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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fellowship of Friends Amsterdam Center Financial Statement

[ed. - As required by Dutch law, non-profits with tax-exempt status must publicly post ANBI reports on their websites. The financial reports below are from the Living Presence Amsterdam website. These sketchy statements suggest that donations to the Fellowship's Apollo office may represent 75 to 80 percent of the center's operating expenses. I don't see any accounting for the gifts and donations received from members of the Amsterdam center.]

Fellowship of Friends cult Amsterdam Center financial statements

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Despite unprecedented marketing efforts, Fellowship of Friends membership declines

The November Fellowship of Friends census reports 1,597 members worldwide.

This is somewhat less than the 10,000 Robert Burton predicted would board the Fellowship of Friends ark ahead of Armageddon.

In fact, despite unprecedented worldwide marketing efforts, in recent years Fellowship of Friends membership has shrunk to levels last seen in the early 1980s.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fellowship of Friends sues Yuba County over tax status

[ed. - The Fellowship of Friends and County of Yuba settled in 2017.]

Robert Earl Burton Fellowship of Friends cult Goethe Room dinner, Apollo, Oregon House, CA
Robert Earl Burton leads a formal dinner inside The Fellowship of Friends Galleria. Source: Living Presence
"We do what we can when we can and would wish to do more as we can. We ask nothing in return as this is what community supporters do." - Fellowship of Friends President, Greg Holman, May 27, 2014
[ed. - see also: Group's tax refund shot down and Fellowship of Friends Request for Tax Refunds Based on Religious and Welfare Property Tax Exemptions]

From the Appeal-Democrat, September 25, 2014:
A Yuba County foothills organization is seeking a $600,000 property tax refund, claiming its worship center should not be taxed.

The Fellowship of Friends filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the county, asking for the refund and a declaration the center be protected through religious exemptions from future taxation.

Yuba County spokesman Russ Brown said Wednesday he would not comment on pending litigation.

The complaint filed in Yuba County Superior Court says the Fellowship was erroneously and illegally taxed between 2009 and 2013 when the county assessor refused to recognize the Fellowship's right to religious and welfare exemptions.

The Fellowship, headquartered at 12607 Rices Crossing Road, Oregon House, describes itself as a nondenominational church with principles based on "universal religious teachings that transmit the art and science of recognizing and experiencing a Divine Presence."

There are 1,600 members of the church in more than 30 countries throughout the world, according to information included with the petition. The central focus of the suit is a multi-use 5,600-square-foot building referred to as the Galleria, described as housing books, antiques, sculptures, tapestries, instruments, and other arts considered by followers to be vehicles for transmitting the immortal state of Divine Presence.
Read more at Appeal-Democrat.com


"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 26, 2014:
From the Appeal-Democrat article Tim linked to above (referring to ‘The Academy’) [now, The Galleria]:
… The Fellowship closed the property to the pubic and it now “remains exclusively a place of religious worship and ceremonial religious events.”
Ha, ha, ha!

Of course, I have no idea what the layout is now, but for many years after ‘The Academy’ was built, the north wing was devoted solely to the use of Burton, including the ‘emergency escape tunnel’ leading from under the floor of his bedroom. IIRC [if I recall correctly], there was also a TV/entertainment room, and certainly lots of storage for clothes and shoes. There was the brick-lined cellar where wine was stored, with enough space for two bedrooms used by the ‘boys’ in favor at the time. The south wing contained a kitchen, ‘Wordsworth dining room’, a library, and a couple of rooms decorated with Egyptian furniture, mostly used for Burton and small FoF [Fellowship of Friends] business meetings, where he gave out the day’s orders.

The main central part consisted of an ornately decorated entrance foyer, and the large events room. On the west side, there were large doors leading to a covered semi-circular portico area, the roof supported with pillars. This was used for outdoors dining, and from there steps descended to the enclosed, rather formal, rose garden.

So, the north wing was devoted solely to Burton’s comforts, and was the scene of many of his ‘religious events’ of a sexual nature. The south wing was also devoted to Burton’s comforts, though followers were invited to share in the dining experience and fruits of the kitchen from time to time (but now also transformed into a lucrative fundraising gig). The cellar held his collection of expensive wines and housed his sexual playthings of the moment. And the main center room was used for concerts and other events, including ’symposiums’ and more prodigious fund-raising.

In reality, pretty much the entire building centered on Burton and the attempt to satisfy his insatiable desires and proclivity for dominance and control.

Admittedly, there were a lot of possessions there, paintings by third-tier artists, gaudy (but always expensive) trinkets that happened to catch Burton’s eye, plenty of ormolu. In various places on the GF [Greater Fellowship] site are some photo updates since that time, including one of a fresco on the ceiling celebrating the rampant erection of a particular (and easily recognizable) follower—perhaps caught in a religious sexual ceremony that was particularly memorable for Burton. And there is always the oil portrait of Burton-and-dog as a reminder of the ‘brightest light in 2,000 years if one tires of the rest.

Back to the article. I remember the furor over the Yuba county tax claims on real property—which included the contents—this is usual. Abraham Goldman came up with the scheme to make it into tax-exempt museum. That left a small problem: it was actually mainly the luxurious residence of Conscious Bob. So, Dr. Ethan H., offered his splendid, just completed, residence half a mile away, to Burton (I have no idea what the quid pro quo was). Burton accepted, and the circus had its base there for a number of years, and Ethan rented another house in the meantime.

So the FoF applied for a permit to make it into a museum, ostensibly ‘open to the public’, which AFAIK [as far as I know] was a requirement for tax-exempt status. That didn’t sit well (one of the ‘onerous conditions’, I suppose; another may have been a requirement to upgrade the access road to the museum to make it fit for the public to use, I don’t know). Long story short, it didn’t suit the FoF to meet the conditions. Later, Ethan got his house back, and Burton returned to the Academy.

So now the FoF is making what seems to me to be a rather weak claim for a tax refund. This is odd, since they requested the change to ‘museum’ status in the first place. They didn’t meet the terms, which means the county taxed them in the meantime at the usual rate for the value of the building and the contents. Now the FoF wants a post-dated religious exemption. But, if the county wishes to look more closely, they will discover the reality: this is just another facet of the ongoing and illegal inurement. That is, the building is mostly used, IMO, for the pleasure of Robert Burton, not for the benefit of the members of the church, and should not have tax exempt status. Moreover the private use value to Burton should be added to his personal income and taxed as such.

[ed. - The following is apparently a message to Fellowship members from Girard Haven, who for decades has been Robert Burton's surrogate.]

"J.D." wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 29, 2014:
Message from the Whitman Glen Office [the Fellowship's business office]:
“Galleria property tax exemption effort”

Dear Friends,

We would like all of you to be aware of a legal action the Fellowship initiated earlier this week. A suit was filed against Yuba County for the recognition of our Religious Property Tax Exemption for the Galleria. You may read about it in today’s Appeal Democrat front page top or online at the Appealdemocrat.com.

We have tried very hard to work with Yuba County to obtain the religious and welfare exemptions that we are due under the law, but we have been denied at every turn. We are now forced to sue the County, incurring additional legal expenses for both the Fellowship of Friends and the County’s other taxpayers, in order to receive the tax-exempt property status granted to dozens of other religious organizations in Yuba County.

As part of our court filing, the Fellowship is seeking a refund of property taxes that have been erroneously and illegally collected by Yuba County over the last four years. Recently, there has been some misrepresentation by others about our intentions for this property, so we want to be clear: this property is used as our primary place of worship and other ceremonial religious events. Our intention is that this property remains exclusively a place of religious worship and ceremonial religious events. The County should live up to its obligation to provide the Fellowship of Friends with the same property tax exemptions afforded to other places of worship in Yuba County.

Please be advised that now that this is an open case in the courts that we will not be talking about it any further. You may refer any inquires to me at 530-692-[xxxx] ext. 8217 or my cell phone 530-301-[xxxx].

Thank you,

G. H. [assumed to be Girard Haven]

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 1, 2014:
J.D. (#142-212 or thereabouts) [responding to above],

Thanks for the update on the latest intra-organization propaganda and group thought-orientation exercise. The message is clear: here is the official story, the only story, get with it. Note that, being a Man Number Five, Haven has taken it upon himself to decide precisely when he or the organization can stop talking about it. The trouble is, an observer using the same reasoning could not help but notice that this official letter to all members itself was delivered after it became an open case, thus undoubtedly breaking the implied rule (presumably that a party to the case cannot comment while the case is open?). Moreover, it has a whiff of witness tampering. If anyone from the FoF is called as a witness during the case, they will have probably already have read the letter and understood what they are supposed to say. Add the knowledge of the liberal permission for ‘Intentional Insincerity™’ that Burton’s religion has clearly espoused from its founding, and an impartial observer might deduce that the chances of the witness telling the truth and nothing but the whole truth approaches 0%. Not to mention the shining example of the low, low standard of truthfulness demonstrated by Burton himself over the last forty-three years or more.

The trouble with this narrative is that it is false. It is no more used as a place of worship for the members than as a museum for the benefit of the general public. Here’s the way I see it.

