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) 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.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Fellowship of Friends' Apollo Arts seeks donations


[ed. - In this video, Ansley Braverman (wife of Asaf Braverman) invites the public to attend Apollo Arts summer performances, and appeals for donations. It must be remembered that The Fellowship of Friends, through tax-deductible "charitable donations," (a euphemism for mandatory payments from its membership) has lavished the cult's leader and his inner circle with a luxurious lifestyle few in Yuba County (or for that matter, almost anywhere) could imagine. It takes chutzpah for this organization to seek public donations to furnish Apollo Arts. From those who have traveled with him, it is well known that,
in a single day, Robert Burton can easily spend the $5,000 Apollo Arts is currently seeking. This is the same organization that has battled Yuba County over paying its share of taxes.

The Fellowship of Friends now sees crowdfunding as an opportunity to reach beyond the cult for donors. For a description of how Burton's own sheep are fleeced, see this post by Ames Gilbert.

Before we take too much pity on this humble acting troupe, let's look at an inventory of some of the real estate The Fellowship of Friends "church" owns. Keep in mind, the list below does not include assets such as the classical art collection, antique furnishings, jewelry, luxury cars, library collections, musical instruments, wine inventory, various vacation homes, off-shore bank accounts, investments, livestock, etc.]

"Mick Danger" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 22, 2008:
FOF owns 9 Parcels totaling 1,259 Acres Tax Value: $15,733,885

"Associated Press" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 22, 2008:
Regarding:

121. Mick Danger – August 21, 2008 [Above]

The Fellowship of Friends Inc. is listed as the owner of 9 parcels of land:

Tax Parcel 048-120-009; 159 Acres; Value $519,500
Tax Parcel 048-170-040; 224 Acres; Value $242,000
Tax Parcel 048-220-022; 60 Acres; Value $1,300,226
Tax Parcel 048-260-008; 3.1 Acres; Value $3,061,600
Tax Parcel 048-260-048; 76.5 Acres; Value $707,100
Tax Parcel 048-260-049; 3.3 Acres; Value $37,079
Tax Parcel 048-270-023; 473 Acres; Value $3,577,700
Tax Parcel 048-270-024; 5 Acres; Value $1,984
Tax Parcel 048-220-094; 256 Acres; Value $6,286,668

