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. 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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Fellowship of Friends Membership 1970 to 2019

Fellowship of Friends membership tracking from 1970 through 2019
Fellowship of Friends membership from 1970 to 2019

For the first dozen years, the Fellowship routinely published membership tallies which proudly demonstrated the success of early recruiting efforts. However, by 1980 growth had slowed and subsequently showed a slight decline. In November 1981, it was announced  "census" numbers would no longer be published. From 1982 until 2007, membership figures are drawn from articles published in the press, in magazines, and occasionally found in legal documents. Typically, a Fellowship spokesperson provided an approximate population (giving rise to "plateaus" in the chart.) Since 2007, official Fellowship rosters have often been "shared" with non-members, resulting in fairly transparent membership counts.

In 2006, a blog article published by The Esoteric Sheik of Inner Confusion generated a public dialog that eventually contributed to the Fellowship's decline. It remains unclear whether the Fellowship ever reached the peak of 2,200 active members "officially" reported between 2005 and 2007.

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