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.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fellowship of Friends and Yuba County settle for $310K

Tax-exempt Fellowship of Friends Galleria at Apollo/Oregon House houses Robert Earl Burton and his male harem
The Fellowship of Friends asserts the Galleria “remains exclusively a place of religious worship and ceremonial
religious events,” while others describe it as the playground of the "goddess" Robert Earl Burton and his male harem.

[ed. The Fellowship of Friends and Yuba County have settled a three-year-old lawsuit over the Fellowship's tax-exemption claims. See also, "Fellowship of Friends sues Yuba County over tax status".]
Fellowship of Friends and Yuba County settle for $310K

By Rachel Rosenbaum/

A Yuba County foothills religious organization and the county reached a $310,000 settlement in a lawsuit nearly three years after it was filed.

The Fellowship of Friends, of Oregon House, filed the lawsuit against Yuba County and its Board of Supervisors in 2014, claiming it 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. It asked for a refund and a declaration that the center be protected – through religious exemptions – from future taxation.

The central focus of the suit is the 5,600-square-foot building referred to as the Galleria, which houses collections of books, arts and antiquities which “occupy an essential place in the practices of the Fellowship,” according to the settlement. Formal services, meals and other events of sacramental nature occur at The Galleria, according to the complaint.

The Assessor’s Office investigated and determined that the Fellowship is entitled to a tax year 2017-18 welfare exemption based on religious use for the Galleria Property – which is valued at $3.3 million, according to Appeal-Democrat archives.

According to the settlement, the Fellowship must pay and has paid any taxes owed through tax year 2016-17 for the property, and will be provided with a partial refund of taxes for the years put at issue in the complaint.

The Assessor’s Office determined the Fellowship is entitled to welfare exemptions for some of its additional parcels or portions for tax year 2017-18:

– 3.28 acres of the administrative office.

– 1.07 acres of the Galleria gardens.

– 1.4 acres of the Festival Hall.

– 8.95 acres of the Theatron and its surrounding gardens.

Yuba County will pay the Fellowship $310,452 in a series of three payments: $150,000 within 30 days of the agreement; $85,452 no later than June 30, 2018; and $75,000 no later than June 30, 2019.

In return, both the Fellowship and the county agree to “maintain the status quo of the terms reflected in this agreement for a period of 10 years.”

Specifically, the Fellowship agrees to not file exemption applications with the county for any of its currently assessed properties other than welfare exemption applications for the Galleria Property for a period of 10 years, and will submit annual exemption applications for its exempt property under the welfare exemption.

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,” according to Appeal-Democrat archives. There are 1,600 members of the church in more than 30 countries throughout the world.

The Fellowship sought tax exemption for the Galleria in the mid-1980s, but the county denied the application on the grounds the Galleria was not used exclusively as a museum, the complaint said.

In the early 1990s, the Fellowship obtained a conditional use permit to operate a museum, but the permit required several “burdensome conditions of approval” and the “onerous and expensive conditions” were never initiated and the permit expired, according to the complaint.

The Fellowship closed the property to the public and it now “remains exclusively a place of religious worship and ceremonial religious events.”

Yuba County Administrator Robert Bendorf said settling for approximately half the amount that was originally asked for by the Fellowship is a win for the county.

“Considering the initial lawsuit filed and seeking four years of refunds of taxes, we feel the settlement is very fair to both parties,” Bendorf said Thursday.

CONTACT Rachel Rosenbaum at 749-4771 and on Twitter @RaeRosenbaum.

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