Introduction


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 2007) Fellowship of Friends 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, March 20, 2013

Parallels with the People's Temple?

Robert Earl Burton (R. E. Burton), Fellowship of Friends Living Presence cult leader and dandy, Apollo, Oregon House, CA
"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 20, 2013:
All statements in this post are my own opinions only.

This post is a refinement of one I made not too long ago. I repeat it as a warning to active members of the FOF who may be reading this blog. How many of you do and how often is unknown, but certainly some do and this warning, in various forms and from various writers, needs to be posted frequently. So please read on, this message may save your life.

A bit dramatic, you say? Maybe, but the stakes are high.

Perhaps you feel strong in your commitment to Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends. Perhaps you also feel safe; after all, your life is in the hands of a conscious being led by angels – what could be safer than that? Doesn’t Burton devote his time and energy to your evolution and spiritual welfare, isn’t that what he has told you, isn’t that what older students and those all around you believe?

I once believed all those things until the truth opened my eyes.

Consider this post from shardofoblivion on page 135:
74. shardofoblivion – January 25, 2013

A metaphysical Ark? I can just imagine his [Shard is referring to Asaf Braverman] inner glow because he is privy to the secret knowledge that in actual fact “C influence” have invited him aboard their very physical Ark, currently moored miles from the sea at Oregon House, in order that he should survive armageddon. O lucky him.
A metaphysical Ark?

Exactly. This is the dangerous vision members of the FOF should hope Robert Burton never has.

I have no contact with active FOF members so anything I surmise about the current status of the group is mainly gleaned from this blog and other internet resources...

Apparently Burton is continuing to promote his long term “vision” that the FOF is meant to serve as a literal, physical Ark to preserve the best of human culture for the survivors of a post apocalyptic world.

But what if real world failure and the stresses of illness and aging prompt a different conclusion?

Previously I noted the horrible possibility that Burton could decide to destroy himself and take others with him (Tempus Fugit – June 22, 2012, page 121, post 96).

Does this still sound far fetched? I again recall Jim Jones and the People’s Temple cult. For a full version (although only one) of the People’s Temple story, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown

In the middle 1960′s the People’s temple was based in Indiana, but Jones got the idea that the group needed to move to Northern California to find a safe place to survive an imminent nuclear holocaust (FOF oldtimers will note a familiar refrain).

The People’s Temple settled in San Francisco, where Jones established himself as a forward looking social activist lauded by mainstream leaders such as Mayor George Moscone and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. Over time, however, his association with political radicals and mistreatment of his own followers attracted unfavorable attention.

Among other things Jones was sexually active with both male and female members of the group, and used such activity to increase his control over his followers. (is there an echo on this blog?)

On the eve of the publication of a major expose in New West Magazine Jones fled to Guyana, where the group had established a colony named after Jones.

According to Wikipedia it was in Jonestown that “Jones began his belief called Translation where he and his followers would all die together and move to another planet and live blissfully.”

Here, in my opinion, are parallels to statements made by Robert Burton that are absolutely creepy.

“Ollie” (page 113 of this blog, post 135, September 26, 2011), reported words allegedly spoken by Robert Burton on September 21, 2011:
We are destined for immortality – eternal life – and this is what makes Paradise so sweet: it is a deathless place. Also, everyone is conscious and immortal there. Here everyone is mortal and unconscious, except for us. 
(When I was an FOF member Burton said only he was “conscious,” and a lucky few might join him after a lifetime of hard work – looks like nowadays all of you have made it – congratulations! – maybe.)
In Jonestown Jim Jones became increasingly strange and autocratic. Relatives back in the America began to escalate complaints to the U.S. government of mistreatment of their family members by Jones and his lieutenants.

A delegation led by U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan came to Guyana to investigate. While Ryan was there, a number of individuals and families approached him and asked for help to leave Jonestown. Jones reacted to the defections by concluding his utopian dream had failed and the full weight of the US government would soon fall on Jonestown and destroy the People’s Temple.

After some of his followers shot and killed Congressman Ryan, and killed and wounded others in Ryan’s party, Jones orchestrated the infamous mass murder for which he will always be known.