In a typical 24-hour period when Burton is in residence (that is, not taking a luxurious all-expenses-paid vacation somewhere else), the Academy is, on average, populated only by God Emperor of Oregon House and his harem. It is true that there are other servants floating about ministering to his needs, cleaning, screening his phone calls, preparing meals or arranging flowers, but they are not free agents or visitors. And it is true that various minions scurry in and out on Fellowship business throughout the day, seeking directions and instructions from the Oracle of Apollo. The exceptions are when the gates are flung open for a few hours to host fund-raising; concerts, meals and meetings. Almost all of these are paid events (the lavish scale of payments has been documented extensively previously in this blog), and all the money in effect accrues to Burton to dispose of as he wishes. I make no claims as to whether he pays taxes in the full amount—or at all—on these large sums, but I’m certain that a substantial portion of the take is spent on his personal expenses and those of his entourage.

And when Burton is not in residence, the fundraising activities may continue under the auspices of Asaf Braverman, Girard Haven, or other anointed representative.

Now all this can be crammed under the rather broad cloak of ‘religion’, but my point is this: most of the benefits of this building accrue to Burton himself, not his followers. Paying the minister a reasonable salary for services rendered is one thing, but payments whether in cash, kind, or sperm on the scale that Burton demands is another. I’d hazard that an investigator who had access to all the records, Burton’s tax return, and financial details involving him, would find a clear case of excessive compensation, that is, illegal inurement. The IRS puts it this way: “…prohibition against private inurement means that individuals within that organization may not receive excessive compensation or benefit from their employment or association, because such arrangement would contravene the supposed mission of the organization.” That is, the organization cannot be set up to especially benefit particular members or the founder.

When the Fellowship of Friends was incorporated, the Article VII of the Articles of Incorporation specifically pointed out the prohibition against inurement. It states: The property of this corporation is irrevocably dedicated to religious purposes and no part of the net income or assets of the organization shall ever inure to the benefit of any director, officer, or member thereof or to the benefit of any private persons.

Two of the nine members who signed that document in 1979 are still around, Linda Rockwood (former name) and Ethan Harris. They know better. Of course, not being present at the signing does not in the least absolve present and past members of the Board of Directors and the Fellowship Council of their responsibilities, as the letter sent to the Board by David Springfield made clear (curious readers may Google ‘David Springfield Letter’ or ‘david-springfield-letter-2009.doc’ to find a copy of this remarkable and revealing document on the internet).

Note to those exploring these pages for the first time: ‘Intentional Insincerity™’ is Burton-speak for lying when it suits himself or a follower, which is most of the time. This is supposedly done as a deliberate act of will, ‘in the moment’, which makes it o.k.

P.S. The Legal Eagle site nicely displays the arguments of the case the FoF lost in 1991, concerning whether the Academy qualified as a museum:

http://goo.gl/QT8Go7

[ed. - Many former members of Robert Burton's "inner circle" claim that the embattled Galleria has frequently been put to other, less sacred uses. For some examples, see:  "Inner Circle Facts" and "When I'm 64". What public good, deserving of tax-exemption, is served by these "religious activities" on Galleria grounds?]

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dear President of Fellowship

Greg Holman. From Territorial Dispatch
Yuba County 5th District (Oregon House/Foothills) Supervisor Hal Stocker wrote on the YubaFoothills.com political forum, September 10, 2014: [ed. - link no longer active]
Dear Mr. Greg Holman, [Fellowship of Friends] President:

In the interest of harmony between the Fellowship and the rest of the community, please do your best to get the Fellowship to not push a local agenda that is at odds with the wishes and desires of the great majority of residents in Dobbins-Oregon House.

By this I refer to the Fellowship's efforts to rezone much of their lands for housing projects.

Most of the local (non-Fellowship) residents want to keep Dobbins-Oregon House much the way it is.

As stated in their Plan: They prefer tree-tops over roof-tops. They don't care to be another Grass Valley.

And, with this severe drought, there is not enough water for the present population, let alone for new-comers.

Personally, I have had no objection to North Yuba Grown, and I have supported that effort. I support Gary and Kim Hawthorne in their local ag efforts. Also, I am in favor of more recognition for our excellent local wines and olive oils, etc., etc. And tourism is fine, kept under control.

WE ALL NEED TO GET ALONG TOGETHER. Let's make an effort.

Hal Stocker. 675-2282

[ed. - A lively debate has ensued, including this comment from, one might guess to be, a certain Charles Walter Sharp, Fellowship member and business partner of Randy Fletcher. In November, Stocker will face Fletcher in a run-off election for the 5th District Supervisor seat. Also jumping in on the "conversation" is Nick Spaulding, Fellowship political activist and outspoken critic of the incumbent, who has for years pursued development rights for Fellowship interests. There is also evidence that the Fellowship has engaged the services of international public relations and marketing firm Edelman to help their image during this (perhaps unintended) entry into the spotlight.]

"cws2352" wrote on the YubaFoothills.com political forum, September 10, 2014:

Hal, old news and you know it could never actually happen. This type of posting is beneath an ethical person. You are trying to incite the haters and use the FOF as a scapegoat to trash Fletcher. Why do that when you already have their (the haters) vote? It's not likely that you'll sway any clear thinking individuals.

Petty, pathetic and perilous.

Like you said Hal, "WE ALL NEED TO GET ALONG TOGETHER. Let's make an effort."

[ed. - It should be noted that bloggers "Oak Ranch," "Loraine," and "Many whoas" took Stocker to task for his claim below that they have been working for the Fellowship.]

"Hal Stocker" wrote on the YubaFoothills.com political forum, September 8, 2014:
For anybody who happens to be checking in on this site,the above is all about the Fellowship wanting the county to rezone their back 800-900 acres, so they can put in a subdivision back there and make a lot of money for the Fellowship. The same thing went on with Tom Richards 5-6000 acres a few years ago.

But the people don't want it, for various reasons, and the county didn't want it in the General Plan.

Greg Crompton just put article in the paper about what a bad idea it is from a fire safe viewpoint. If there were a fire back there, a lot of people would get trapped with no way out.

Now (above) we have Nightshift (Oak Ranch, Loraine, Many whoas), who seem to have been working overtime for the Fellowship for the past few years, making a nuisance with the county, especially while working on the General Plan, a few years ago.

Reference was made to a meeting where I said "they" weren't representative of his(my) constituents. I could have said that, because Nightshift (or whatever) and their small group, along with Tom Richards made up a small percentage of the people in Dobbins-Oregon House, let alone the rest of the 5th District.

So, what the Fellowship has wanted for years is for the county to essentially re-zone their 900 acres or so, from 10-20-40 acres to 5 acres or smaller, so they can put in a subdivision or, at least many, many houses! That's what all the fuss was with the General Plan, to get the Community Boundary extended out.

The Fellowship should call it quits on this issue, and they would get along better with the rest of the community. As I said, the majority of people don't want housing projects in Dobbins-Oregon House, especially now in the midst of an horrendous drought. There is not enough water to supply the present residents, let alone newcomers.

Yes, we can all get along together, including the Fellowship, but no special agendas please, and work with the rest of the people.

Hal Stocker, 675-2282

Thursday, September 4, 2014

High quality pot, North Yuba grown

[ed. - Long-time Fellowship of Friends member Jonathan Fairoaks, aka John Schaberg, was arrested in yet another in a series of North Yuba pot busts involving Fellowship members. In the early 80s, Mr. Fairoaks was forced to take a hiatus from the Fellowship due to involvement of a similar nature.]

From the Appeal-Democrat September 4, 2014:
Illinois pot stop leads to foothills’ bust

By Monica Vaughan/mvaughan@appealdemocrat.com

Local law enforcement, tipped off by police in Illinois, busted a marijuana grow operation near Oregon House; and the case serves as an example of Yuba County's role as a supplier of high-quality, high-price marijuana to nationwide distribution channels, an official said. Yuba-Sutter narcotics agents were contacted Tuesday by Illinois State Police, who intercepted 35 pounds of marijuana grown in the Yuba County foothills and on its way to Philadelphia.

That led the local agents to a 97-plant outdoor grow site, where they arrested Jonathan Fairoaks, 63. "This is very high quality weed we're talking about," said NET-5 Task Force Commander Martin Horan. "The marijuana coming from our part of the country is known as being top quality and bringing in top dollar."

Fairoaks' wife, Merry Stehling, 63, was stopped by police in Illinois and found with packaged marijuana in the trunk of a rented car, Horan said. She was arrested on suspicion of transportation of marijuana, conspiracy and possession for sale.

As a result of the seizure and Stehling's cooperation, the Illinois State Police made a controlled delivery of marijuana to a residence in Philadelphia, where officers seized heroin, hash oil, and $90,000 cash.

Illinois police advised Yuba-Sutter agents that Fairoaks was at his residence in the 9700 block of Wildwood Trail in Oregon House, leading to a search warrant.

NET-5 agents served the warrant Tuesday afternoon, leading to the arrest and seizure of property related to the grow operation.

