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.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Jennings Brown reports on 3-year investigation of Fellowship of Friends

[ed. - The following podcast announcement comes from The series also receives mentions on SFGATE, Distractify, geektyrant, Gizmodo, and 1428elm, where The Fellowship of Friends appears in the "true crime" category. Primal Stream Media also reviews the podcast, calling it a candidate for the best podcast of 2021, and lists "Revelations" among the top 25 podcasts of 2021.]

A doomsday cult in Northern California known by wine lovers for their vintage is set to be the subject of a new podcast series from Blumhouse Television and Vespucci.

Spotify will launch Revelations, which premieres on October 3, hosted by The Gateway’s Jennings Brown.

The six-part series tells the story of the Fellowship of Friends, which was founded by Robert Earl Burton, an East Bay schoolteacher who began preaching out of a van in Berkeley in the 1960s before founding the fellowship in 1970 and building it up to around 2,500 members.

The group ran the successful Renaissance Vineyard and Winery between 1982 and 2015.

The series comes from Spotify’s Parcast, created in partnership with Blumhouse Television and Vespucci, the company behind Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Mask of Sanity audio series and Mamoudou Athie’s Chighali. Gilded Audio also produces.

“The echos of NXIVM in Revelations are sadly all too familiar, and make this story Jennings Brown uncovered all the more necessary listening,” said Chris McCumber, president Blumhouse Television.

“After three years of meticulous and unflinching reporting from Jennings, we are delighted for this story to finally come to light. Jennings has an uncanny ability to balance the tightrope of hard hitting journalism and intimate portraits of survival,” added Vespucci co-founders Daniel Turcan and Johnny Galvin.

Jennings Brown added, “I’m glad to finally be sharing the story of the Fellowship of Friends, its members, and its survivors—and I hope this series leaves listeners with a better understanding of the dynamics of spiritual abuse. I appreciate that Vespucci and Gilded Audio understood and supported this story from the beginning, and I’m grateful that Blumhouse Television, Parcast, and Spotify are helping us tell it.”



The Fellowship of Friends is an elite and secretive spiritual organization. Ex-members say it’s a doomsday cult and that its leader, Robert Earl Burton, preys on his followers. On October 20, 2018, journalist Jennings Brown was at the Fellowship’s extravagant compound, observing the final black-tie dinner before the end of the world. Robert had predicted the apocalypse was going to begin the next morning and Jennings wanted to report on the community as it prepared for a global catastrophe. But Jennings soon realized the end-times prophecy was just the beginning of the story. He’d spend the next three years investigating the Fellowship and its dark secrets. Revelations is a Spotify Original from Parcast. Produced by Blumhouse Television, Vespucci, Gilded Audio, Jennings Brown, and Dan Rosato. Hosted by Jennings Brown.

If you have any information you’d like to share about the Fellowship of Friends, please email or leave a voicemail at 347-480-3527.

This series includes discussions of sexual violence. If you are a survivor of sexual assault and need to talk to someone, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.4673 or visit If you are outside the U.S., Pathways Safety International can be reached at 833.SAFE.833.














[ed. - The following link comes from Jennings Brown's Instagram page: The Art of the Scam: The Best Books, Podcasts, and Documentaries About Cults compiled by Alex McElroy.]


"44thWay" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 11, 2021:

#4 Nevasayneva

I agree. I just finished listening to Act VI. The whole series is an admirable piece of work, and I’m amazed at what Jennings Brown managed to do. It also must have required a lot of time editing and putting together. If someone wants to send him a bottle of champagne, I’ll chip in.

I also found it disturbing from the point of view of one who was a member for 27 years. Jennings Brown found out things very quickly that I didn’t know in all that time, and some of which I did not know until I listened to the series. Yes, Elena (#1,2) I was aware of your picketing but I didn’t know what it was about and didn’t find out because Robert forbade us to talk to you.

For me it is particularly disorientating, as one who takes pride in being rational, to realise that I isolated a whole structure of beliefs from critical analysis. I also didn’t enquire further on the rare occasions when someone claimed an injustice. Yet on that score, even if only peripherally, I am guilty.

At least I left when Robert claimed that the Absolute had visited him in the rose garden for a cup of tea or whatever (did the Absolute suck Robert’s dick or did I misunderstand?).

How anyone could stay after that is hard to understand.


 "ton2u" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, November 10, 2021:

I’ll add my thanks here to Jennings Brown and associates for their good works – a public service shedding light on dark places.