As I’ve written before, upon hearing news of the killings many of us in the FOF at the time were naturally concerned. Burton was asked if this could happen to the FOF, and I personally heard him deny it on the patio of the Lincoln Lodge right after the Jonestown news reached America.

After all, Burton said, the FOF is a real school while the People’s Temple was just another “B influence” group. Since “C influence” was guiding the FOF they would protect the group from such harm.

Well, personally I think Burton’s fantasies about “C influence” protection are just that, fantasies. What happened to the People’s Temple could certainly happen to the FOF. Perhaps unlikely, but certainly possible.

My best guess now is that Burton will die quietly. He is evidently getting everything he wants, and, according to recent posts on this blog, is setting up his followers to expect his spiritual guidance after his death.

But what if, like Jim Jones, Burton’s world falls apart. Perhaps declining membership leads to critical money problems. Perhaps government investigations attract the unwanted attention of powerful people or lawsuits bring public denunciation and disgrace. Perhaps Burton’s health fails with some painful, lingering disease. Perhaps impotence puts an end to his allegedly promiscuous lifestyle.

So Burton – sick, weak, and in pain, desperate to create an ending worthy of his supreme narcissism – suddenly re-imagines the ARK. A message, perhaps similar to the one below, is broadcast to members around the world:

“Dear friends, C-influence has humbled me and shown me my error. The ARK we have built is real, but not of this gross, material world. It is a Metaphysical Ark, standing pristine and incorruptible, waiting for us – just a short step away.

Tonight I will take that step, will you join me?”

In Jonestown people killed each other and even their own children at their leader’s command.

I wonder how many Fellowship students would take their own lives to follow Burton to the grave?

And the children?

"Anna Tudor" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 21, 2013:
To me Burton’s promiscuity is not “alleged”; my ‘husband was one of his consorts and he told me that on Burton’s 60th birthday Burton received a ‘treat’ of 60 boys. You can imagine that this was more than just a logistic nightmare…

[ed. - To see some of the curiosities brought to rural Oregon House, CA as part of "Robert's Ark", see this video of The Fellowship of Friends "Camelot" and the website Apollo Camelot.]

Monday, March 18, 2013

Forsake verification: The Fellowship of Friends as religion

[ed. - The following was originally posted by Ames Gilbert. The posters "I in the Sky" and "Daily Cardiac" referred to in Ames' post are purportedly former Fellowship of Friends President Linda K.]
 
"fofblogmoderator" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 18, 2013:
From an earlier page
“Any explorer coming to this page should be easily able to see what happens so often if one joins the Fellowship of Friends and takes the ever-changing whims of Robert Earl Burton, the psychotic leader, to heart. So, I’m speaking to you.

You have the opportunity right here that is hidden from you if you attend the “introductory meetings”, the opportunity to peek behind the scripted theatrical performance put on to you by actors who have rehearsed the scene times beyond counting.

You have the opportunity to meet and learn from one of the finest minds in the Fellowship, a representative sent out to battle with the forces of evil who manifest on this blog. You have the opportunity to engage, yourself, right here, if you are reading this while the page is current. I personally don’t know anything about the entity called, “I in the Sky”. But I can assure you, dear explorer, that I know a great deal in general, and I can give you some guidance about her motivations. This is because I was once an explorer just like you, seeking to find some answers to life’s Big Questions, just as you are. I was hoping for guidance on how to live my life more fully, how to bring some meaning to it that was missing. I was looking for some explanations that did not demand blind faith, that would engage much more of me than was required by conventional religions, that would be more practical than the output of western philosophy, no matter how closely argued.
Perhaps you are like I was, drawn to the Fourth Way, and hoping, like I did, that somehow there was a branch of it that yet still lived and that I would come to meet it.

So, I was ripe when I found a Fellowship of Friends bookmark in London in 1978. I was thrilled to go to the introductory meetings and engage with people who had apparently found some of the answers. And I felt lucky beyond measure when it seemed that I had stumbled upon a living branch of the Fourth Way, an heir and descendant of the System propounded by Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.

