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.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

John Harmer posts "exit interview" with Robert Earl Burton

Exit interview between a member of a cult, and its charismatic leader from John Harmer.

[ed. - John Harmer's introduction to the above video:]
The organisation I joined was called the Fellowship of Friends, and followed the mystical teachings of the fourth way teachers Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. It has had about a thousand members during most of its existence (It still exists). I joined the fellowship in 1978, and stayed for 11 years until 1989. I had recently been told about the fact that the teacher, who we were required not to gossip about on pain of expulsion from the school as they called it, had had a questionable liaison with a younger and vulnerable member of the school, would told me how he felt totally trapped in the situation he found himself in. Burton's idea of fun is to force otherwise basically heterosexual young men to perform sexual acts for his gratification. He wasn't so keen on students who happened by chance to be homosexual themselves. This news that the teacher had "used" someone else so shamelessly for his own gratification, led me to question my continued membership of the organisation then called The Fellowship. I had two questions I wished to put to Robert Burton before I left. I knew full well he would never accept another call, since he would have seen my call as expressing negativity towards himself and his precious C-influence, and not wasted his precious time. The first question I asked him (which is not on the tape, as just at the moment he answered I reached out and accidentally dropped the walkman recorder I was using hooked to mics on the phone casing, was "how many different students have you had sex with?" the tape comes back online as he explains he is very happy with his sex life and hoped everyone else had the same pleasure he had. He had said in that mealy mouthed way "I wouldn't mind telling you but..blah blah", so I picked up on his circumlocution and held him to his word, the answer to my question "How many?" At the time I expected an answer of 5 or so, as he seeemed to have long standing favourites at court. Little did I know that he had by that time had SO many he probably genuinely could not remember how many different students he had "known" biblically. I prefer in any case my second question, which arose out of my studies at the open university showing the limits of our scientific knowledge, let alone this distortion of the original gurdjieffian meaning of C influence, which was direct contact with a living conscious school, and Burton's paranoid take on it, that it was a force composed of 44 angels who communicated with Burton by Idea of reference classic interpretation of every random event as being a cosmic clue as to his real mission The founder of a new era of mankind. He aims high does Robert Earl Burton. So my second question kept pressing for the most generous interpretation of his motivation, which is that he genuinely believes he is in contact with higher forces, and they communicate with him via car number plates etc. I try a few times to let the insight flow into him, that he has no way of knowing. The image is taken from the FoF Blog.

[ed. - Below is the text of the YouTube version of this 1989 interview, with some minor edits.] 
[John Harmer's introduction] This a tape recording of an "exit interview" between a disgruntled student of The Fellowship of Friends and the leader of that cult, a man named Robert Burton.(rb)
What follows is the second part of that recording. In the first part he was asked how many of his students he had had sex with - he declined to give a figure.
One of his main claims was/is to be in direct communications with 44 disembodied spirits of significant cultural figures from the past.
The student (jh) noticed that he appeared to be suffering from "ideas of reference" and doubted this as a procedure to authenticate the claimed origin of these spooky advisors.
Burton (rb) called his imaginary friends Influence C.
jh wanted to probe Burton as to what method, if any, he used to convince himself that the messages are not the products of his own mind.
This the very coinage of your brain:
This bodiless creation ecstasy
 Is very cunning in.  
Hamlet act 3 scene IV (Oh, yes. Shakespeare was one of Burton's cosmic buddies.)
The recording (which dates from 1989) is poor, an old Walkman with a sucker microphone stuck to the phone. Text is provided to assist the listener to catch all the words of wisdom.
jh: The uh, other thing I'd like to know is what method you use to convince yourself that the messages that you think you're getting from C influence are from the source that you say they are rather than perhaps for example your own mind?
rb: Well...well the Gods reveal themselves to me. I...uh...I do not uh...It's not my station....uh I have to say they reveal themselves (by faith?)....They are forming an ark using me...and uh...they—they use a variety of—a variety of means to communicate they—they have somewhat of a physical-metaphysical presence that they use to communicate. This is a relationship of a man number seven to higher school.
jh: Yes. And did you ever wonder if they might be just something in your own mind?
rb: No of course not. Like my mother's name was Shock. My—my mother's maiden name was Velma Shock.
jh: Yes.
rb: So it's a—it's a very kind of brutal experience verifying influence C (because) they have a heavy hand—it's so long as though [or, "I said long ago"] they carry a wand in one hand and a club in the other, you are touched by both.
jh: Yes. I mean if you know how easy it is for people to um become convinced of—of mistaken ideas?
rb: No—no I'm quite aware of it John. In search of the miraculous and I have found the miraculous. Something-something we are given...not—not a right apparently you've forgotten but I—I'm not in imagination at all about influence C. It's very—it's a real carry them, but it's a dear burden and one I would never drop.
jh: I mean you're aware that many people think they are getting messages from strange places.
rb: Oh, I—I know that. Influence C pressures people into reality. You know they...they take people beyond allurement and's no uh easy thing to bear them. Well dear I guess that' time for now. I mean give my love to Barbara and my love to you.
jh: OK. thank you for answering the questions.
rb (or jh): Bye, bye.

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