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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Trading wine for wine palms?

Palms line the roadway at the Fellowship of Friends Apollo Compound in Oregon House, CA

[ed. - A humorous discussion on the forum of the International Palm Society suggests The Fellowship of Friends was still, as of recently, attempting to barter with its surplus wine inventory, most likely in another attempt to circumvent tax laws. This Fellowship "practice" dates back to the 80s. Only if you fail in bartering, then pay cash.]

"Dooms Dave" wrote:
A while back, a religious sect had a winery up in Grass Valley [sic], and they wanted to adorn the grounds with Jubes [Jubaea chilensis, Chilean wine palms]. They also made a good sweet white wine, which they offered to trade for the Jubes. If you didn't want the wine they paid cash.

They bought A LOT of Jubes, of all sizes, up to big ones. They gave me a nice bit of cash for mine.
Dave continues:
After I sold almost all of my jubes at the time to them, someone told me that the Fellowship of Friends was a religious group that worshipped the Jubes or something like that. Not everyone was enamored of their acquisition of Jubes for that purpose, if that's what it was.

I can think of worse things to worship than Jubes . . .
 Then Dave uncovers the truth...
Beep, they sure sound like a cult, all right.

But, they had a bit of style, at least. That white wine (they gave me a few bottles) was good; Riesling, if I recall. Nice, crisp, sweet with a bite. Perfect with some white beans and some salmon.

"Oregon House, Calif.--Deep in the Sierra foothills, at the end of a twisting road, lies Apollo--an oasis of high culture in the outback. A mock French chateau houses a museum and library stuffed with rare art and books. A vineyard on terraced hillsides produces award-winning wines.

"Apollo is the worldwide headquarters of the Fellowship of Friends, whose 2,000 cerebral members believe that keen self-awareness, a positive outlook and immersion in life's finest things--from Baccarat crystal to Johann Sebastian Bach--offer a path to higher consciousness."

"They have been led on this journey for 25 years by Robert Earl Burton, a former schoolteacher who has guided everything from when his followers bear children to what sort of shoes they wear. Burton tells members he speaks with 44 angels who watch over his flock--among them Abraham Lincoln, Plato and Jesus Christ--believers say. Burton also has predicted that Apollo will be the lone surviving outpost after a global nuclear holocaust in 2006."

"Disillusioned former members say the fellowship is more than just another California curiosity. A growing number of them--as well as some academics--call it a cult that entraps its mostly well-educated members with a false promise of spiritual evolution. A recently ended lawsuit and accounts from ex-members echo that claim and add another: Burton, they say, has for years seduced young males in the group."

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