My friend (I think I can call you that because we may have a lot in common already), I joined, and stayed in the organization for sixteen years. So I write from considerable experience. Not as much, of course, as some. The Fellowship of Friends has been going since 1971, and there some who have been there twenty, thirty and even forty years. But I was there sixteen years, quite enough, more than enough, to thoroughly observe the organization from many viewpoints. I was not a casual onlooker, I took the opportunity seriously, and my membership was the central point of my life. I’ve written a great deal about the results of that experience on these pages.

Many of the bloggers on this page have similar backgrounds and experiences. We joined, were mesmerized for a while, learned, and left. Please value our efforts and the time we have spent trying to reach people like you. I know this is a huge blog; we are here on the 132nd page, and some of the earlier pages had six hundred entries! It is an enormous amount to wade through. But the common thread running through all these pages is the warning: Stay Away. There are arguments and counter-arguments, and you’ll come to recognize some of the Fellowship of Friends representatives, become familiar with their tone, and you’ll be able to note their shallowness and obfuscation, and how ultimately they have changed from being explorers with open minds, as I was and I hope you are, to pawns in a charlatan’s fantasy.

So, right now, please pay close attention to “I in the Sky”, who formerly posted as “Daily Cardiac” in previous pages. This is a chance to see the workings of the hive mind, the groupthink that has become the guiding philosophy behind the Fellowship of Friends. And ponder the immense changes that must have occurred to someone like I in the Sky. She thought she was joining an organization based on the Fourth Way, which has a core principle, “Verify everything”. Question everything. Get down to the bedrock, where do all one’s ‘beliefs’ come from, how are we conditioned, what is of value in our mentation, how can we learn to disregard the rubbish, what in us is reliable, and how can we nurture it. She started out the same as you and I. Yet, during the course of her long membership, she has turned into the completely opposite direction, and proudly defends and even prosetylizes a religion. A religion with a leader, a messiah, an object of worship, Robert Burton, who proclaims himself a living god.

And, get this. She thinks she is headed in the same direction as the day when she joined! She literally has no idea about the changes she has made in herself, how she has twisted her mind to force herself to think that Burton’s religious organization is the same as the Fourth Way ‘school’ that she thought she had joined. In a word, she is mentally ill.

So, observe closely this product of Robert Burton’s school. If you join, you will be under the influence of people like her and Burton, and soon you will be thoroughly immersed in the group fantasy, and you too will be headed in the opposite direction without realizing it. You too will have to bury your conscience, subject yourself to the whims of the madman Burton, give up your reason, your money, your time, your chances of individuation, and if you are a young attractive male, your body for his sexual gratification.

Why, in heaven’s name, would you want to do that?

"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 16, 2013:
In response to:

“177. Nevasayneva [post number and poster] – January 10, 2013 [page134]
People who write in these pages have had a lot of experience of FOF – the good, the bad and the ugly. 
People must also have experience of putting it behind them and moving on. 
I don’t see it so much.”
Thanks, Nevasayneva, I’ve been wanting to talk more to the topic of recovery.

In the end, my experience in the FOF was highly traumatic.

You see, as I’ve said a few times and even recently, I was a TRUE BELIEVER.

I accepted fully that Burton was a “conscious being” and I had been blessed to find the “Teaching of the Age.” For the first few years I lived in this generally satisfying delusion.

Life got increasingly stressful and unhappy during this time but I did my honest best to handle my life and make my membership in the FOF work. I hoped my efforts would gain the “Teacher’s” attention and I might be invited into some more prominent role that would establish the I had entered the “Inner Circle” and was clearly on track to “create a soul” and achieve “immortality.”

That dream never materialized. Instead, I struggled more and more to support myself and make my “teaching payments.” But I couldn’t keep up. Eventually I ran out of money and was prohibited from attending meetings. One day soon after I was so far behind in “teaching payments” that I crossed the invisible line between member and ex-member, one day still in by a thread and the next day out.

No one pleaded for me to return. No recognition of my years of hard work or payments was given. I was simply out.

I felt this as a profound personal failure. I was sure, as Burton had guaranteed, that “C influence” would arrange a horrible fate for me.

One of the lowest points of my post FOF life, and a turning point, came just a few months later. When I left I lost contact with everyone in the group except for two close friends. Many members at that time took the “no contact with ex-students” very seriously.

