Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Beyond the golden veil, a legacy of shame and silence

[ed. - The recent news about tax refunds, non-profits misbehaving, and deceptive recruiting tactics is trifling compared to what has lain at the heart of The Fellowship of Friends for over forty-four years. And that is the psychological and physical abuse of devotees by a sociopathic "religious" leader. Today, despite the "openness" of the internet and all the revelations it has brought, Robert Burton's abuse of power and violation of his followers' trust apparently continues unchallenged. It is important to remind readers of the many testimonies that fill this history of the cult. In the on-line forum linked below, the blogger "Someone," while claiming to be an ex-member, often speaks in support of the Fellowship, encouraging forbearance and even acceptance of the Fellowship's "insignificant" flaws.]

"Someone" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 13, 2010:
[In response to blogger "brucelevy," an ex-member who reported having been raped by Robert Burton:]

Still the plain facts are that you haven’t been in the FoF [Fellowship of Friends] in the last 25 years or more so I might be knowing certain things better than you.

While I was a member, I took the trouble to check the facts and RB’s [Robert Burton's] sexual circle around 4-5 years ago included 10-14 students out of which 6-8 were more ‘permanent’ and the rest more casual. He did use to ‘replace’ 5-10 students each year. So altogether it used to be around 20-25 students. Out of ~2000 members at that time, it is around 1 percent.

Statistically it is a ‘small circle’ and that’s what I said.

That is a FACT, not an opinion!!!

Essentially 20 or 25 abused students is terrible especially if one gathers all of them along 40 years.

The context in which I was using the term ‘small circle’ (and almost everyone here is an expert of taking things out of context) was that people are still joining because there are VERY ATTRACTIVE elements in the FoF ideas and 1 percent of abused students is relatively small for most of them to notice unless they are part of the victims or close to them.

One cannot ignore the persistence that RB puts on being present. It is an appealing idea for some people (it used to be appealing for many ex-members here, perhaps for most of them). Stating that God is presence can be a powerful idea in the 21st century. If one chooses not to deal with it for what it is, one is missing the opportunity to approach new seekers.

I think that a more balanced discussion would have made this Blog a much better source for new seekers. A balanced approach is more appealing. It has more reasoning and it can be much more convincing.

"Old FOF" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 15, 2010:
In the interests of prospective and current students who may come here for information, I personally don’t want the recent comments by the contributor known as Someone about the scope of the sexual abuse in the Fellowship of Friends by Robert Burton to stand without further comment.

The following has all been brought out in this blog very well (and in much more and better detail) – in the past years. It is so central to the issue regarding the Fellowship of Friends cult and abuse – that it is sort of pathetic that it has to be addressed again (and to an ex-student) – but here goes.

When I left in the mid-1990s I estimate that by that time Robert Burton had likely had sex with over 1,000 of his male students. This was not just a made up figure but an estimate based on serious inquiry.

For example (in retrospect on discovering that this practice was occurring), through various means I was able find that about 40% of the male students in each of the two main centers in which I had been living were seduced by Robert Burton – some very soon (weeks) after they joined.

Still later, I learned of the almost conveyor belt system that was established for young men to travel with Robert – it appeared somewhat coordinated by his “secretaries” – whereby I learned that on balance about two new students were seduced each week, in this manner.

His “symposium” drinking bouts were also a means of seduction for inebriated students.

Finally, for a while I was in a position to know about a number of students who one would never have dreamed would have fallen to Robert – who also at one time or another had been seduced.

These were almost all heterosexual students – and many of them carried large shame and silence.

It’s possible that this has been toned down in recent years, but based on comments by those who seem to be sincere students and ex-students over the past two to three years (on this blog), it seems likely that this pace of sexual abuse if ameliorated at all – has not been by much.

I suspect that Someone is (somewhat) sincere. But I would maintain that her research was / is incomplete at best. And I would ask her to consider that she may be wrong in her numbers by orders of magnitude (add zeros) – that the true story is hidden very well by a master at using student shame and embarrassment to keep such things in the dark.

And I would ask her to consider the effect that her words may have on vulnerable people – if you are wrong (you are). You ought to think about what minimizing does, Someone. In your mind, you are just being honest, but consider that there are others that know more than you do. At the least, you ought to make room for other views, if only to not be a possible accomplice in the whitewash. To join in the whitewash is to be an accomplice – and to accrue terrible karma.

