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.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A loss in the "life family"

[ed. - Robert Burton instructed followers to sever unnecessary ties with "life people," including family who were not Fellowship members. He often cited his own "work" in this area by recounting his hospital visit with his critically ill mother. On that occasion, despite the obvious suffering it imposed upon her, he refused to break his self-imposed task of silence.]

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 2, 2012:
Apparently, Robert Burton’s sister Betty passed away November 21st:
Betty Joyce Burton
[ed. - Link at now defunct]
Born in Arkansas on Jul.7, 1930
Departed on Nov. 21, 2012 and resided in Redwood City, CA.
Visitation: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012  8:30 am
Mass & Christian Burial: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 11:00 am, Holy Cross Cemetery
Betty J. Burton
1930 – 2012
Our loving sister Betty passed on the morning of November 21st following a battle with pneumonia. She was predeceased by her domestic partner of 50 years, Lawrence (Larry) Geraldi (2007).
Due to wartime shortage of workers, Betty began her lifetime restaurant career at age 14. She attended Berkeley High School then settled in San Francisco where she worked with Larry in his restaurants, most notably the Domino Club and later, at Salutos in Burlingame.
Betty is survived by her sister, Frances Carter, brothers, Robert and William (Clara), nine nephews and their extended families and Cora Cruz, her dear friend, affairs and care manager.
Arrangements are done by Duggan’s Serra Mortuary, 500 Westlake Ave., Daly City where viewing will be held on Wednesday, Nov.28th at 8:30 am and the Mass of Christian Burial at Holy Angels Church at 11am followed by Committal at Holy Cross Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the American Red Cross.
Robert mentioned Betty during a meeting September 21, 2011.

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 2, 2012:

WhaleRider [blogger],

What struck me in Betty’s obituary was to see Robert referred to merely as a family member, not a god, not a “conscious being,” and to see actual names of family members he devalued as “life people.” It just seemed so ordinary. Another peek at the wizard behind the curtain.

For someone considered by his followers the most important being on the planet, except for the few anecdotes he has volunteered about his encounters with “C Influence,” precious little is known of Burton’s pre-Fellowship personal history. Yet, as someone mentioned (not you Someone, but maybe you WhaleRider), these early years likely had a profound influence upon the future cult leader.

When he mentioned Betty last year, it was the first time I heard of him referring to a sibling by name, actually acknowledging their existence.

Many of us followed his example, and early exercise, breaking off contact with our “life families.” (At the same time, while Robert clearly distanced himself from his family, Fellowship students were called upon to provide his mother various services – housekeeping, gardening, delivery, etc. – when she resided in Sacramento.)

So now we have Velma [sic - Velma E.] Shock, Betty, Frances, William. As far as I know, for us, his father’s identity remains a mystery.

"jomopinata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 7, 2012:
According to the 1940 census record of Mineral Township, Pulaski County, Arkansas, Bobbie Burton’s parents were Velma E. Burton (32) and Edgar Burton (34). The children listed in the 1940 census are Bettie (10), Billie (8), Fannie B (5) and Bobbie (1/2). The record list Edgar’s occupation as stock dealer, and indicate that the the family owns a farm.

In subsequent posts, "jomopinata" added:
According to the 1940 census record of Cook County, Illinois, Alexander Horn (10) is listed as an inmate of the Marks Nathan Jewish Orphan Home, South Albany Avenue, Chicago.

I take Edgar’s occupation of “stock dealer” to refer to livestock, which lines up neatly with the “butcher” information that was published somewhere.

By the time Horn was 10, he had lived at the orphanage for five years, according to the census record.

An article about Alexander Francis Horn, then five years old, appeared in the Chicago Tribune on February 9, 1935. The child Horn was alleged to have spread the alarm for a fire that broke out in his home.

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