So in an attempt to rebuild my life I called up “life” friends not seen in years (and tried to make new ones). One friend, who lived out of state, invited me to visit. Getting getting out of town and having some fun with an old friend sounded great so I booked a flight.

But on travel day my mood turned anxious. Constantly in the near background of my mind was Burton’s sadistic curse. As the plane taxied on the runway I was seized with panic. Clearly the promised punishment was about to be delivered. I looked around the plane with horror. Not only would the plane crash and kill me, but all these innocent men, women, and children would die too. Die because I had failed the “Conscious Teacher” of the “Teaching of the Age.”

Now, with the perspective of time and maturity, I’m amazed I really believed such nonsense, but then again, it makes perfect sense. As I said, I was a “true believer,” and took the “teaching” as it was presented, a matter of life and death.

Well, of course the plane didn’t crash. My friend greeted me warmly when I arrived, and the Light inside burned through the shell of Burton crud and announced Itself. My Spirit lived, as did my personal direct connection with God. The FOF delusion was cracked.

Sometime soon thereafter I connected with Stella Wirk and other old friends who were now “ex-students” (i.e., regular people!). Through them I found out the truth about Robert Burton that anyone can read in these pages.

But a few conversations were not enough to get well. The depth of deception Burton had perpetrated, my own naivete in believing his lies, the loss of a decade of youthful life, the loss of outside friends, the loss of many opportunities for timely education and professional growth, the pain caused to my family, the shame I felt at having proudly proclaimed my wonderful new spiritual life now crushed with the truth of the horror and degeneracy of the cult.

Perhaps that last sentence was not too elegant, but many of you know what I mean.

And I had to take responsibility for my own life and choices regardless. My personality and predispositions are what I brought to the table. Burton is not responsible for who I am – he is responsible for taking advantage of my youthful idealism and honest spiritual aspirations.

Many people say that no suffering is lost if we are capable of transforming it. I believe this is true, but sometimes that process takes decades and lots of hard work, support, and personal honesty.

This blog provides some of that support, and I am grateful for all of you who are willing to share. I hope my comments have helped some of you in return.

"Just Another Voice Out Here" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 8, 2008:
194 brucelevy [post number and blogger]
196 somebody

When a person believes–or even accepts as a “theory”–the sort of nonsense illustrated in #196 and so many other similar posts, there are a limited number of possibilities. The person may be a young child. It’s perfectly normal that, before a certain age, a child believes in a literal Santa Claus, or that the moon is made of green cheese. It’s charming, in fact. He may have brain damage or be otherwise mentally impaired, such that he is not capable of consistently thinking rationally. He may be mentally ill, with similar effect.

Or he may have adopted his mental attitude, whether one of actual belief or of a refusal to acknowledge patent absurdity when it stares him in the face, as a result of religious conviction.

Ever read one of those Hare Krishna versions of the Bhagavad Gita that used to be handed out at airports years ago (well, handed out followed by a demand for a donation)? The ones with the brightly-colored illustrations of Lord Krishna playing his flute for the gopis? Some of those illustrations beautifully portrayed things that were so fantastic that I felt compelled to ask the Hare Krishna devotee “c’mon, tell me, for real–do you believe this is literally true?” And you know what he would always say.

It’s the same thing that millions of devoted Christians will say if asked whether they really believe that Jesus literally rose from the dead, or turned water into wine, etc. Because if you follow the religion, by definition you believe the dogma–otherwise that’s not your religion.

Religions of this sort are not looking for people who approach such assertions rationally or analytically. There’s no no place for that, it’s in fact counterproductive. A priest of such a religion has no reason to be rational; the whole purpose of putting irrational statements out there for consumption is to separate the wheat–devoted followers, who are welcome–from the chaff–people who insist upon rationality, who are not welcome.

There’s a reason for this that predates the conversion of these religions into self-perpetuating money-making machines. These religions were formed around certain methods. Christians believe that with prayer, anything is possible. Hare Krishnas are absolutely confident that chanting will lead to unity with Lord Krishna. Both are true, if practiced with sufficient devotion and persistence. That’s what Gurdjieff quaintly referred to as the “way of the monk,” and as he said, it’s a legitimate way.