"Wildwood Trail is off the dirt road in the boonies," Horan said. "The guys had to walk in a half mile and caught (Fairoaks) on a four-wheeler and arrested him."

Horan said Yuba County is a major supplier for channels across the nation to distributors, particularly on the East Coast.

"It's going for $4,000 a pound back there," he said.

Last week, he received a call from police in Nashville looking at Yuba County as a source of marijuana to their jurisdiction.

Read more at Appeal-Democrat.com

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Linbu Society

[ed. - Bonita Hightower (Guido) and Robert Burton met at a party before New Years Day 1970, and thus began The Fellowship of Friends. See: "Early History of The Fellowship of Friends, as told by Student #1."

While directing the Hawaii center, Bonita asked for, and received, permission from Robert Burton to take a two-year leave of absence from the Fellowship. It is reported that she left Hawaii on December 26, 1973, accompanied by her spouse Hallstein Farestveit, who had also briefly been a member of the Fellowship. They flew to Oslo, Norway.

According to a source, Donald MacDonald was there to take over the Hawaii center and, while they were still in the air, he received word from Robert Burton that Bonita was no longer in the Fellowship. Robert said she was a "bad seed."

Bonita and Hallstein founded what would become The Linbu Society.]


"Martin from Berlin" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, April 22, 2007:
Many years ago I came across a 'Fourth Way’ group mainly situated in Sweden. It turned out it was started by an ex-student of the FOF, who had left in the seventies. It was a copy of the FOF. I think it was called Linbu. And here comes the interesting part. It worked for many years — at least as a “conscious school” for the members. They used the same ideas as the FOF, body types, deck of cards, C-influence and the teacher gave himself a number. Their shops, dealing with semi-precious stones were called Arcena (the Arena of C-Influence). Apparently the members had no idea about the origin of the ideas and the form of the school (Correct me if I am wrong). I am sure they verified C-Influence within there frame of thought and believed they are part of a conscious school. Maybe somebody knows, what happened to them.

[ed. - The following reflection on The Linbu Society is reprinted from the Greater Fellowship website, with the permission of its author. He states that since writing the article, his assessment of Linbu has grown more critical.]

"Bjorn from Norway" wrote on the Greater Fellowship, June 30, 2011:
Hi everybody

Maybe you have no idea what "the Linbu Society" is, but you'll learn that pretty soon. And there will surely be some topics to discuss related to what I write here, even if you don't know this particular school/group.

The Linbu Society, or its precursor JOULA, was started by Mr. Hallstein Farestveit (HF) and Ms. Bonita Hightower (BH) some time around 1975 in Sweden. BH had been the first student in Robert Burton's FOF in California, and had later formed, or became leader of, a FOF center in Hawaii. It is unclear to me exactly for how long HF was a student in the FOF, but I know he resided in La Habra, California, in 1971 and 1972. And then some time around ... 1973 .... he also went to Hawaii, and was there working/studying together with BH. As far as I know - they were lovers.

Then, around 1975 they started a new Gurdjieff/Ouspensky center in Sweden. Or a few of them. And they were no longer students in FOF or connected with FOF in any way. As far as I know. At that time BH and HF were both teachers there in Sweden. Equals, so to speak. But later BH left and HF became (only) teacher. Around 1977, if I remember correctly, the Linbu Society - a foundation/charity - was founded. And this was so to speak the official name for what students called the Linbu School.

H. Linbu was the pseudonym taken by HF prior to writing his only book (so far): "The Theory of Conscious Light." Published in 1977 and very hard to get. A German edition was published in 2000.

I was a student in this school for about 8 years. 1989-1996. I "belonged" to the Småland center in the south of Sweden. It should be said that there were such centers in several countries: Norway, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Poland, in addition to Sweden. At the time there were two major centers in Sweden: the one I belonged to, and another just north of Gothenburg.

In regard to my 8-year experience I shall not go in to all the little details - just focus on what I feel are the most important points. Here they are:

1. It was an incredibly rich time. I mean - rich in experiences and rich in learning.

2. I am certain I did learn a lot - and that the Fourth Way is not just something in somebody's imagination. These things we learn about in the Fourth Way teaching are quite real. I mean, the teaching as it was presented in "In Search of the Miraculous." Not Burton eating muesli (with sprinkled gold dust on top) together with the 43 other enlightened ones. Always provided, of course, that we are able to understand these things at all. That's not to be taken for granted. Or maybe rather: that we are willing to make the efforts in order to verify what's in this teaching personally.

3. I have heard/read all the stories about Burton. But when it comes to Mr. HF, the teacher in the Linbu Society, I don't think I can paint the same picture. Never did I see him mistreat anybody or behave in ways I would call immoral. Sure, he could scream and yell and "make a big circus", but he was never aggressive. And I never heard any story about him taking sexual advantage of the female students, and so on and so on. (HF isn't homosexual. Unlike Burton.) In fact, I still see him as a "role model" in many ways, when I recall the way he used to behave in various situations. That said, I think I still should mention that HF drank quite a lot of alcohol. I never saw him not in control of himself - but intoxicated? Yes.

But at the same time: I don't know how it was in the beginning, but when I arrived in Sweden in 1989 the teacher (HF) had started the policy, so to speak, of only working with the "center directors" i.e. leaders of the groups of students. He often mingled with the rest of us too, but more often than not he just worked with the group leaders. Or was by himself - or with whoever was his girlfriend/partner at the time.

A very usual, and arguably very sensible, way of doing things. You work in the hierarchy - and delegate tasks to those below you - who in turn delegate the work further to those below them. And so on. I don't really have a problem with that. But ... and there's a but: even if the teacher might be man no. 7.5 (with flashing lights and a platinum diploma), the group leaders, who may be frustrated women with emotional instabilities, these group leaders (regardless of gender, really. We males can be wacky too) might cause all kinds of hell. Maybe just on a whim. Or the guys/girls just below these group leaders in the chain-of-command. And/or there's all kinds of idiotic and violent misunderstandings and conflicts that just manifest out of the void and cause all kinds of hubub.

This was why I left that school, really. My "center director", a middle-aged woman with an unusual potential for cruelty and intrigue of 1001 kinds, was simply "hacking me to death." In such a group environment there's also the sad tendency that the less powerful ones automatically begin to imitate/take the side of the more powerful one, and so help this one with any hacking-to-death that needs to be done. So ... on a day-to-day basis I met all this resistance. No matter how small and petty a matter was - the others, as a rule females (for some definite reason females were given more power than males in this school. Excepting the teacher, that is.), would begin "the hacking." And it never ended. In the end I just saw it as a matter of survival and decided to get the hell away from there. Before I either hurt myself, or hurt somebody else.

Anyway ... and it's a strange thing....: I felt, and I still feel, that it was exactly the right time for me to leave. Regardless of "all the circus/madness." As there was so much waiting for me "outside." I became a student when I was only 18, and so I had very little life experience. Back in "life" and "doomed forever" (a bit of humor there) at 25 I did definitely begin my "catching up" with so many things I still hadn't learned in my life.

At the same time ... another unusual thing: I was one of the very few, I reckon, who left this school/group without giving the school/leaders/teacher/teaching any negativity. I sent no angry letters and made no accusations about "causing trauma", "exploiting innocent young people" or anything like that. And, unlike a great many others who were students in this school, I did not steal any money or property as I left. You see - many students did this. As they left. But I could never have done such a thing. In my mind such a thing is very wrong.

I did however write some letters. To the teacher. Not many - all in all maybe 5 or 6 over the years. Sometimes I enclosed some small gift. My letters were only positive and I presented no criticism. But then - just the other day I receive a big envelope, posted by this "evil center director", whether by the teacher's order or not, containing 3 of my letters, one of them unopened + one beautiful rolled-up Chinese picture I had sent the teacher 5 or 6 years ago. No comments inside. No letter.

And I thought this was very harsh. Isn't even an "hello" in order? Or: if one does not like someone's letters - why not just throw them away/burn them? Why this need to return the letters? It's very extreme. But yeah - I get the message: "please be so kind and f**k off!" I just can't see what the big problem is. What's the point of having some school that hardly anybody has ever heard of due to this school keeping such an extremely low profile? What's the matter if someone sends a friendly letter, a greeting? Why divide everybody into students (= have a shred of hope) / ex-students (= dead forever and contagious)?

I don't really get it. Back in the 1920's, 1930's, 1940's and 1950's it was OK for people to talk together. To visit each other, write letters, and so on. I'm talking about "Fourth Way people." Collin and Nicoll were friends - not enemies. There was some circulation of students between the teachers/groups at the time, and a high degree of openness about what was going on, what was being studied and done and so on.

But now ... everything's terribly fragmented. FOF, who are led by a super-faggy money-crazed megalomaniac psychopath, declare everybody else "dead." And they're seemingly not very interested in the Fourth Way, anyway. Making money and keeping up appearances seems to be all. Or almost all.

The Linbu Society has ... 60(?) ... active members? Or maybe it's 30? And you can't find them. Unless you really, really know where to look and are 100% committed to following the order, as is said.

