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.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The true Fellowship of Friends legacy: a litany of pain and suffering

[ed. - Where appropriate, I have added links to related stories on the blog.]

"Bares Reposting" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 19, 2012:
[Quoting] 124/80. Tempus Fugit:
I admire him [Meher Baba] for what he did with his life in the outer world, how he treated other people, especially those who were sick, poor, and mentally ill. In my opinion, you can tell a lot about a person and a society by how they treat the helpless and the weak.

In fact, it’s very hard if not impossible to know for certain what’s in another person’s mind or heart, but their behavior is visible.
And so how do we evaluate Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends? What does their behavior tell us about who they are?’

Yes, witness the way FoF/REB treated those types of people:

Loosely alphabetically:

endless number of children put up for adoption or fostered.

endless number of children aborted.

endless number of rape victims.

endless number of women, spouses, shunned.

abraham g., fof lawyer, profoundly deaf, suicide.

anna t., spousal abuse.

barbara b. l., in her own words:
‘Students were not free to seek help from mental [health] professionals; many were becoming alcoholics, and we were, generally, living in a state of fear. I was told that these problems were my imagination and the fear was only in me. I snapped! I left the group – after 12 years. I felt helpless. I had no friends and was deeply in debt. I couldn’t explain the lost years. To the outside world a cult experience itself indicates a flawed mentality.’
bengt l., apparent suicide.

brian s., suicide.

dorothy b., alzheimer’s, elder abuse.

doris e., cripple, heart disease, elder abuse.

dorota s., just plain abuse.

elena h., blind, shunned.

eric e., suicide.

eric n., shunned.

gerda a., blind, shunned.

gloria c., elder abuse, shunned.

harold w., shunned.

james b., shunned.

john w., unexplained death in foreign land.

john e., parkinson’s, estate in question.

joseph m., alcohol abuse.

kevin k., quadriplegic, suicide. forced to give up job and home for 1998 fall of California prediction.

kimo b., possible suicide?

kiran s., severe car accident in foreign land but survived. had near death demand by fof lawyer to sign over estate.

cassandra s., severe car accident in foreign land but died.

daniella v., severe car accident in foreign land but died.

kristina n., shunned.

lori f-s., possible suicide?

nigel p., attempted suicide.

nette o., tortured by reb’s tastes.

raymond k., psychiatrist, death by drowning, suspicious circumstances.

renato c., suspicious death, possibly aids.

rourke m., alcohol abuse.

richard f., AIDS, died.

richard m., deaf, missing, presumed dead, suspicious circumstances.

sharole m. (a.k.a. sheila c.), during ill from injury, demand for teaching payments (donations); ‘hell letter.’ died 2 years later from cancer.

shelley m., spousal abuse.

stella w., shunned.

steven m., blind, shunned.

thomas n., shunned.

troy b., under age sex w/reb, rape, shunned.

see story below.

These are just examples one person knows about.

“Bares Reposting" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 8, 2011:

[Quoting] 111/184. Shirley

‘. . .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.

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