The Fellowship has morphed over the years into a full-blown religion. One difference between the Fellowship and any of these other religions is that mainstream Christianity, for example, doesn’t pretend that its dogma is verifiable. In fact, it expects true followers to vehemently insist the dogma is true notwithstanding the impossibility of ever proving any of it. It’s a test of a follower, and a point of pride. As the Christian Church interprets Jesus’ teachings, having faith only in what makes sense is unimpressive–it isn’t faith at all. A real Christian believes in the impossible.

The Fellowship, to attract people who are religious followers at heart but can’t quite shake their Western belief in rationality (or the belief that true uncritical faith is somehow shameful), tells these people that they must not believe the dogma uncritically, they must verify everything. This effectively puts to sleep that critical faculty, since many people don’t really want to verify, but don’t want to admit to themselves that they lack the energy, courage, or mental independence to actually do it. The follower may now tell himself he is not in a religion, does not have faith, but verifies everything, as he bleats along with the herd.

Another difference is that the true “way of the monk” cultivates faith and worship of a diety for a practical purpose. The methods of these religions is to develop one-pointed concentration, whether through repetition of the Hare Krishna mantra or the Jesus prayer (in the Eastern Orthodox Church) or the image of the crucified Jesus, because when developed sufficiently, one-pointed concentration does produce an altered state of consciousness. The theory is that the end justifies the means–if the end is an experience of blissful oneness, there’s no harm telling fairy tales that help the devotee develop the necessary focus on the mantra or image.

The Fellowship tries to mix devotion to Robert Burton and similarly absurd dogma with a method–being present–that does not lead to, and is not designed to lead to, the one-pointed concentration that is the goal of devotion-based religions. The practices that “self-remembering” were based on, which have been central to Buddhism for over two thousand years, are designed to allow the practitioner to see things as they are, rather than to create a blissful altered state. So Fellowship dogma is counterproductive in the context of the method. It’s a predictable result of a deeply flawed leader, who has invented his methods and dogma as he went along, to serve his personal ends.

In any event, trying to discuss the Fellowship rationally with a devotee is exactly as productive as trying to debate with a Hare Krishna devotee whether Krishna really has blue skin, or trying to talk a devoted Christian into acknowledging that Jesus did not literally walk on water.

[ed. - For some who have experienced  The Fellowship of Friends and since moved on, it becomes clear that even as the outer form of Burton's so-called "conscious school" changes, the regimen of mind control remains consistent. They may recognize their own earlier naivete in this sincere follower's words.]

"Siddiq" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 2, 2007:
[Responding to] Tim Campion #724, Whalerider #729

I am not taking issue with your understanding which I am sure is valid for you in light of your history in the school, so please do not see this as opposite thinking.

For most in the school for more than the last decade, the sheer quantity of significant changes in direction of the teaching does not allow for settled beliefs and dogmas, yet this is something frequently assumed by those who have been gone for some time.

The school has rapidly evolved (I realize some will say “devolved”) in the last 15 years I have been here, and for example the idea of “44 conscious beings” has been left behind, and many new “conscious beings” are being studied (for example Rumi the great poet) without any numbering system, as well as many other changes.

So I think that there are few students now who will simply take everything Robert says as gospel to be “believed” (which would not go anywhere, I agree) but rather, people act from deeply realized and understood verifications–and as in the days of Ouspensky–the importance of our personal understanding and verification for what we are doing can hardly be overemphasized.

True, a number of ideas come out that no one, perhaps not even Robert, can verify, let alone prove, but this part of the Fellowship is currently so far removed from what we are doing, that it quite irrelevant even as these ideas continue and either inspire one or leave one indifferent.

I am writing this not to convince anyone of anything here and I am sure that this post will be ridiculed as I have before, but I feel it is important for me to share that this is what is going on as I see it.

I can understand your point of view, Whalerider, as well as Tim’s, but to me and I believe for many students, your speculations about Robert’s level of being are quite unimportant, as there exists a deeply held and understood verification what needs to be done, in my personal work–this is quite independent of anything Robert says or does not say about what cannot be verified.

