Introduction


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 2007) Fellowship of Friends 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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Fellowship of Friends editor censors Yuba-Sutter LocalWiki

[ed. - Last December, "Taylor R" (Fellowship of Friends director Rowena Taylor?) attempted to whitewash the Yuba-Sutter LocalWiki Fellowship of Friends page. ("LocalWiki is a grassroots effort to collect, share and open the world’s local knowledge.") As shown below, Taylor wiped all critical content, regardless how valid, from this community resource. On March 4th, Gayle Madwin, the creator of this LocalWiki, reverted many of Taylor's edits, commenting, "Restoring links. Please do not delete working links to outside sources," (Those sources include the Sacramento Bee and Marysville-Yuba City Appeal-Democrat.)

Taking things a step further, on May 21st, "Marco Corolli" edited the restored LocalWiki page, and added further detail and many new links, including links to the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, to a new Robert Earl Burton entry, to "Cult Survivor's" recreated Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia page, and to this blog.]

Fellowship of Friends cult in Oregon House/Apollo censors LocalWiki article
"Taylor R's" reputation management effort. Source: Yuba-Sutter LocalWiki

[ed. - The Fellowship of Friends page on the Yuba-Sutter LocalWiki reflecting edits made by "Marco Corolli":]

Yuba-Sutter LocalWiki page for Fellowship of Friends Oregon House Fourth Way cult
Current page reflecting "Marco Corolli's" full disclosure effort. Source: Yuba-Sutter LocalWiki

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Find The Fellowship of Friends on Wikipedia (no, really)

[ed. - A former Fellowship of Friends member (and lead defender of the Fellowship during 2007 Wikipedia edit wars) has returned under the pseudonym "UltraEdit" (aka "Cult Survivor") to create a new Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia page free (thus far) from the partisan debate of the past. Compare the current article with the contentious 2007 draft versions: Find The Fellowship of Friends on Wikipedia (or maybe not)]

The photo of Robert Earl Burton in the Wikipedia article comes from the Fellowship's "Apollo Cavalier" Instagram page.
(It appears the Fellowship's true "Inner Circle" may be comprised entirely of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels!)

Robert Earl Burton's Fellowship of Friends cult Wikipedia page
Screenshot of Fellowship of Friends on Wikipedia

[ed. - Some background on the current Wikipedia project.]

"Cult Survivor" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 1, 2019:
Solartype is too consistent, persistent and organized to be a single person, so I agree with Jess (see comment No. 24) that we are dealing with a group of FOF members working together. We have a precedent: The “Wikipedia octave” ["octave" here roughly means "project"] back in 2007, when 4-5 members (one of them full-time) worked for 3 or 4 months “fighting former students in Wikipedia”, to the extent that Wikipedia decided to delete the article because it was taking its administrators too much time to monitor the page with the constant edits (see link below). A few days after the deletion of the FOF Wikipedia page, I was having lunch with Abraham Goldman, the main lawyer of the FOF at the time, and he told me with a smile, “We won the Wikipedia battle, we wore them out”. Sadly, “Abe” Goldman had a tragic end – he committed suicide in 2011 (see link below).

Still on the topic of lawyers, another lawyer of the FOF, a person named David Springfield (originally David Lubbers), sent a letter to the Board of Directors in 2009 announcing that he was not going to represent the FOF legally anymore because of “a combination of crime, gross carelessness and ignorance of almost all Board members” and “serious crimes have likely been committed and are possibly continuing to be committed by current members on the Board”. His letter also mentioned that he would no longer “Investigate/Monitor the Blog/GF/PR (Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, Greater Fellowship forum), etc.” implying that he or somebody connected to him had infiltrated this blog and the Greater Fellowship site. The FOF was able to have the letter removed from this blog threatening the hosting site (WordPress) with legal action, but a few days later the letter was posted on Wikileaks and it’s still there challenging the bullying tactics of the FOF (see link below). David Springfield/Lubbers was disbarred in 2015 for stealing $100,000 from a client and the last thing I heard is that he is a fugitive in Canada (see link below).

