’m not rich, I’m a woman. I’m not an artist or actor. I don’t have blue blood or a name of noble origin. So, my role in the school — according to other students — is to pay. That’s my role and for many years I’ve been paying my teaching payment.
I began reading this blog and the letters sent to me by ex-students. I told myself that I’ve been in the school so long that I wouldn’t hear anything bad enough to change my mind, my desire, or my love for Robert.
It didn’t take long to realize that I hadn’t been aware of the level of suffering that many students endured. When Elena wrote, it was as if she read my heart. Now I understand why friends who became Robert’s lovers are so depressed and unable to have a full emotional life. I’ve seen mothers who are happy that their sons were chosen to be Robert’s lovers, and encouraged them not to lose the opportunity to experience higher levels with an angel.
At Isis [Apollo, Renaissance, etc.], children are the last concern. In fact, a friend who doesn’t have children told me, “I think that Isis needs an orphanage.” I was shocked and offended.
I believed that I was helping to build a new civilization, not supporting and paying for all this suffering. I can’t be an accomplice any more. This isn’t the school I was looking for. I’ve learned a lot, but at a very high price. I have a conscience — someone might call it feminine dominance, but I don’t care. All those years I’ve pushed down that inner screaming voice, and had — as many others have — health consequences.
I want to leave the school without a fuss, the way I came, but I want to give a warning to potential students so they have an idea of what they’re getting into. If this blog was available to me 20 years ago, I probably would have made a different decision.
Someone said — I wish I could remember who — that you can see the level of civilization in a country by looking at the way they treat children and old people. Elena, you’re right: I don’t recognize the same Ark that I boarded 20 years old.
During these 20 years, I’ve met some wonderful people, and leaving those friends is going to be a much bigger payment than I’ve ever made. I’m sorry, and I love you.

[ed. - Siddiq, a sincere Fellowship supporter, responds. The more you read this blog, the more you will see Siddiq's protestations ring hollow.]

"Siddiq" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 30, 2007 at 12:27 a.m.:
To Lady B who wrote:
So, my role in the school — according to other students — is to pay. That’s my role and for many years I’ve been paying my teaching payment.
I am very sorry for you (no doubt many on this blog will applaud your decision to leave but not me) as you have apparently for many years accepted what you believed your fate should be–I hope for you that your experience included more than just being somebody who pays.
You see, I do not know any mothers who applaud their sons being Robert’s lovers (there are very few mothers in the Fellowship whose sons are Robert’s lovers–this cannot possibly be more than a handful, at most as there are few such families in the School).
I also do not see the depressed students and people unable to have an emotional life (I assume you do, so there must be more than just paying money in your life) any more so than anywhere else outside of Isis or the Fellowship.
I also do not know of anyone of nobility, blue blood, or artistic talent here that gets special treatment. The artists here pay, in many ways, as all do, and as the universe exacts from us, whether we are in or out of the School.
Finally, children appear to me healthy and well adjusted, not mistreated, not in any danger. There are hundreds and their parents (of which I am one and I assume you are too, which makes me wonder why we have never connected or if we did why you never spoke out against the abuse you perceived). Do you believe they are worse off here than let’s say in some big city with all its problems?
Good luck to you.


  1. Woah, you are out of line there editor with your introduction remark for Siddiq's post...makes this blog look very subjective, I guess it is..
    Thank you Siddiq for some relativity, always good to hear the other side of a story.


  2. Peter,

    Excluding a small percentage of members who died while still in the cult, well over 90% of those who joined the Fellowship are no longer members. This, despite Robert Burton's warning that leaving the Fellowship would mean losing all chance of further "awakening" and guidance from the gods, and that anyone who leaves will become "food for the moon," and it would be better those persons were never born. In short, they are condemned to hell.

    Since he has often spoken such "truths," I trust you have heard him say these things.

    Perhaps you and Siddiq should expand your survey's sampling. Were you to do so, you might find Lady B's story more credible.

    Tim Campion

  3. My remark was not 'pro' FOF Tim, you're reaction bypasses the subject of my post and you are immediately trying to convince me of your subjective truths....It's an endless discussion and I am sure that there will always be disagreement, "expanding the survey sampling' ...well that's a good thought, something to keep n mind for me as well as for you...but reality is that minds are fixed and in general not very flexible, you had your experience and therefore your opinion is set, same goes for me.
    Therefore these kind of discussions make no sense to me, and to many others who are somewhat more 'positive ' about the fof, and so overtime it has become a very 'partisan' platform...The only thing I wanted to point out is; that it is kind of weird that if one posts something, as Siddiq did, the editor places an introductionary comment belittling her comments.....With a policy like that any form of discussion is discouraged.


  4. I view this blog as part compendium, part Op-Ed. As a compendium, it's an excellent resource. As Opinion-Editor, it is assumed that Tim has his point of view and he is presenting the material with those views. That shouldn't prevent someone from disagreeing, such as you have done.

    I disagree with Siddiq's comment, where they say, "I also do not know of anyone of nobility, blue blood, or artistic talent here that gets special treatment. The artists here pay, in many ways, as all do, and as the universe exacts from us, whether we are in or out of the School." My experience in the FOF was that some of the students who came from affluent or politically influential backgrounds were given more deference or were allowed to sit at REB's table or with him at concerts. It was kiss-up behavior that exists everywhere in humanity. The FOF was no exception, and neither was/is REB.