I am sad that I cannot do justice to fully explaining (may be it simply cannot be done in this forum) how I believe the school works at this time–a time, when even being present during meetings with for example the Dinosour droppings (just to mention something that appears so totally ridiculous in this blog) feeds one’s work, even without being able to verify. And I am the first to admit that this is not always 100% of the time, far from it. A lot of the time, I spent puzzled or worse too!

I think the reason is that this seemingly contradictory teaching can work is because what is going on inside is truly more important now than what is going on externally…and then the whole picture changes as Ouspensky says.

It is a lot like being in love. You know you can move mountains, there is no doubt, and each moment is glorious. Is this not what we want?

Good luck to us all

Siddiq

Friday, March 8, 2013

Parallels between Scientology and The Fellowship of Friends

"Scientology doesn't really address the soul; it addresses the ego."  
- L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. (son of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard)



[ed. - The following is from a 1983 Penthouse Magazine interview with L. Ron Hubbard, Jr.]
Hubbard: We promised them the moon and then demonstrated a way to get there. They would sell their soul for that. We were telling someone that they could have the power of a god --that's what we were telling them.

Penthouse: What kind of people were tempted by this promise?

Hubbard: A whole range of people. People who wanted to raise their IQ, to feel better, to solve their problems. You also got people who wished to lord it over other people in the use of power. Remember, it's a power game, a matter of climbing a pyramidal hierarchy to the top, and it's who you can step on to get more power that counts. It appeals a great deal to neurotics. And to people who are greedy. It appeals a great deal to Americans, I think, because they tend to believe in instant everything, from instant coffee to instant nirvana. By just saying a few magic words or by doing a few assignments, one can become a god. People believe this. You see, Scientology doesn't really address the soul; it addresses the ego. What happens in Scientology is that a person's ego gets pumped up by this science-fiction fantasy helium into universe-sized proportions. And this is very appealing. It is especially appealing to the intelligentsia of this country, who are made to feel that they are the most highly intelligent people, when in actual fact, from an emotional standpoint, they are completely stupid. Fine professors, doctors, scientists, people involved in the arts and sciences, would fall into Scientology like you wouldn't believe. It appealed to their intellectual level and buttressed their emotional weaknesses. You show me a professor and I revert back to the fifties: I just kick him in the head, eat him for breakfast.

Penthouse: Did it attract young people as much as cults today?

Hubbard: Yes. We attracted quite a few hippies but we tried to stay a way from them, because they didn't have any money.

Penthouse: A poor man can't be a Scientologist?

Hubbard: No, oh no.

Penthouse: What do you think of the great popularity of cults in this country?

Hubbard: I think they're very dangerous and destructive. I don't think that anyone should think for you. And that's exactly what cults do. All cults, including Scientology, say, "I am your mind, I am your brain. I've done all the work for you, I've laid the path open for you. All you have to do is turn your mind off and walk down the path I have created." Well, I have learned that there's great strength in diversity, that a clamorous discussion or debate is very healthy and should be encouraged. That's why I like our political setup in the United States: simply because you can fight and argue and jump up and down and shout and scream and have all kinds of viewpoints, regardless of how wrongheaded or ridiculous they might be. People here don't have to give up their right to perceive things the way they believe. Scientology and all the other cults are one-dimensional, and we live in a three-dimensional world. Cults are as dangerous as drugs. They commit the highest crime: the rape of the soul.

Penthouse: Was this why you became disenchanted with Scientology?

Hubbard: It was the beginning. I began to see that my father was a sick, sadistic, vicious man. I saw more and more parallels between his behavior and what I read about the way Hitler thought and acted. I was realizing that my father really wanted to destroy his enemies and take over the world. Whoever was perceived as his enemy had to be destroyed, including me. This "fair game" policy since the beginning. The organization couldn't exist without it. It keeps people very quiet.

Penthouse: Do you mean killed?

