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.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Why do people join cults?" by Janja Lalich

Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups - Revised 

ICSA Today, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2015, 10.

By Michael D. Langone 

PDF Source

Cult Characteristics of Cultic Groups checklist by Lalich and Langone - page 1

Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups checklist - Page 2 - Lalich and Langone

Note: This checklist has gone through many revisions since the author first presented it in the 1990s. Many people have contributed suggestions and feedback to the various revisions, in particular Carol Giambalvo, Janja Lalich, Herb Rosedale, and Patrick Ryan. The current, slightly modified version of this checklist was published in ICSA Today, 6(3), 2015.

Michael D. Langone, PhD, a counseling psychologist, received a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1979. Since 1981 he has been Executive Director of International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA). He has written and spoken widely on cult-related topics and is Editor-in-Chief of ICSA Today.

About Janja Lalich, PhD

[ed. - Additional recommended reading: The Guru Papers. And if you're really determined to join a cult, find help here: Which Cult Should I Join?: A Choose-Your-Own Guidebook for the Spiritually Bereft.]


  1. Hi there (again)!

    Bjorn from Norway here. Just wanted to share some thoughts. Don't have your email anymore, so I comment here.

    Recently I watched a few cult documentaries; about Children of God (COD), the People's Temple and more. I was struck by some similarities between these cults, back then, and FOF and the more obscure Scandinavian Linbu Society. The COD guys used the word "tithe," for example. Same word FOF uses, as in "pay 10% of your income to us (as a tithe)."

    And in light of lots of research I've done the last years, it does seem to me that both FOF and later Linbu were products of some kind of CIA experiment or initiative, and COD and People's Temple too. There are some puzzling "missing pieces" or questions concerning Linbu, such as: Where did all the initial money for buying up so much property come from? And why did the cult leader wear baseball caps with logos of American military entities; and why did he so often make so mentions regarding a connection to the FBI? His brother the Norwegian ambassador to Iceland, btw. Not exactly "small people..."

    Yep, this is my own conviction per this moment. The whole Flower Power was a CIA initiative, and so were the California Cults that rose up at that same time a CIA initiative. Of course, the worst and most corrupt and corruptible key individuals were always used.

    Linbu, like FOF it seems, is dying. btw. Just a handful old pensioners still hanging in there. So soon it'll be the end of it, I'm sure. Wow... what a big experiment it was. With so many damaged people. However, I don't have regrets, actually. I learned so much. But I was 1 of the few who got away without significant PTSD. Maybe you too..?

    OK, shoot me an email if you fee like it:



  2. Oh, I meant COG, not COD. COD's something else. I made a mistake. Please correct! Sorry.