The Gurdjieff Foundation seems an old fossil. A kind of museum.

William Patterson has some thing going on, but I'm not really sure what it is. Doesn't really look like the Fourth Way. I think he means well, however. I don't think he's a bad person.

And then there are some "enneagram groups" who study God-knows-what, but it doesn't have anything to do with the Fourth Way. I know, I've looked in those books and seen some ...scary... videoclips.

So ... what's to become of the Fourth Way?

I'm really not sure. But personally I do have an ambition: I would like to start a group myself. In not too long time. And I want to produce a book dealing with the body types and the enneagram - as I feel I have something to contribute in that area/those areas. Wait and see. I'll start doing something soon.

Anyway - it's a discussion and it'd be good to discuss these things a bit. This little piece is just to "get started."

:)

Bjørn (aka "Bob Belsen")

Hallstein Faresveit
Additional material on The Linbu Society
http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?t=190308


Articles in Swedish:

http://www.skanskan.se/article/20140619/OSBY/140619423/-/kan-vara-en-av-sveriges-farligaste [ed. - Dead link]

https://www.flashback.org/t1041354

http://www.sjoberg.us/linbu.html


Articles in French:

Linbu is dangerous (!) (9 pages)

https://web.archive.org/web/20170923232231/http://prevensectes.com/linbu7.htm

[ed. - Also see the Norwegian Wikipedia page for Linbu.]


"Amanda Raphaelson" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 28, 2014:
Hi All,

I received information from Thomas Hightower [ed. - Thomas Váczy Hightower], Friday, that my mother, Bonita Hightower (Guido) had passed away on Thursday, July 24th of natural causes. She had been ill for many years. A small memorial service will be held in Denmark on Wed. afternoon, local time, and her ashes will be spread at sea. The In Memorandum section on the Greater Fellowship site will have more information soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bonita Hightower, Robert Burton's first student, passes away

Bonita Hightower (Guido), Robert Burton's first student, at Makaha, February 1973.
Photo by Drew Kampion.

[ed. - Bonita Hightower (Guido) and Robert Burton met at a party before New Years Day 1970, and thus began The Fellowship of Friends. See: "Early History of The Fellowship of Friends, as told by Student #1".]

"Amanda Raphaelson" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 28, 2014:

Hi All,

I received information from Thomas Hightower, Friday, that my mother, Bonita Hightower (Guido) had passed away on Thursday, July 24th of natural causes. She had been ill for many years. A small memorial service will be held in Denmark on Wed. afternoon, local time, and her ashes will be spread at sea. The In Memorandum section on the Greater Fellowship site will have more information soon.

"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 2, 2014:
Bonita G. – A Brief Remembrance

I noticed there has not been much comment on the death of Bonita G., perhaps because most of you never knew her. When I joined the FOF in the early 1970’s there were something over 100 and something less than 150 members, so I got to know a fair number of them personally, including Bonita and her husband David.

Obviously she later remarried, but I know nothing of that. In fact, much is lost to time. I don’t recall how long I knew her or where our paths parted. I think she left a long time before I did. She was identified as the “first student” but details of her meeting with Burton were not public conversation, and I knew only she met him at a party.

My direct memories of Bonita are few but I can see her clearly as I write this post.

I remember Bonita as someone very special and very intense. She was a large woman. Her facial features were broad and she had long black hair. The most striking aspect of her appearance were her eyes, dark and deep. (Others who knew her better may correct me, but this is how she looks in my mind.)

I don’t recall conversations with Bonita so much as encounters! Her presence was powerful and serious. There was an air of mystery about her, and possession of secret knowledge. I liked her but she was also intimidating. Partly that was her status in the group, but it was also the feeling that when I spoke to her she was actually seeing me, actually there with me.

Thus when I was near her she pushed me to be in the present with her and be present to myself. And wasn’t that our goal?

"Tempus Fugit" added:
Well, well. I just re-discovered about this Fellowship of Friends wiki page where Bonita posted her own story in 1997.

Here’s the link. [ed. - Link no longer active.]

[ed. - While directing the Hawaii center, Bonita asked for, and received, permission from Robert Burton to take a two-year leave of absence from the Fellowship.

It is reported that she left Hawaii on December 26, 1973, accompanied by her spouse Hallstein Farestveit, who had also briefly been a member of the Fellowship. They flew to Oslo, Norway.

According to a source, Donald MacDonald was there to take over the Hawaii center and, while they were still in the air, he received word from Robert Burton that Bonita was no longer in the Fellowship. Robert said she was a "bad seed."


Bonita and Hallstein would eventually found The Linbu Society. The following reflection on The Linbu Society is reprinted from the Greater Fellowship website, with the permission of its author "Bjorn from Norway." He states that since writing the article, his assessment of Linbu has grown more critical.]


"Bjorn from Norway" wrote on the Greater Fellowship, June 30, 2011:
Hi everybody

Maybe you have no idea what "the Linbu Society" is, but you'll learn that pretty soon. And there will surely be some topics to discuss related to what I write here, even if you don't know this particular school/group.

The Linbu Society, or its precursor JOULA, was started by Mr. Hallstein Farestveit (HF) and Ms. Bonita Hightower (BH) some time around 1975 in Sweden. BH had been the first student in Robert Burton's FOF in California, and had later formed, or became leader of, a FOF center in Hawaii. It is unclear to me exactly for how long HF was a student in the FOF, but I know he resided in La Habra, California, in 1971 and 1972. And then some time around ... 1973 .... he also went to Hawaii, and was there working/studying together with BH. As far as I know - they were lovers.

Then, around 1975 they started a new Gurdjieff/Ouspensky center in Sweden. Or a few of them. And they were no longer students in FOF or connected with FOF in any way. As far as I know. At that time BH and HF were both teachers there in Sweden. Equals, so to speak. But later BH left and HF became (only) teacher. Around 1977, if I remember correctly, the Linbu Society - a foundation/charity - was founded. And this was so to speak the official name for what students called the Linbu School.

H. Linbu was the pseudonym taken by HF prior to writing his only book (so far): "The Theory of Conscious Light." Published in 1977 and very hard to get. A German edition was published in 2000.

I was a student in this school for about 8 years. 1989-1996. I "belonged" to the Småland center in the south of Sweden. It should be said that there were such centers in several countries: Norway, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Poland, in addition to Sweden. At the time there were two major centers in Sweden: the one I belonged to, and another just north of Gothenburg.

In regard to my 8-year experience I shall not go in to all the little details - just focus on what I feel are the most important points. Here they are:

1. It was an incredibly rich time. I mean - rich in experiences and rich in learning.

2. I am certain I did learn a lot - and that the Fourth Way is not just something in somebody's imagination. These things we learn about in the Fourth Way teaching are quite real. I mean, the teaching as it was presented in "In Search of the Miraculous." Not Burton eating muesli (with sprinkled gold dust on top) together with the 43 other enlightened ones. Always provided, of course, that we are able to understand these things at all. That's not to be taken for granted. Or maybe rather: that we are willing to make the efforts in order to verify what's in this teaching personally.

3. I have heard/read all the stories about Burton. But when it comes to Mr. HF, the teacher in the Linbu Society, I don't think I can paint the same picture. Never did I see him mistreat anybody or behave in ways I would call immoral. Sure, he could scream and yell and "make a big circus", but he was never aggressive. And I never heard any story about him taking sexual advantage of the female students, and so on and so on. (HF isn't homosexual. Unlike Burton.) In fact, I still see him as a "role model" in many ways, when I recall the way he used to behave in various situations. That said, I think I still should mention that HF drank quite a lot of alcohol. I never saw him not in control of himself - but intoxicated? Yes.

But at the same time: I don't know how it was in the beginning, but when I arrived in Sweden in 1989 the teacher (HF) had started the policy, so to speak, of only working with the "center directors" i.e. leaders of the groups of students. He often mingled with the rest of us too, but more often than not he just worked with the group leaders. Or was by himself - or with whoever was his girlfriend/partner at the time.

A very usual, and arguably very sensible, way of doing things. You work in the hierarchy - and delegate tasks to those below you - who in turn delegate the work further to those below them. And so on. I don't really have a problem with that. But ... and there's a but: even if the teacher might be man no. 7.5 (with flashing lights and a platinum diploma), the group leaders, who may be frustrated women with emotional instabilities, these group leaders (regardless of gender, really. We males can be wacky too) might cause all kinds of hell. Maybe just on a whim. Or the guys/girls just below these group leaders in the chain-of-command. And/or there's all kinds of idiotic and violent misunderstandings and conflicts that just manifest out of the void and cause all kinds of hubub.

This was why I left that school, really. My "center director", a middle-aged woman with an unusual potential for cruelty and intrigue of 1001 kinds, was simply "hacking me to death." In such a group environment there's also the sad tendency that the less powerful ones automatically begin to imitate/take the side of the more powerful one, and so help this one with any hacking-to-death that needs to be done. So ... on a day-to-day basis I met all this resistance. No matter how small and petty a matter was - the others, as a rule females (for some definite reason females were given more power than males in this school. Excepting the teacher, that is.), would begin "the hacking." And it never ended. In the end I just saw it as a matter of survival and decided to get the hell away from there. Before I either hurt myself, or hurt somebody else.