In summary, based on the past history of the FOF, it makes sense that Solartype is not the name of an individual but of an “operation”.

References:

Find The Fellowship of Friends on Wikipedia (or maybe not)
https://robertearlburton.blogspot.com/2007/06/find-fellowship-of-friends-on-wikipedia.html

Abraham Goldman, Fellowship of Friends attorney, commits suicide
https://robertearlburton.blogspot.com/2011/08/abraham-goldman-fellowship-of-friends.html

Censored Fellowship of Friends cult letter from former legal council David Springfield, 2009
https://robertearlburton.blogspot.com/2007/11/lawyer-abandons-ship.html

That Awkward Moment When You Discover a Former “Professor” Is Disbarred
http://sandjack.tv/2017/02/10/1l-awkward-moment-discover-former-professor-disbarred/

"Cult Survivor" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 15, 2019:
Here is an idea: Should we create again a Wikipedia article about the FOF?

I don’t think that this time the FOF will allocate a team to the “Wikipedia octave” like they did in 2007 — their resources are very depleted — so the article probably won’t be deleted (the previous article was removed by Wikipedia because it was taking too much time for the administrators to mediate the “edit wars” between current and former members).

I think it’s worth a try.

We could start with a copy of the previous article that was saved on the Internet Archive (link below) and start editing to see what happens.

Deleted FOF article on Wikipedia:

https://web.archive.org/web/20140118222956/http://en.wikipedia.org:80/wiki/User:Vassyana/FoF/NPOV

Any thoughts?

"Golden Veil" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 15, 2019:
112. Cult Survivor – February 15, 2019 [above]

I think that an article about the Fellowship of Friends belongs on Wikipedia. I disagree with your assumption thatit would not be challenged though; an article about the Fellowship of Friends would likely instigate a back and forth edit war.

I have edited Wikipedia articles and created two entire articles – that are still up – on topics that are not related to cults. Both articles are about people and were initially challenged regarding their notability. The challenges come not from “administrators”, as you call them, but other editors. These editors can be absolutely anyone writing on Wikipedia. Some people with more experience especially take it upon themselves to scrutinize new articles – and assist new writers.

I looked over the old Fellowship of Friends article on Wikipedia that you linked and there is a BIG problem with it: there are almost no footnotes. EVERYTHING in a Wikipedia article must be footnoted and from a “credible” source. Personal, first hand experience and personal opinions are not acceptable. Also, quoting from blogs like this one, the Robert Earl Burton Blog, the various podcasts and videos, and the Rick Ross and Steve Hassan cult websites – none of these would be considered credible sources and should not be quoted from. BUT all of these “non-credible” blogs and websites are remarkably good sources to find what would be considered credible sources, mainly newspaper articles written about the Fellowship of Friends.

I only skimmed the article you linked to look for footnotes and haven’t read it, but if you think it is a good article, you could start with it and simply edit it – rewrite it as needed – and seek supporting sources for ALL of the information already written and add in footnotes. Documentation of sources are needed for literally for every sentence in footnote form. It is best to use a varied number of sources; don’t use one newspaper article for all your sources.

If you really want to take this on, I suggest that you write it offline first. The next step would be to put it on a draft form on Wikipedia in a sandbox and enlist the assistance of an experienced editor to help you. You could write to one of the main editors of the Heaven’s Gate article on Wikipedia, for example. Once it is published and no longer in your sand box, anyone at all can make changes. A factual and neutral tone is best. I recommend that you read the Wikipedia article “Wikipedia: Your First Article” – especially the sections entitled “Gathering References”, “Things to Avoid” and “And Be Careful About…” Most editors create a user profile first and then start out by editing existing articles – before writing an article themselves. The work of people who write without a user profile is usually eliminated. Most people write using pseudonyms, though.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Your_first_article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_%28religious_group%29

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 15, 2019:
Regarding another Wikipedia page, I would say, why reinvent the wheel?