Hubbard: Well, he didn't really want people killed, because how could you really destroy them if you just killed them? What he wanted to do was to destroy their lives, their families, their reputations, their jobs, their money, everything. My father was the type of person who, when it came to destruction, wanted to keep you alive for as long as possible, to torture you, punish you. If he chose to destroy you, he would love to see you lying in the gutter, strung out on booze and drugs, rolling in your own vomit, with your wife and children gone forever: no job, no money. He'd enjoy walking by and kicking you and saying to other people, "Look what I did to this man!" He's the kind of man who would pull the wings off flies and watch them stumble around. You see, this fits in with his Scientology beliefs, also. He felt that if you just died, your spirit would go out and get another body to live in. By destroying an enemy that way, you'd be doing him a favor. You were letting him out from under the thumb of L. Ron. Hubbard, you see?

[ed. - Just as L. Ron Hubbard discovered writing science fiction novels, Robert Burton found there was no fortune to be made in teaching primary school, or in giving tennis lessons, so he decided to create a religion. See also: The Fellowship enlists Scientology's private investigator to intimidate former members]

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 8, 2013:
I think anyone who participated in the Fellowship of Friends will find many parallels in Lawrence Wright’s recent book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief. Coincidentally, L. Ron Hubbard issued his “Flag Order 3434RB” in January 1974, when our very own RB, Robert Burton, was 34. The infamous order outlines punishments for infractions of his organization’s rules. Hubbard called his flagship the “Apollo,” the name Burton gave to his “ark.” Following 1977 FBI raids to uncover evidence of a Scientology plot to infiltrate government offices, Scientology began “a deliberate campaign to provide religious cloaking for the church’s activities.” The Fellowship of Friends incorporated as a non-profit a year later, and in 1980 issued its “Canons,” an obvious “religious cloaking” of the cult. For years, Scientology waged a war against the IRS after that agency “had ruled that the church was largely operated to benefit its founder.”
“I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t” – Hollywood director Paul Haggis, as quoted in Going Clear.

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 11, 2013:
Regarding my post above, it has been brought to my attention that two dates I quoted are incorrect. The Fellowship of Friends was incorporated as a non-profit in 1971 and the “Canons” were officially published in 1986, not 1980.

Thanks jp.

"Ollie" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 28, 2010:
An exciting day! Two mighty religious organisations, the Church of Scientology and the Fellowship of Friends, are locked in a head-to-head race today. Both are speeding ahead, going somewhere, nobody knows where. Who will get there first?
“The pace of the School has increased, and our being has increased because of it.” - The Fellowship of Friends (from “Daily Card”, April 28, 2010)

“When you do your Scientology Grades at Flag, you are in the center lane and the only road that leads to freedom, traveling full speed ahead.”
- Church of Scientology (from “Destination OT Flag” brochure.
(Looks like a Scientologist once lived at our address, almost every week a piece of CoS junk mail arrives at our doorstep…)

"Josiane" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 9, 2010:
Someone:

”…they [Scientology] put a lot of pressure especially with money.” And the Fellowship doesn’t?

About two years before I left (must have been around 2006) someone on the fundraising team had devised a very clever tool for a special item that was to be purchased for Robert’s dining events: rather than the team doing all the work, they came up with the idea of “delegating” the “effort”. The way it worked was that students would be approached (while waiting before events, such as meetings) and presented with a $500 donation form with the task of recruiting nine other students to volunteer to pay $50 each. I was approached by the most ferocious fundraiser that ever existed in FoF – A…..ne F..w. I tried to argue my way out but she was prepared and I wasn’t. I said: “What if I cannot recruit enough students to collect the $500.” “You will”, she said. “But what if I don’t,” I argued. “Then, you can make the entire donation yourself,” she said as she handed me the form. I ended up paying the $500 myself.

"veronicapoe" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2008:
Great Village Voice article written around interview with high-level celebrity Scientology defector Jason Beghe:

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0815,celebrity%20denoun,411801,2.html/full

“Scientology seduces you into thinking that it’s a process through which you can truly become yourself. But ultimately, what it turns you into is a Scientologist—a brainwashed version of yourself.”

"Peter" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 24, 2007:
Thank you JoelF for:

The Cult Test

Totally amazed by this “100 laws of the guru lead organization”.