In passing please note again that this debate is not “esoteric.” One of Robert’s conquests hanged himself, one either died or nearly died from anorexia, and at least three had psychotic breakdowns. And these are just the ones that I knew about. Was Robert Burton responsible? In my mind he is, but maybe there were contributing factors. Nevertheless, why is a “conscious” teacher having sex with hundreds and perhaps thousands of his own male students – some of whom are vulnerable, and nearly all of whom were na├»ve sincere seekers?

The idea that Robert Burton’s sexual abuse is more or less confined to a select few would be laughable – if it was not so hideously tragic.

"Thot Plickens" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 12, 2010:
Hono [a blogger], the poster calling themselves “Someone” isn’t sincere about that. Someone knows that Burton doesn’t have a “small sexual circle” (unless there’s a double entendre there somewhere). They know it’s actually a very large group of men spanning four decades. Some people have alleged that Burton has had sexual contact with several hundred, or even thousands, of his followers since the cult was started in 1970. Someone is just here for a little damage control, that’s all. I wouldn’t expect to have a serious conversation with them.

Remember that the commentary on the blog about Burton’s sexual contact with his followers is not a commentary about the sex per se, but it is a commentary about the coercion, the manipulation of his followers, the violation of the trust of his followers, the abuse of power as a cult leader, the numerous lies and deception related to his actions, the utter disregard for the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, and much more. And then there’s the psychological fallout to so many men who were coerced into sexual contact with Burton and felt they couldn’t disobey, and many other related issues mentioned on the blog on all of the previous pages.

"brucelevy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 12, 2010:
[Quoting and responding to "Thot Plickens," above]
“Someone knows that Burton doesn’t have a “small sexual circle”
Actually Someone doesn’t KNOW shit. She’s been pulling neutral facts out of her ass for a couple years now. Even theoretically, how would she even know, first hand, what goes on with Robert’s sex circus. There’s zero chance that she would witness any of it. She sees what she wants to see to justify her absurd “neutral facts”. On the other hand, I know what went on, I was there, It happened to me, I know some of the other victims and knew them when it was going on. There is no value in any of Someones neutral facts, except as they aid her in steeping her life in bull shit.

"brucelevy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 16, 2014:
Same cult, different face…

They’re ALL the same.

"brucelevy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 24, 2007:
[Quoting] 212 Fat Boy
“For instance, I read all these negative stories from former students and I believe they have twisted the facts and the deamonor to suit there purpose;”
Here you are deluding yourself, and I’ll jump on it. I was actually there during the enactment of many of these early “stories”. It also happened to me personally. You can believe it or not, but I’m telling you, they are not only true but accurate representations of what occurred.
You might want to consider the possibility that you have a need to negate or buffer this in order to validate your own faith. That’s fine, but maybe you’re kidding yourself. To refuse this possibility does a great disservice to yourself, and your friends.
Back before RB was forced to “come out” of his idea of “celibacy” he was surreptitiously “doing” only one boy at a time. Even though many of us lived together in the boy cottage, many of us were walking around in a daze asking ourselves “why was it happening to just me”. We were so shell shocked that none of us could assume it was happening to others. No one would speak of it. Finally it became pretty obvious what was happening, that RB was living a lie. Yet RB still clung to the big lie until lawsuits etc. forced a change.
You might be alright with it happening to you. More power to you. But that was your choice. As I mentioned on previous pages, for myself, I divide the “boys” into two groups (not a judgment, just an observation). The idiots and the whores. I was an idiot…enthralled and vain about my access to RB, feeling special etc. The whores (many of whom I loved as friends, though it was hard) more concerned with the gifts, travel, food, cloths etc. who entered the relationships knowing what was coming, but balancing the discomfort against the “toys” one would receive. Everyone, to some extent, does this at different times in their lives. That’s life on earth. At the same time, the spiritual criminality of what was being done exists as it’s own entity. This is what many here have revealed with their stories.
Trust me, very few who have opened their wounds here are adding embellishments to their pain. Yes, it’s through their eyes, but it’s fairly easy to filter the stories and see what the main point is in these revelations.
[ed. - And for some unvarnished looks at life in Robert Burton's inner circle, see "Inner Circle Facts", "The Story of Brian Sisler", and "On Robert Burton's grooming of young men."]

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