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.

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:

”…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… 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:,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,


"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

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