Anyway ... and it's a strange thing....: I felt, and I still feel, that it was exactly the right time for me to leave. Regardless of "all the circus/madness." As there was so much waiting for me "outside." I became a student when I was only 18, and so I had very little life experience. Back in "life" and "doomed forever" (a bit of humor there) at 25 I did definitely begin my "catching up" with so many things I still hadn't learned in my life.

At the same time ... another unusual thing: I was one of the very few, I reckon, who left this school/group without giving the school/leaders/teacher/teaching any negativity. I sent no angry letters and made no accusations about "causing trauma", "exploiting innocent young people" or anything like that. And, unlike a great many others who were students in this school, I did not steal any money or property as I left. You see - many students did this. As they left. But I could never have done such a thing. In my mind such a thing is very wrong.

I did however write some letters. To the teacher. Not many - all in all maybe 5 or 6 over the years. Sometimes I enclosed some small gift. My letters were only positive and I presented no criticism. But then - just the other day I receive a big envelope, posted by this "evil center director", whether by the teacher's order or not, containing 3 of my letters, one of them unopened + one beautiful rolled-up Chinese picture I had sent the teacher 5 or 6 years ago. No comments inside. No letter.

And I thought this was very harsh. Isn't even an "hello" in order? Or: if one does not like someone's letters - why not just throw them away/burn them? Why this need to return the letters? It's very extreme. But yeah - I get the message: "please be so kind and f**k off!" I just can't see what the big problem is. What's the point of having some school that hardly anybody has ever heard of due to this school keeping such an extremely low profile? What's the matter if someone sends a friendly letter, a greeting? Why divide everybody into students (= have a shred of hope) / ex-students (= dead forever and contagious)?

I don't really get it. Back in the 1920's, 1930's, 1940's and 1950's it was OK for people to talk together. To visit each other, write letters, and so on. I'm talking about "Fourth Way people." Collin and Nicoll were friends - not enemies. There was some circulation of students between the teachers/groups at the time, and a high degree of openness about what was going on, what was being studied and done and so on.

But now ... everything's terribly fragmented. FOF, who are led by a super-faggy money-crazed megalomaniac psychopath, declare everybody else "dead." And they're seemingly not very interested in the Fourth Way, anyway. Making money and keeping up appearances seems to be all. Or almost all.

The Linbu Society has ... 60(?) ... active members? Or maybe it's 30? And you can't find them. Unless you really, really know where to look and are 100% committed to following the order, as is said.

The Gurdjieff Foundation seems an old fossil. A kind of museum.

William Patterson has some thing going on, but I'm not really sure what it is. Doesn't really look like the Fourth Way. I think he means well, however. I don't think he's a bad person.

And then there are some "enneagram groups" who study God-knows-what, but it doesn't have anything to do with the Fourth Way. I know, I've looked in those books and seen some ...scary... videoclips.

So ... what's to become of the Fourth Way?

I'm really not sure. But personally I do have an ambition: I would like to start a group myself. In not too long time. And I want to produce a book dealing with the body types and the enneagram - as I feel I have something to contribute in that area/those areas. Wait and see. I'll start doing something soon.

Anyway - it's a discussion and it'd be good to discuss these things a bit. This little piece is just to "get started."

:)

Bjørn (aka "Bob Belsen")

Hallstein Faresveit
Additional material on The Linbu Society
http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?t=190308


Articles in Swedish:

http://www.skanskan.se/article/20140619/OSBY/140619423/-/kan-vara-en-av-sveriges-farligaste [ed. - Dead link]

https://www.flashback.org/t1041354

http://www.sjoberg.us/linbu.html


Articles in French:

Linbu is dangerous (!) (9 pages)

http://prevensectes.com/linbu7.htm

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Day Barque Volume 2, Number 1

[ed. - As previously mentioned, in offering these Fellowship of Friends publications for sale, no mention is made of the organization they promote and support. The Fellowship calls The Day Barque, "a more artistic expression of our School." The following comes from Amazon.com.]

The Day Barque is a review of poetry, prose and works of art exploring the age-old quest for the divinity within. It focuses on the moment-to-moment struggle to connect with that which is timeless and eternal while being bound by time in an earthly body.

The Day Barque is published bi-annually by the Apollo Poetry Society in the foothills of Northern California. The Day Barque contains poems, stories, paintings, drawings, and other works of art from contributors worldwide, all of whom are actively involved in the effort of being present, also known as self-remembering, mindfulness, self-inquiry, prayer of the heart, and know thyself, among many other names.

Our central theme—the journey of the seeker to awaken from sleep—is that at the heart of all the world's great traditions, including Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Sufi, Egyptian, Mesoamerican, Stoic, Platonic, Non-Dualist, the Fourth Way, as well as the principal subject of the world’s epics, myths and fairy tales. In this second issue (Volume 2 - Number 1), we feature contributions from poets, writers, and artists [all current or now-former Fellowship of Friends members] from Rome, Athens, Moscow, Istanbul, London, Prague, Ahmedabad, Cairo, and Apollo, California.

Monday, June 9, 2014

"A Time for Healing"

[ed. - In response to Greg Holman’s Letter to the Editor concerning the Fellowship’s role in the community, former member Lew Neal wrote this Letter to the Editor titled “A Time for Healing.”]
A moral debt has accrued between our foothills community and the Fellowship of Friends (FOF). This present discourse is voiced by a minority of past members and “life people”, and certainly felt by many who remain voiceless.

We are glad the FOF has decided to join in community affairs. What cannot be ignored, though, is the long shadow cast by the FOF behavior for the past 44 years. There were three large lawsuits documenting the reprehensible behavior perpetrated by Robert Earl Burton, the Fellowship of Friends teacher, which is public knowledge that cannot be disputed or denied. The people of this community have a right to sit across from the FOF and discuss what we feel to be a dark aspect of the FOF’s church. It is not enough for the FOF president to pass out sums of money to our poor community groups and believe “all has been forgiven” now.

T.S. Eliot wrote, “The last temptation is the greatest treason – to do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

For the FOF to have acted religiously superior toward “life people” in this community for 44 years, and now wanting to inject their commerce among us for their economic benefit without a mention of their past ill treatment, displays one tenet FOF holds near and dear – intentional insincerity.

There are many of us past members living in and around the foothills community. We are neither fearful nor distrustful; rather, we are well informed and stalwart in the face of the FOF president’s self-serving and patronizing editorial position. It is true that for most of the “town’s people’', the FOF has been a very poor community member; and 44 years is enough time to wait for healing. We all, on both sides, have hurt long enough with denial as our guide.

We call upon the FOF to heal this rift by sharing a town hall meeting of discussion, within the bounds of mediation/reconciliation. If the FOF feels unjustly “judged”, come forth and communicate with community members. We beseech thee to be brave, be courageous in knowing: “We heal a system by connecting more of it to itself"; that we all do not have to like each other, but our Christian mandate says we MUST forgive each other. We are all mature enough now to accept responsibility for the past; that’s the process. Let’s be more than the past was able to squeeze from us.

Bless us, Everyone,

Ms. Lew Neal

71 years of age; ex-FOF member;Years With The Fellowship of Friends:
1976 to 1984; retired court reporter of 34 years; et al.

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion> blog, July 14, 2014:
Ms. Lew Neal [responding to above],

Welcome to the blog. Greg Holman may be ignoring your open letter, but he’s suddenly eager to speak about “community” (at least the Fellowship’s concept of community.) You probably saw this in the (Marysville-Yuba City) Appeal-Democrat:
Grape expectations: North Yuba County is attracting notice for its burgeoning wine industry
…Greg Holman, president of both Renaissance and winery owner Fellowship of Friends, said the actual goal is to “be a really nice regional winery” that can serve as the hub for area agri-tourism.
“We just want to be part of the community,” said Holman. “We want to be part of that. We are part of the history.”
The Fellowship welcomes the public’s dollars but is not so comfortable with the inevitable exposure (unless a message can be carefully controlled, as through a compliant reporter like the Appeal-Democrat’s Eric Vodden.)
Since the 70s, there has been this dynamic at work in Oregon House. The Fellowship relies on mutually-beneficial relations with locals and visitors, while simultaneously seeking insulation from those they characterize as unsophisticated “life people” and “sleeping machines,” those people who are wasting their time on earth (except, of course, when they are purchasing Fellowship products.)
With the “Dambeck-Holman-Vodden triad” in place, we will certainly see more from the Fellowship P.R. campaign.
[ed. - In a Letter to the Editor, Steven Dambeck chimes in, praising the Appeal-Democrat's reporting.]

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Apollo Camelot

Photo source

[ed. - Another enterprise of the non-profit Fellowship of Friends is "Apollo Camelot" which operates on the Fellowship's Oregon House estate. As usual, the association with the Fellowship of Friends (a cult) is omitted. From the website:]
Apollo Camelot is located in Northern California, an hour and a half north of Sacramento. Nestled in the Sierra Foothills, we raise bactrian and dromedary camels.

