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 an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will 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
on official Fellowship publications and websites,
news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, 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.

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, Nick Spaulding attacking critics of Fletcher and the Fellowship (since the first suggestion of a Fletcher-Fellowship connection)

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