Re: picketing the compound, I agree with Ames… from personal experience, back when I lived at “Renaissance” Dorota Star owned a house and property just behind the FOF garden … (a garden as I recall, which kept growing in size and production under Robbie Lichtenberg’s green thumb). After Dorota left the school she regularly made visible efforts to “raise hell” out there on her property demonstrating her anger and outraging at Burden [sic] and the organization supporting him.

At the time, while living inside the “Renaissance” bubble and as a “dyed in the wool true believer” of the lies, I know myself and others of a similar mindset only grew more convinced of our own ‘righteousness’ as Dorota’s protestations continued. I’m pretty sure the same sort of mindset yet persists inside the FOF and certain types of actions will only make the “faithful” more so.

(Wonder whatever happened to Dorota and Robbie?)

As for blind obedience to a blundering oracle, some are unable and will never see the follow-ship of fools for what it is – all frivolous folly designed to fleece the flock in support of the so-called “goddess” masquerading as a man.

A phrase comes to mind: ‘let the dead bury the dead.’


"Nevasayneva" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, November 11, 2021:

Re 44th way. [above]

We were all in the dark to one extent or another while in FOF. The editing of the Jennings Brown podcast is amazing.

Although as per podcast FOF may say – move along move along, nothing to see here, few current FOF members or ex-FOF members will have heard the legal opinions of Ford Greene or Moira Penza (Act V)

Moira Penza Act V

“There is no law against being a cult. The law is against using force, fraud or coercion to have someone engage in specific sex acts”

If I had been mixed up in any force, fraud or coercion, I certainly would not like to find myself across a table from someone like Moira Penza.


"Insider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 13, 2022:

Although this YouTube review,, has limited added value to anyone who has listened to the “Revelations” podcast series about the Fellowship, it is of note that the reviewer considers Revelations to be a candidate for the best podcast of 2021.


"diegoriverassquaretrouserleg" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 14, 2022:

Thanks #82 Insider [above]

I hope the Revelations podcast is a winner and that it and the Fellowship get the attention they rightfully deserve.

Sad to hear those institutionalised old fogeys whacking on about the Gods and poetic beauty.

“Have you ever thought that the God’s wanted a reporter here on the eve of the prediction ?” Says one idiot convinced that Geoffrey Chaucer and Abraham Lincoln have arranged for Jennings Brown to be on hand to witness the fall of California and report favorably on the event. Have you thought that you’ve become a demented buffoon? is my question to you.

He’s parroting the vain, absurd delusions he’s absorbed from Robert Burton, it’s Bobspeak and is characteristic of the true believers of the Fellowship’s inner circle. He’s blissfully unaware that after decades of membership and work on himself he is by now, like so many of them, a psychotic liar who’s convinced he has a working relationship with Socrates and Queen Elizabeth the 1st of England.

“No one lives with this kind of poetry, It’s filled with beauty in every corner, it’s a reflection of our teacher” Says a female version of Uncle Bob, who waxes lyrical about the gauche, decaying, ghastly imitation of taste that passes for proof of genius in Uncle Bob’s Nouveau riche Neverland compound. A chimp on acid in an antiques mall would do a better job at amassing the, “fine impressions” the cult members will enjoy with smug self satisfaction post armageddon and would only require a banana or two in payment.


"Insider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 14, 2022:

83. diego… [above]

Yes, Nick and Judy (and John B and Greg and Peter and Marcus and even Burton) thought they could blind Jennings with fancy receptions in the gardens, unlimited quantities of the best wine, Shakespeare at night in the Theatron, plus all the “uncreated light” and wisdom emanating from Burton and his minions of “conscious” followers floating about Apollo in an endless state of bliss.

But Jennings was not to be blinded by the external show. He never forgot the deep secrets that were being hidden by all the glitter and finery. He knew it was all a fraud despite the “beauty in every corner.”


"diegoriverassquaretrouserleg" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 16, 2022:

The twenty five best podcasts of 2021

1 of 25

Jennings Brown’s previous podcast, The Gateway: Teal Swan, told the story of one woman’s passionate following and examined whether it was, in fact, a toxic cult. In Spotify’s six-part Revelations, Brown investigates the Fellowship of Friends, a California cult (and until 2015, a winery!), and the multiple sexual assault allegations against its founder, Robert Earl Burton.

Speaking with nearly 100 current and former members and paying visits to Apollo, the Fellowship’s compound, Brown’s own revelations include uncovering a possible sex trafficking operation. Ultimately, believers’ blind devotion to the morally questionable Burton is as fascinating as it is bone-chilling.

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