We breed for white, and have several white bulls from diverse bloodlines. We also raise Arabian horses, Rare French Poitou donkeys, Water buffalo, Royal Yaks, Nubian and Cashmere goats.

Our animals are cared for with the highest standards by a team of passionate and dedicated people. If you wish to know us better, you are welcome to contact us and set an appointment to visit our location.
With selling prices of $18,000 and $20,000 for these animals, it could be a very profitable undertaking.

[ed. - Zoos are not necessarily a novelty in Oregon House. For years, local Chuck Trantham housed the Foothill Game Farm on his property, featuring exotic animals from around the world.]

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fellowship of Friends President Greg Holman responds

I very much like Gregory of Nissa’s thought: “If evil was presented to us as it really is, unadorned with some semblance of good, we would not fly to it so easily." - Robert Earl Burton
Letter to the Editor, Territorial Dispatch
Fellowship; Part of the Community
by Greg Holman, President, Fellowship of Friends

Over the last few weeks there has been an effort by some to use the Fellowship of Friends to influence the Yuba County 5th District Supervisor’s race. This effort has taken the form of numerous public communications making unsubstantiated claims that the Fellowship is a cult and then trying to tie a candidate to the Fellowship to try and discredit the candidate. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for some to be fearful and distrustful of what is different or what they don’t understand. The Fellowship has dealt with this in the past by trying to work quietly and privately to educate these individuals about the Fellowship and our beliefs. However, the Fellowship is extremely troubled by this recent activity for numerous reasons and believe this public response is necessary.

First and foremost, the claims and allegations that the Fellowship is a cult and just being associated with the Fellowship should somehow disqualifies a candidate is extremely disrespectful and hurtful to the Fellowship and its many members. The Fellowship is made up of members who care deeply and contribute greatly to the community. These are individuals who donate time, energy and money to schools, libraries, other nonprofits, youth sports teams, (others?) throughout our community. The Fellowship and its Renaissance Winery engage directly with the community through our support of Sutter North Hospice, the TIP program, the Red Cross, the Community Center, the local fire department, the Sheriff’s Department, North Yuba Grown, Good Food Farms, the North Sierra Wine Trail, the Farm Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce - just to name a few. We do what we can when we can and would wish to do more as we can. We ask nothing in return as this is what community supporters do.

The Fellowship also finds these activities disturbing on a much more fundamental level. The Fellowship is a religious organization based, in part, on the belief that through education, the awareness of the beauty inherent around us and in serving others we improve our souls and our individual paths to immortality. We understand that these beliefs and the way in which we practice them may be different than many established religions. However, labeling the Fellowship a cult based on these differences is neither rational nor justified. One of the central principles upon which the United States of America was formed is freedom of religion. To have one group’s practice of this freedom and the right used in the democratic process (which is another of our great country’s founding principles) should be an affront to everyone in our community that values and cherishes freedom of religion and our democracy.

Finally, the Fellowship is troubled by its inclusion in the political process as we are a non-political religious organization. The Fellowship does not get involved in any political campaign nor do we endorse any candidate for any office. As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization we are prohibited from getting involved in any political campaign and take this obligation very seriously. However, equally important, we believe it is the right of each Fellowship member to have the freedom to support whichever candidate he or she thinks best without our involvement. It should be made clear to all members and the general community that the Fellowship does not take a position on, endorse, or campaign against any candidate. In fact, this letter in no way should be read as endorsing or rejecting any candidate for any race.

The Fellowship and its members greatly value being a part of this vibrant community and all the wonderful people who make up this community. It is the belief of the Fellowship that the recent attacks on the Fellowship are based on beliefs held by a small minority. However, for the betterment of our community we believe these divisive tactics should be addressed. We all need and want a harmonious environment to live in, raise our children in and through which we can experience a better life. It is in furtherance of this ideal that we have decided to publish this letter.

We invite you to contact the Fellowship if you have any questions or would like to discuss this with us (530-692-2222 ext. 8217).
[ed. - Despite Greg Holman's wholesome representation, the history of The Fellowship of Friends speaks for itself.]

"WhaleRider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 28, 2014:
@Greg Holman [responding to above]
“…making unsubstantiated claims that the Fellowship is a cult.”
I think a simple public debate with your lord and master Mr Burton about whether or not the Fellowship of Friends is a doomsday, self-serving cult that employs psychological manipulation…and also practices deception, elder abuse, extortion, international smuggling of sex slaves, fraud, tax evasion, (others?) would bring into focus the bigger picture rather than the view of the cult presented through Mr Holman’s beauteous and narrow rosy lens and echoed by followers.

The first issue to tackle in the debate: how you describe water to a fish?

You take him out of water.

If burton were taken out of his element, made to debate in public or in court, there is a darn good chance his mental status would become apparent to more (sadly not all) of his followers who could begin to view him from a distance, break the spell, and begin to reclaim their lives, thus draining the victim pool.
“We all need and want a harmonious environment to live in, raise our children in and through which we can experience a better life.”
This is precisely why the Fellowship of Friends cult ought to be disbanded and its sexual predator leader and enabling board members prosecuted. They need to be confronted publicly in order to raise public consciousness about the cult’s true intent, to exploit and drain others in service of Mr Burton’s sexual mania and grandiosity, causing disharmony in the lives of many people, a small fraction of whom are vocal.

For despite Mr Burton’s self proclaimed exalted status, it is also one of our cherished founding democratic principles that in this great country we are all equals, if not in a monetary/power sense, but at least in principle as individual human beings with human rights and dignity.

(If we could actually incorporate that belief of treating others as equals and conducting ourselves according to this platinum rule, many of the problems facing our communities and the planet right now could be addressed and solved, IMHO.)

But no, some people believe and convince others to believe that they are different or better than others and their corrupt and self-serving actions exempt from scrutiny. This is what I have come to understand about the Fellowship of Friends as a former member these many years down the road.

The entire planet suffers at the hands of sociopaths.

There is now in the public domain a growing list of sexual predators whom have hidden their activities behind the guise of freedom of religion.

So that we all may enjoy a safe and open community, the public needs to be informed and warned that sociopaths and sexual predators are likely to exploit this grey area of law.

The Fellowship of Friends is part of that list, despite the claims of the nominal figure of its Board President.

Make no mistake, ROBERT E BURTON is behind the mask of the Fellowship of Friends.

Hundreds of men, hiding in shame, have been preyed upon by its leader.

The Fellowship’s “increased awareness of beauty” is merely clever packaging for fraud.

The following line makes me sick to my stomach:
“…in serving others we improve our souls.”
Their souls, not ours.

Life people like us don’t have souls.

And please explain exactly how does prostituting yourself or your husband and/or son to enhance your cult status improve your soul?

For that is the fate of most young male followers purposely recruited, groomed, and conveyed to the cult leader by his ardent, colluding older followers, including a minor who contracted herpes from the sexual encounter with the cult’s leader.

[ed. - The Fellowship and Friends. They're rolling out the big guns. These men are determined to set the record straight.]
Letter to the Editor from Greg Holman, Fellowship of Friends President, Renaissance Winery President, Alcouffe Center Vice President, North Yuba Grown member, 37-year member of Fellowship, and Randy Fletcher's business partner

Letter to the Editor from Gary Hawthorne, North Yuba Grown Chairman (replacing Freja Nelson, who resigned in protest over Fellowship vs. community divisions within the organization)

Letter to the Editor from Steven Dambeck, North Yuba Grown Board Member at Large, Fellowship leader, former President of Apollo Olive Oil, member of Fellowship for over 35 years, and Randy Fletcher's business partner

Letter to the Editor from Tom Richards, North Yuba Grown member, and for over 40 years, Fellowship neighbor (7,000-acre Richards Ranch) and supporter

Letter to the Editor from Charles Sharp, Fellowship landowner, investor and Randy Fletcher's business partner, 40-year member of Fellowship

Letter to the Editor from Nick Spaulding, 39-year member of Fellowship, and one of the organization's chief political activists

Posts by "nightshift" on yubafoothills.com and eTerritorial Dispatch , Nick Spaulding attacking critics of Fletcher and the Fellowship (since the first suggestion of a Fletcher-Fellowship connection)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Appeal-Democrat reports on election issues

[Editorial comments follow]

Excerpted from the Appeal-Democrat:
By Eric Vodden/Appeal-Democrat
the race for 5th District supervisor in Yuba County took an unexpected turn with incumbent Hal Stocker running an ad trying to connect opponent Randy Fletcher to the Fellowship of Friends. That ad included a story published on an Oregon-based website that called the Fellowship, followers of Mystical Fourth-Way Christianity, a "cult."

5th District Y.C. supervisor

A political ad that appeared last week generated some new attention in the five-candidate race for 5th District Yuba County supervisor.

The question is whether the paid ad that ran in the Appeal-Democrat brought to the voters a legitimate issue or is a case of dirty politics.

