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, 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:

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.]

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