Again thank you,

Peter

"Traveler" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 23, 2007:
From Fellowship of Friends prospective student meeting script, introduction to the first meeting: “We encourage you not simply to believe what you hear, but to listen without either accepting or rejecting what you hear. This will give you the best chance of verifying the truth of these ideas for yourself.”

This later becomes: “The sequence is undeniably objective truth, ancient knowledge possessed by esoteric schools in prehistory. We are one of the greatest schools in recorded history. Eighty billion people have passed through the Earth in a state of imagination, but ours is the good fortune to have been selected by Influence C to evolve. Students are on their seventh and eighth lifetimes, and at death, Influence C will place their souls in limbo to await conscious roles.”

From Scientology official site, front page, welcome text: “In Scientology no one is asked to accept anything as belief or on faith. That which is true for you is what you have observed to be true. An individual discovers for himself that Scientology works by personally applying its principles and observing or experiencing results.”

This later becomes: “You are an immortal thetan who has lived innumerable lifetimes on innumerable planets but are presently degenerated. Our technology will help you become clear and spiritually aware. Only our leader fully understands this new technology, this great new science of the mind. Non-scientologists are so brain-damaged, non-functional, and insane that they are hardly worth dealing with.”

The head thinks it is still verifying. The instinct, after some time, prefers to simply belong.

[ed. - Further information on Scientology:]
The Underground Bunker: Tony Ortega on Scientology

The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology

Scientology: CNN's 'A History of Violence'

Scientology and Paul Haggis: 'It's a cult'

BBC's "The secrets of Scientology"

Rolling Stone: 10 Things We Learned From Scientology Doc 'Going Clear'

New York Times Going Clear Book Review: Going Clear "Eyes Wide Shut"


Scientology Hit With Federal Fraud Lawsuit While It’s Still Reeling From Book Publicity

Phoenix Schools Under Fire For Program Linked To Scientology

Scientology's Applied Scholastics

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

North Fork Yuba River partnership formed

[ed. - The North Fork Yuba River business partnership will become a point of contention in the 2014 Board of Supervisors election, as partner Randy Fletcher runs against incumbent 5th District Supervisor Hal Stocker, and receives considerable political support from Fellowship of Friends members. During the election campaign intense criticism focused on the fact that, if elected, Fletcher would participate in deciding matters before the Board that could benefit the Fellowship in general, and his partners in particular.]

From North Yuba Grown Meeting minutes, March 6, 2013:
Freja and Roger checked to Bylaws to be sure a sitting member of the board could change their office. It was agreed that Article IV, Section 5 does allow for this change to be made.

The group voted and Jenny became Treasurer and Kim stayed Vice-Chair.

Agenda Item 5

– Wrap up presentation of Strategic Planning. – Steven (5 min)

Steven handed out an outline of the budget for the three committees (Publicity & Promotion, Community Outreach, Agritourism) and described their goals for 2013. The budget showed that in order to accomplish its goals, NYG needs $30,000 more than it expects to earn in 2013.

Steven acknowledged that the strategic plan is a work in progress and that NYG is going to look for members and sponsors which will offset the deficit somewhat. He noted that any funds we do acquire have already been allocated by the strategic plan.

Agenda Item 6

– North Fork Developments update. –Steven (10 min)

Steven reported that the North Fork Project has been a work in progress for the last 6 to 8 months. A corporation has been formed (North Fork Yuba River, Inc.) with two current objectives.

One is to create a coffee house, local food market, simple restaurant and very nice wine tasting room. The corporation is hoping to purchase the Willow Glen Restaurant as a venue, but will pursue other possibilities if the Willow Glen does not work out. Ideally this will be open for the upcoming season, but realistically it will be open sometime later this year.

The second objective is to develop Randy Fletcher’s chestnut orchard into a special events location. This will be operational by June, 2013. Steven plans to host the Local Art Food Wine lunches there every Saturday throughout the summer if the North Fork restaurant is not yet running. Steven mentioned that NYG can include the chestnut orchard as a venue for its Agritourism events.

North Fork Yuba River, Inc. is a collection of local people that want to help make these two businesses work. It includes Randy Fletcher, Katie Lee, David Lee and Charles Sharp. The corporation is looking for a couple more investors that can be good partners for making these businesses successful. Investments are at about $100,000.