"It didn't bother me," said incumbent Hal Stocker, who purchased the ad that ran May 18. "As far as I am concerned it was factual. I don't see any reason to criticize it."

The ad links opponent Randy Fletcher with the Fellowship of Friends organization. It includes an article by Eric Salerno of Browns Valley that appeared on the Oregon-based website Salem-News.com.

Salerno, listed as a contributor to the website, said Thursday he received no payment from the Stocker campaign, but that he gave permission for its use. He noted that Fletcher had first agreed to be interviewed and then backed out.

"I had interviewed three of the candidates previously and he was next on the list," Salerno said. "My motivation is to get the candidate's story and print it."

A Marysville insurance agent who lives in Browns Valley, Fletcher is one of four candidates seeking to oust Stocker, who is seeking a sixth term. Others running are former supervisor Don Schrader, Jenny Cavaliere and Kathie Thelen.

Fletcher said he preferred to not respond directly to the ad. However, he emphasized he is not a Fellowship member and that any connections he has with members are through his business or in helping organize community events.

"I don't want to go there," Fletcher said of the ad. "It's not healthy for the community."

Stocker said Thursday he has concerns about somebody being on the board who would support what he claims is the Fellowship's goal to develop its 1,000 foothills acres. He called the Fellowship a "special interest group" whose desires are out of step with the rest of the district.

"I am interested in land use," said Stocker. "I am interested in what happens to the countryside."

Stocker noted that Fellowship member Steven Dambeck and Fletcher work together on North Yuba Grown, an organization formed to promote foothills farm products. And he said North Yuba Grown events are being held on Chestnut Grove property owned by Fletcher.

"He (Fletcher) would do whatever they want," Stocker said. "As it relates to land use, you have to have concerns he would vote for their projects. That's where his political base is."

Fletcher said he has no knowledge of any developments the Fellowship might have planned. And he said that he and Dambeck, along with Fellowship president Greg Holman, are "business associates with interest in the community."

Dambeck, who supports Fletcher, said he expects "politicians to overstate what their opponents' position is."

"Nobody wants large development," he said. "The economy doesn't bear it."

The ad, which refers to the Fellowship as a "cult," also includes photos of Fletcher with Dambeck and Holman. It identifies Dambeck as president of Fellowship-connected Apollo Olive Oil, though Dambeck said he sold his interest in the company "seven or eight years ago."

Fletcher said the photo with Dambeck was taken during a Yuba County Alliance for Development meeting in which Dambeck won a door prize. The other with Holman, he said, was taken during an Italian Night event sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Marysville.

Dambeck, recently hired as the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce's director of tourism, called the ad "a pretty cheap shot." He said he has no "leadership role" with the group.

"We are business people who have a spiritual direction," he said.

[ed. - One obvious reason why Randy Fletcher has been able to run such a positive campaign, and avoid "going there" with "unhealthy" attacks, is that he has people like Fellowship members Nick Spaulding and Charles Sharp to do his dirty work.

While it is good to see Steven Dambeck and Randy Fletcher publicly comment on alleged conflicts of interest, they each in their own way manage to sidestep issues. Salerno's article (cited in the A-D story) contained obvious errors, two being the statement that Apollo Olive Oil is a Fellowship of Friends-owned business and Dambeck its President. Dambeck's LinkedIn profile states he was with Apollo Olive Oil from 1999-2009. Still, he seems to employ the association when convenient, and avoid it when inconvenient.

Dambeck clearly understates his "leadership role." As a prominent member of the Fellowship community for over 35 years, he has served the Fellowship in various official roles, and as an organizer of businesses and local community projects involving the group, he is certainly a "Fellowship leader." But Dambeck's strategy is often to "lead from behind," as an adviser or consultant.

Fletcher neglected to mention Charles Sharp, so Sharp's status in the business partnership remains unclear. The Fellowship organization may not be seeking development of lands, but individual members certainly are. Nicholas Spaulding has for years been representing Fellowship interests during county planning processes that might promote or restrict development in Oregon House.]
 
Steven Dambeck responds, Letter to the Editor, Appeal-Democrat [ed. - Link now defunct]
Letter: Re: Hal Stocker
Sunday, May 25, 2014 12:01 am

Permit me a few words about Hal Stocker's paid advertisement in last Sunday's paper.

In his campaign ad, Mr. Stocker said two things about me and Apollo Olive Oil, both of them wrong. I am not in any business role connected to Apollo Olive Oil, and neither is the Fellowship of Friends.

It should be a cause for concern for all of us that an elected official would spread misinformation about things so easily verifiable on public record. But much more important is the question: Why isn't he simply proud to have Apollo — one of the most highly regarded olive oils in the world — up in our neck of the woods?

Why, rather than celebrating a true local success story, does he instead attempt to throw mud on it, based simply on the religious beliefs of its owner? Nothing could be more un-American. And nothing could be less suitable in the character of a supervisor for Yuba County.

Steven Dambeck
Oregon House
[ed. - The moral outrage Dambeck expresses above, serves to distract attention from substantive allegations, and to counterattack Stocker. After all, Fletcher’s opponent is by definition Dambeck’s opponent. In his attack, Stocker irresponsibly used an article with obvious mistakes.

In response, Dambeck again chooses his words carefully. The Fellowship does not own Apollo Olive Oil, as the article states, but there is indeed a business relationship between the two parties involving use of olive trees and facilities located on Fellowship property. (All the Apollo Olive Oil videos in this series appear to be on location at the Fellowship compound: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEmswO-QS2U6dACKrQRkjgg. Also notice the video of Dambeck walking the Fellowship's Renaissance vineyard.)

Update May 27, 2014: An interesting article appears in this morning's Territorial Dispatch: "Fletcher's business permits in question". If the report is accurate, it would be rather curious that two experienced entrepreneurs such as Randy Fletcher and Steven Dambeck would simply overlook this basic business requirement.]

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fellowship members' latest foray into local politics

Fellowship of Friends President Greg Holman, Fellowship investor Charles Sharp with 5th District Candidate Randy Fletcher
Photo accompanying first article below: Yuba County 5th District Supervisor candidate Randy Fletcher,
with Fellowship of Friends President Greg Holman and Fellowship  investor Charles Sharp.

 [ed. - The political activities of Fellowship of Friends members Steven Dambeck, Charles Sharp, Greg Holman, and Nick Spaulding are drawing attention from observers in Yuba County and beyond.

Long-time Fellowship employee and political operative Nicholas Spaulding is actively engaging in negative campaigning against opponents of candidate Randy Fletcher, who until recently was is in a business partnership with Sharp and Dambeck. As noted below, Spaulding may be assisting District One Supervisor Andy Vasquez's re-election campaign. Andy recently voted in favor of the Fellowship's claim for a $520,000 tax refund from Yuba County. (Still, the Board voted to deny the request.) If it is found that these efforts are the result of an officially-orchestrated campaign and/or involve church assets, they may be violating 501(c)(3) tax exemption rules. (See below.)]

From the IRS Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations:

All IRC section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, must abide by certain rules:
  • their net earnings may not inure to any private shareholder or individual,
  • they must not provide a substantial benefit to private interests,
  • they must not devote a substantial part of their activities to attempting to influence legislation,
  • they must not participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, and
  • the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.

From YubaFoothills.com, May 14, 2014: New Article Ties Randy Fletcher to Cult


From the Territorial Dispatch, May 5, 2014:

Fellowship Becomes Issue in Political Race
As it has been said many times, “Follow the money trail.” In this case follow the wine trail to Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Fellowship of Friends, and there you will find the biggest supporters of Randy Fletcher, candidate for supervisor in the 5th district.

Do you remember all of the lawsuits that have been brought against the Fellowship and Robert Earl Burton? Do you remember what they were about? Please take the time to Google them or go to robertearlburton.blogspot.com.

According to this cult, all of us are walking dead people. Why do they want to get involved with us dead folks now, and what is their motivation to get a supervisor in their back pocket?

Is it possibly because of events occurring around 2012 when the Fellowship lost most of their paying members? Prior to this time, their leader forbid them to get involved politically. The word is they had a meeting and decided to start reaching out to the community. Do they have a strategy? Why did they start getting members to register to vote (those who are legal)? We wonder why they began sending certain members out to schmooze with politicians and worm their way into local politics. Some are writing articles to discredit the incumbent candidate and other candidates. Some of these were going to the Republican Party Central Committee meetings and interrupting spouting out their agendas.

Was part of their strategy to put fear into people that the government was going to control their property rights and a lot of other rhetoric? Some of our citizens have bought into this nonsense and have taken the Kool-Aid. Folks, in case you haven’t taken a look at cults and how they operate, just one of their strategies is to put fear into people, brain wash them, schmooze them until they drain their life and finances.