AG: Tax Parcel 048-260-053; 17 Acres; Value $420,642 [Abraham Goldman, Fellowship attorney]

~~~~~~~~~~

This is good information and is a matter of public record from Yuba County. If you use the county website you can learn a limited amount; like Assessor’s Parcel Number, name of owner, valuations, acreage, what property consists of, possibly if taxes are paid or not, etc. But, it does not appear that you can learn addresses, phone numbers, or locations by parcel map.

More importantly perhaps, and also should be a matter of public record, is the recorded documents associated with the property. That would include things like legal descriptions, mortgages, debt recordings, liens, judgments, as well as deed restrictions, parcel maps, survey maps, etc. That information is usually available through a title report and can be obtained via a title company, for a fee, of course.

Some things may seem amazing. Like the valuations for several on the list; they seem a bit low. Also, does this say that there is assessed value of over $10 million for FoF property? And, is FoF exempt from paying property taxes as a non-profit religious organization?
[ed. - The following table is taken from a Yuba County Municipal Securities offering.]


[ed. - The Apollo Arts Facebook page states, "Nestled in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California, our mission is to present the finest works of the classical repertoire in opera, music theatre and dance to all audiences." The "all audiences" is a new formulation. (See below)

Another post states:
"...for the first time ever, we are opening our performances to the general public. Please help us stage these plays at the highest level possible with your donation."
For more on the subject, see: tax evasion. Also see "Friends of the Goethe Academy dba Apollo Arts" IRS Form 990-EZ]


"Old Coyote" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 6, 2009:
!$! Account Ability or The Ark will be rocked !$!

Fellowship of Friend$ Inc. was established with the IRS as a Public Charity, 501c3 in 1971. Due to its classification with the IRS as a Church it is not required to file a Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax.

!$! !$!

Friend$ of the Goethe Academy was established with the IRS as a Public Charity in 1992. Each year it files Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax. The IRS requires the exempt returns of public charities to be open for disclosure [previous 3 years] and available for public perusal.

On Form 990 2007 Page 3, Part III in response to the question,

“What is the organization’s primary exempt purpose?” :

“Our mission is to present the finest works of the classical repertoire in opera, music theatre, and dance to audiences in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California” [ed. - Bolds added. Essentially, Fellowship members were the only "audiences in the Sierra Foothills."]

Friends of the Goethe Academy Form 990 for years 2006, 2007, and Form 990-EZ for the 2008 year may be viewed online at:

http://www.guidestar.org

On the 2008 Form 990-EZ for the Academy the figures for gifts, grants, and contributions are combined with membership fees. Total amount: $ 51,757. The gross receipts from admissions, merchandise sold, or services performed (program service revenue) total amount was $ 114,829.

For the years 2002 – 2007 the Academy filed the more informative Form 990. The public support for the Academy is broken down into three parts: gifts, grants, contributions (GGC) and membership fees (MF), and Program service revenue; gross receipts from admissions, merchandise sold, or services performed (GR)

GGC MF GR

2007 $ 9,974* $ 60,358 $ 87,828
2006 $ 30,484 $ 29,994 $ 206,998
2005 $ 29,994 $ 63,207 $ 279,451
2004 $ 51,354 $ 41,304 $ 206,855
2003 $129,185 $ 33,938 $ 202,973
2002 $ 41,872 $ 11,875 $ 173,695

The source for the above information, years 2002 -2005, is page 4, Schedule A of the Form 990 filed in 2006 and 2007.

* In 2007 there was no figure filed under gifts, grants, and contributions. The $ 9,974 figure was actually filed under ‘direct public support.’

The total program service revenue, that is gross receipts from admissions, merchandise sold, or services performed for the years 2002 -2008 was $ 1,272,629; pretty good revenue for 12 or so classical concerts and recitals, a few plays, and a ballet or two a year, don’t you think? Program, t-shirt, wine and dessert sales?

See Form 990 2006 Page 3, Part III,

Statement of Program Accomplishments:

Classical Music Concerts: 13 Orchestral and Soloist Events
Total Attendance 3358
Ballet Performances ??? Ballets Total Attendance 7574
Theater Performances 3 Plays
Total Attendance 6570
2006 Program Service Expenses:
Music: $ 41,942
Ballets: $ 21,792
Theater: $ 1,502

!$! !$!

Think the old IRS should check the old dog pen out?

How ’bout how all these various entities hook up and support each other? Ya got yer Fellow Ship, ya got yer Vino-Garden, and ya got yer Academy of Fine Music and Dance Hall.

Folks, ya gotta wonder, huh ?!$!

Old Coyote Know$

!$! !$!

Write the old IR$ at their department that classifies

Exempt Organizations:

IRS-EO-Classification
4910 DAL
1100 Commerce St.
Dallas, TX 75242-1198

$top yer whinin’ ya’ll, and $end in yer $uspician$ and complaint!$!

Monday, June 17, 2013

"North Yuba Grown" serves to promote Fellowship of Friends cult


[ed. - North Yuba Grown was ostensibly created "to Promote and Support Local Agriculture," but some members and supporters may be unaware that the non-profit organization also serves to advance the interests of an Oregon House-based cult called The Fellowship of Friends, directly benefiting its leader Robert Earl Burton, who is regarded a psychopath by many former members. A significant contingent of North Yuba Grown's founders and members pay tax-deductible earnings-based tithes directly to the Fellowship of Friends, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

While pursuing the commendable goal of strengthening and promoting local ranches and farms, North Yuba Grown, wittingly or unwittingly provides a marketing service to the Fellowship of Friends. The positive, wholesome image masks a concerted and desperate underlying campaign to replenish the Fellowship's depleted coffers. When many of its members must turn to social welfare for essential services, the Fellowship of Friends continues to nourish the legendary greed and ambition of cult founder and self-appointed monarch Robert Burton.

It is noteworthy that The Fellowship and Burton are absent from North Yuba Grown's promotions. They remain the unacknowledged "elephant in the room." While presumed to be independent of The Fellowship, Apollo Olive Oil, Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, Sierra d'Oro, and Grant-Eddie are operated by Fellowship members and each helps sustain Burton's kingdom.

I would suggest North Yuba Grown members be queried about their affiliation with the Fellowship of Friends. Though the Fellowship has contributed to the community in many ways, it has a long and sordid history of both documented and alleged criminal activity including sexual abuse of a minor, rape, narcotics violations, money-laundering, fraud, tax avoidance and evasion, legal intimidation, intentional disregard for government ordinances, private inurement from church assets, misrepresentation, and many other charges. A well-executed public relations campaign cannot expunge the record.]

North Yuba Grown

North Yuba Grown on Facebook
Steven Dambeck, ex-Fellowship of Friends minister, co-founder of Apollo Olive Oil, speaks on behalf of North Yuba Grown at the Yuba County "Perspectives 2013" business luncheon, April 26, 2013:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7oHFgZOR9E

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wnkbtNND9I
[ed. - July 2017 note: The YouTube videos are no longer available, though a few of Dambeck's comments are cited on the Appeal-Democrat website. As of this date, the Fellowship of Friends lawsuit against Yuba County in which it claims it is owed a refund of $600,000 in overpaid property taxes for a property that has historically been used for both exempt and non-exempt purposes remains in closed-door settlement negotiations. The "worship center" at the center of this suit has for decades been the alleged site of criminal activities for which the Fellowship and its leader Robert Burton have been sued.]

Getting Political
 

According to an article in the Appeal-Democrat, North Yuba Grown member Randy Fletcher "has announced he will seek election next year to the Yuba County Board of Supervisors seat held by longtime board member Hal Stocker." Stocker currently represents the Fellowship's district.

Fellowship member Steven Dambeck is promoting events at Fletcher's Chestnut Grove in Brownsville. (That's Steven's phone number on the site.) Dambeck's new consulting business, North Fork Yuba River, shares the same Marysville address as Fletcher & Associates Insurance. It would appear from this cozy relationship that
the Fellowship of Friends "church" is maneuvering to increase its influence upon local politics.

For a list of North Yuba Grown events at the Chestnut Grove, see the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce calendar.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Living Presence - Amsterdam Open Meeting



[ed. - On June 29th, Living Presence Amsterdam, otherwise known as the Fellowship of Friends, is holding an open meeting. Before you are introduced to Robert Earl Burton's version of  "Divine, Wordless Presence...the greatest miracle in the universe," I would strongly encourage prospective members to review this blog, and then ask some very direct questions about the cult. See Ames Gilbert's list of questions in the post below. You have been warned.]