If one is interested in the history of the Fellowship of Friends, I can make no stronger recommendation than robertearlburton.blogspot.com [this site]. It is searchable by subject and tags, and organized by date, has tons of accompanying images and videos. It would be hard to duplicate the density of useful information and the man–years that have gone into creating this site, IMO.

If one is interested in lively to–and–fro, arguments about the FoF from both sides, the early pages of this blog (2007-2010) are worth going through [see links to "Fellowship of Friends Discussion" in sidebar]. The later pages have very little input from followers because they were given a ‘suggestion’ by Girard Haven (which then turned into a ‘task’) to not engage on the blog—that fact speaks for itself, of course.

If one wants to keep these sites at the top or near the top of the search results, they have to be active and have ‘good’ links to and from them. The particulars of Google’s search algorithms are a ‘secret sauce’, of course, but it is known that they rank links by ‘quality’, based on traffic, the links to them and their ‘quality’, and so on.

I’m an average user, so I start with something like Google Search, key in “Robert Earl Burton Fellowship of Friends” and up comes the REB site. I look around for anything new, then end the session by going to the left of the page and clicking on the latest entry on this blog, and thus arrive here. After catching up, I go on to Google News, very briefly since there is usually nothing of actual value to me there. I’m just registering my presence on the most important news aggregator and establishing a strong link from this site.

That way, I have a chain of strong links to and from the websites I’m trying to ‘train’ Google Search to rank higher.

The more folks that do something along these lines, the higher up the rankings for both these sites.

And anyone who knows how to improve search rankings for these sites (without paying for adverts), please chime in!

I know it is petty, but I am always encouraged by Linda Kaplan’s supposed comment from a decade ago,
"The Blog is the worst thing that ever happened to the Fellowship”
Linda, I know we can’t agree on much, but I can certainly agree with you on that!

"Cult Survivor" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 15, 2019:
113. Golden Veil [above]

You said: “I think that an article about the Fellowship of Friends belongs on Wikipedia.”

Yes, it does. It adds credibility to this blog and Tim’s REB site. People tend to think that what Wikipedia says is “official” because it can be challenged. Besides, Wikipedia is much more succinct and organized than this blog and even Tim’s REB site, even if this last one is pretty well organized. Finally, Wikipedia has an air of “neutrality” that this blog and Tim’s REB site lack.

You also said: I disagree with your assumption that it would not be challenged though; an article about the Fellowship of Friends would likely instigate a back and forth edit war.

I wouldn’t be so sure about that. I asked my friend that is still in the FOF and she told me that of the 4 people that were in the “Wikipedia octave” in 2007, 2 are out of the school, one passed away and one is in his 80’s and lives now at a center. She agrees with me that the FOF doesn’t have the resources and the energy to engage in another Wikipedia war.

Thank you for the tips about how to create an article; I created a couple of articles myself in the past so I have some experience.

I will go ahead and create the article. Let’s see what happens.

"Cult Survivor" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 15, 2019:
115. Ames Gilbert [above]

You said: “Regarding another Wikipedia page, I would say, why reinvent the wheel?”

It’s not my intention to reinvent the wheel, it’s more to add credibility to this blog and Tim’s REB site, as I said above. For the FOF, it would be like adding insult to injury, so to speak.

You said: “I know it is petty, but I am always encouraged by Linda Kaplan’s supposed comment from a decade ago, 'The Blog is the worst thing that ever happened to the Fellowship.'”

My aim recreating the Wikipedia article is for Linda to say “The Blog is the worst thing that ever happened to the Fellowship, and on top of that the Wikipedia article is back. Oh boy.”

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 15, 2019:
Cult Survivor, I salute you for making this effort, and wish you every success. And it seems like you know what you are doing, and are not naïve about the work it entails.

As for the value of my advice—when Tim Campion suggested starting up the REB website, I recommended against it…

Ha! So much for my wisdom and foresight! I’m very glad he didn’t let any naysayers get in the way of his vision and the actualization of that vision, and I’m sure countless others are as well.

Again, best of luck!

P.S. my supposed wisdom and foresight led me right into the Fellowship of Friends. You could hardly find a better example of why I or anyone else should disregard such!