Some of the Fellowship’s well known members are Charles Sharp, Nick Spaulding, Greg Holman, and Steve Dambeck. In an article in the April 30th edition of the Appeal Democrat, Sharp admits his business relationship with candidate Randy Fletcher. Nick Spaulding continues to write articles in the TD about Hal Stocker. Nick has attached himself to 1st district Supervisor Andy Vasquez. Where you see Andy, you will see Nick. Vasquez recently voted, not once, but twice to give tax money paid to Yuba County back to the Fellowship. Greg Holman seems to control the Alcouffe Center in Oregon House as do many of the Fellowship members. Dambeck has made it to the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce where his status will surely provide benefit to his partner Randy Fletcher and the Fellowship.

With one supervisor, Vasquez, seemingly in the Fellowships’ embrace, adding Fletcher as an ally seems to forward the cults’ objectives. A former cult member says “The Fellowship of Friends’ tentacles reach into every non-profit in the North Yuba area. The cult has long sought to exploit any channel of public funding available. In this endeavor, a sympathetic supervisor can be an important ally and valuable asset.”

The husband and wife that solicited Randy Fletcher to run are now considered hypocrites by the community. What happened to their conservative family values and government by the people points of view?

Folks, please verify this for yourself and let us stop the tentacles from choking the life out of this community. Protect our youth and innocent people and pray that we don’t wind up with another supervisor that is beholding to the Fellowship of Friends.

Louise Reid
Brownsville, CA
[ed. - See also: Territorial Dispatch Article Ties Randy Fletcher to the Cult :( ]


From Salem-News.com (May-10-2014 23:09)

Randy Fletcher Yuba County District 5 Supervisor Candidate Linked to Cult


It has been my experience that when a candidate dodges a question or interview that there is something their [sic] hiding.

(SACRAMENTO) - These past few months of March-May are exciting times for a candidate running for office. It's a chance to get out and explore the community and hear from the people who live there.

In Yuba County, there are four candidates competing for the District 5 Supervisor seat held by long time incumbent Hal Stocker.

However, out of the competing candidates, only one has recently been accused of being tied to a religious cult located in the Yuba Foothills called the Fellowship of Friends.

Recently, in an opinion column article of the Territorial Dispatch, a woman named Liouse [sic] Reid wrote a piece exposing candidate Randy Fletcher as the golden boy of the Fellowship of Friends.

She claimed that the cult was looking to expand it's grasp of local politics and a Supervisor on its side would be a strong ally.

Initially, after reading the opinion article, I admit I was skeptical. But the investigative reporter inside me wanted answers. On Wednesday, May 7th 2014, I contacted Randy Fletcher's office to see about interviewing him on a variety of subjects. My phone call was returned by Crystal Martin who said she was Randy's campaign manager.

Continue reading at: Salem-News.com (May-10-2014 23:09)

From YubaFoothills.com, May 7, 2014: Randy Fletcher Tied to Cult 

[ed. - The letter below references the numerous Fellowship landholders pressing to subdivide and develop their properties. Nick Spaulding has for years been campaigning to kill any legislation the would restrict such development, and Fletcher apparently supports this. In conjunction with these efforts is Randy Fletcher's campaign to bring more water to the community (via the New York Flat Dam Project that Fletcher is promoting.) ]

From Appeal-Democrat, May 23, 2014:
Letter: Re: Hal Stocker

How do know you what to believe when it comes to our candidates for supervisor 5th District? Look to the agenda of his/her biggest supporters/backers. It is my opinion that Randy Fletcher's supporters are two entities most interested in changing the land use criteria of the foothills.

Renaissance Winery, et al, and Soper Wheeler want to develop large areas of rural land into housing development.

Do we really want this quiet and peaceful area to change with all that these developments will bring? Vote to protect our rural open spaces, and the natural beauty of the foothills. Do we really want to be as busy and crowded as Grass Valley, even Penn Valley? Remember why you chose this area.

Vote for the one that you can trust to keep his word about preserving our rural community, Hal Stocker.

Donna Corson

Dobbins

Posted on eTerritorialDispatch.com, May 19, 2014:
If Randy Fletcher is being groomed by Fellowship of Friends members to do Robert Burton and the Fellowship’s bidding, it is quite possible Randy is not even aware of the fact. (This, despite Randy's close ties with Steven Dambeck and Charles Sharp through their North Fork Yuba River business partnership, and through the mutual promotion of their other business interests.)

Randy would be just one of the latest in a long line of people lured and deceived by Burton and his agents. To date, an estimated 15,000 spiritual seekers have joined, and then left, the Fellowship of Friends, choosing to walk away despite Burton’s repeated warnings that to leave his “church” would doom them to “a fate worse than death.” (Seriously, those are his words.) Most eventually realized Burton had deceived them, and that his “church” was a scam. (The Fellowship currently numbers approximately 1,500 members worldwide, with roughly one-third of those in and around Oregon House, CA.)

Though Fellowship of Friends President Greg Holman directly serves founder Burton, and despite the outward appearances, it is conceivable that behind the political efforts of Holman, Dambeck, Sharp, and Spaulding there is absolutely no hidden Fellowship agenda. It’s difficult to believe, but possible.
Among those with first-hand experience in the Fellowship, a natural skepticism arises from a 44-year history of Fellowship secrecy and, frankly, lies perpetrated by Burton. (For example, it was only after twenty years of claiming celibacy, while all the while abusing male heterosexual followers, that Burton admitted having “consensual” sexual relationships with followers – hundreds of them. For decades, the secret was kept from the vast majority of his flock. Only after a lawsuit brought Burton's secret sex life to the front pages of newspapers did Burton acknowledge his lie. And even then, the reclusive and cowardly Burton could not publicly confess his deception, but had his ministers announce it to the assembled congregation. It is reported that Steven Dambeck, one of those who had engaged in the secretive “consensual” affairs, led that meeting.)

The list of charges against Burton is long, and well-documented. His behaviors have precipitated lawsuits. Legal settlements involved insurance payouts and the liquidation of assets, resulting in severe financial hardships for the Fellowship in general and its membership in particular. But by all accounts, Burton has never been held to account for his alleged crimes. Our Constitution and legal system affords a “church” every protection and benefit of the doubt. (Witness the difficulties victims of abuse in the Catholic church, the Protestant church, and the Church of Scientology have had trying to hold their abusers accountable.) Very early on, Burton, like L. Ron Hubbard before him, recognized the legal and tax benefits of declaring his spiritual advice racket a “church.” Ever since, the citizens of Yuba County (and beyond) have subsidized Burton’s enterprise.

The Fellowship of Friends is first and foremost a business that, since 1970, has served Robert Burton's greed and lust. Burton is a deluded charlatan, and this can be demonstrated through his own words and deeds. Thus, we have Burton's most devoted followers continually urging us to “pay no attention to that man (or cult) behind the curtain.” They would hate to have such a lucrative scheme come crashing down.

Tim Campion
Santa Rosa, CA

"Mick" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 12, 2014:
Circa 1978 Fellowship members were asked to register & vote for Charlie Parker for County Supervisor. With their help he won, though he proved to be kind of a dud and nothing much happened.

The Fellowship has a long history of ignoring the community and the rules for civil behavior. They closed off Dixon Hill Road to the public which traverses their property for a couple of miles from North to South. My research indicates that the Right-of-Way for this roadway remains in effect until formally abandoned. (If the County were to vacate their interest there is a lengthy procedure to be followed and normally the County would be compensated.) Their massive earth moving for terracing the defunct vineyard caused a great deal of erosion and the state had to step in to enforce some mitigation and clean up efforts. They built their “Theatron” without permits. They continue to lavishly & wastefully spend huge amounts of money on landscaping, objects d’ art, lawyers and the finest jewels, trinkets, clothing & “companionship” for their (make no mistake) absolute leader Robert Burton.
Since this was a recent issue with the Board of Supervisors it would be appropriate to ask Randy Fletcher if he would vote in favor of returning some of their property tax dollars.

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 19, 2014:
183. Mick [referring to above]

I believe that was the first time I ever voted, Mick. (I sure wasn’t interested in local politics.) We thought it was pretty funny that, with the Fellowship’s few hundred votes in and around Oregon House, we could determine the outcome of an election.

In retrospect, it was likely illegal.

"Mick" added on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 13, 2014:
I wonder if the “book liberating octave” [project] is still in operation, wherein books are stolen from public libraries. These folks are not upright citizens. Librarians beware. [ed. - Mick refers to a early project involving petty crime, when the Fellowship was "assembling" its own library. Remember, if not for the efforts by Fellowship members to move these things to Apollo for safe-keeping, all these works would eventually be destroyed during the Fall of California or Armageddon. Truly, it was in posterity's best interest.]

From the IRS:
The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations
Under the Internal Revenue Code, [italics added]all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.  Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances.  For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

 On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

Nick Spaulding wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 22, 2014:
Tim: see IRS documents & regulations: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/rr2007-41.pdf see page 1422 “situation 5″ There is plenty of latitude for acceptable and allowable activity well within the law.
Nick Spaulding Letter to the Editor, Territorial Dispatch, April 20, 2014
Charles Sharp Letter to the Editor, Territorial Dispatch, March 31, 2014
 [ed. - See also:  Is the non-profit North Yuba Grown engaging in political activism? on this blog.]