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.")

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. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Former Yuba County Supervisor Hal Stocker issues "report card" on successor Randy Fletcher

Yuba County Supervisor Randy Fletcher with Fellowship of Friends President Greg Holman and Charles Sharp

[ed. - Former long-time Yuba County 5th District Supervisor Hal Stocker was defeated in 2014 by Randy Fletcher. Fellowship of Friends members organized a vigorous campaign against Stocker, including a pro-Fletcher get-out-the-vote effort that was reportedly encouraged by Fellowship leader Robert Burton. At the time, this blog raised questions of improper use of church facilities and resources for political campaigning, including Robert Burton using official church gatherings to endorse a political candidate, a violation of the IRS tax code.]
Hal Stocker's Letter to the Editor of the Territorial Dispatch, January 20, 2017:
Report Card

Well, it's been a couple of years since Randy Fletcher was elected Yuba County supervisor to serve the fifth district (mainly foothills), so it's about time for an evaluation to see if we are getting our money's worth. Let's start by looking at his campaign promises, to see how well he is fulfilling them:

1 . Build a dam on New York Flat Road

2 "Eliminate all county building and planning fees."

3. Increase "interest income". (The county has no idea what this means.)

4. "I will bring back the use of non-violent inmates to clear fire lines, to clear road-sides..." (This was already being done by the Yuba Fire Safe Council)

5 "Expand ambulance service to foothills" (After a study, a supervisor recommended "no change.").

So, how well did Randy fulfill this ambitious agenda???

It looks like he struck out...completely....according to the record, as I make it out. I haven't seen any sign of action on any of those items...and, just as well, since it was a weird list, in my opinion.

So, if Randy has not been working on "his list," what has he been doing?

My main concern is how hard he is working for the people who mainly financed his campaign, i.e. the large land-owner- developer, and would-be-developer (inside and outside of Yuba County). It is clear he has been bought off by people who expect to make money by favorable supervisors' decisions

In this regard, Randy's main effort so far has been the attempt to ramrod the "cluster housing" project in the upper foothills, with virtually no public notice or input. At a supervisor's meeting on July 21, 2015, Fletcher put his blessing on the cluster idea and let the staff know he wanted it done his way and SOON, and he thanked certain Fellowshippers ---(from the Fellowship of Friends) for their help in the process.

Fletcher disregarded the fact that a local survey showed 97% of the respondents to be against the so-called cluster project. (Who are you working for, Fletcher?) Yes, this is the sort of thing that worries me, with paid -for supervisors. The cluster fiasco crashed after the county received a 20-page letter from San Francisco law firm Shute, Mihaly, and Weinberger, stating "The project is flatly inconsistent with General Plan policies limiting density and prohibiting clustering outside Rural Community Boundaries." Etc. etc. The county surrendered, with nary a wimper!

And Fletcher seemed oblivious to the huge damage allowed by "clustering"!

The project would allow for wide-open subdivisions, taking over open-space and ag land and using scarce water, increasing fire problems, greatly increasing the population..and essentially doing away with the Community Boundary system. It would take over a huge area of land, all of the county north of Collins Lake!

So, how do we grade Fletcher on this one? I'm with the 97%. I say he flunked.

Hal Stocker

Challenge, Ca.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Fellowship of Friends Payment Guidelines and Donation Slip - 2017

[ed. - The Fellowship of Friends generally prefers the term "donation" to the less forgiving "payment" or "tithe." But the Fellowship has levied tithes on its members since 1970. Just for fun, I've included a couple comments from the Quora topic "Is paying tithing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints optional?" The bottom comment introduced me to a new, and fitting term: "disfellowshipped." See also: 1984 Payment Guidelines.]

"Alina Smith" wrote on Quora, August 12, 2018:
For any member that has a firm conviction resulting from their personal experience of choosing to tithe instead of paying for something else even when it was tough, they know that paying tithing is never optional.

“Church members have been counseled to pay tithing and offerings before paying other expenses, even necessities.” [ed. - Fellowship members were given similar counsel.]

Many people, including members misunderstand tithing.

Tithing at its core, is discharging of a debt. It is not to a lender, but it is to the Lord. When you understand better what He has done for you, then you realize you are always in debt to Him. [ed. - In the Fellowship's case, "Him" is Robert Burton.] Therefore, you are obligated to keep His commandments, including your obligation of paying tithing.

This is also explains why paying tithing on a credit card will never happen in this Church [ed. - Because credit card payments are more easily audited?] and why donating to a charity of your choice will never count as tithing. Tithing is not a monetary gift that we give whenever we want to or something we do when we have some extra money left over after meeting our other expenses. It is discharging of our debt to the Savior.

When you pay your bills on time and in full, you feel peace and stress free. When you know you are an honest tithe payer, not only you feel those same feelings but you receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost and witness for yourself the blessings that come with being a full-tithe payer. [ed. - In the Fellowship, attending "temple" will cost extra.]

A person who lies to their bishop about their tithing status is also a person who is likely to exaggerate to their own family about their finances to make things appear better than they are. As much as you hide the situation from your family, your lenders know what you earn and know what you owe them. As much as you exaggerate to your bishop about your tithing status, The Savior [ed. - or, more likely, his designated agents] knows what you earn and knows what you owe to Him.

Not paying bills on time is serious. The failure to pay tithing is a serious sin. It impairs a person’s spiritual growth and development and it limits spiritual and temporal blessing they can otherwise enjoy. Tithing is obligatory, not optional.

Pay your tithing and be in partnership with Him.

"Aaron Anderson" wrote on Quora, January 31, 2017:
The church I went to as a child required its members to tithe in a 3 year rotation of sorts, 10%, 20%, then 30%!! This caused financial distress on many, but they risked being kicked out, called being “ disfellowshipped”, if they didn't willingly tithe this way. Members were only supposed to associate with other church members, so being disfellowshipped was a terrible punishment which isolated the offender from all family and friends.

To ensure that church got your proper percentage, members had to disclose their incomes to the ministers!! Then this church would mail tithe envelopes to each member, to mail in their contributions.

Nevermind that this was unscriptural (not found in the Bible), or caused burden on church members. If someone didn't pay their tithes, they were told they were stealing from God!!

The leader of this church lived in luxury, riding around in a black limousine. He would fly around the world in a private jet, to “ spread the gospel”.

I stopped attending this church when it collapsed from financial insolvency! Imagine that, a church demanding up to 30% of people's income, or you'd be kicked out and told you're going to hell, going bankrupt?!

This massive empire of a church split into numerous factions after its millionaire founder died, but alot of my now adult friends still go to what's left of it.

Many kids I grew up with became agnostic or atheist, largely in part to how this church twisted the message of Christ into a closed door country club, that taught more from the founders doctrines than from the Bible.