Granite monoliths inscribed with cryptic messages were blown up in rural Georgia early Wednesday, leaving behind a legacy of mystery that stretches from their origin to their destruction.
The enigma of the Guidestones, located in Elberton, a city roughly 110 miles east of Atlanta that calls itself “the Granite Capital of the World,” can be traced to the late 1970s. Around that time, a man identified as R.C. Christian commissioned the project on behalf of a group of out-of-state Americans who wanted to remain anonymous, according to the Elberton Granite Association, a trade group. People who knew Christian’s real identity took an oath of secrecy that has not been broken.
The Guidestones’ funders wanted to make “a moralistic appeal” to humanity, according to the trade group, and etched 10 guiding principles onto the stones. The multilingual manual for humanity has been a popular spot for visitors over the past four decades.
The instructions, repeated in eight languages on the four upright slabs, are largely uncontroversial. They urge humanity to protect nature and care for fellow citizens. But two entries raised eyebrows: They called for the world’s population to be capped at 500 million and encouraged reproduction to improve “fitness and diversity.” (There were some 4 billion humans alive in the late 1970s.)
Right-wing conspiracy theorists such as Infowars founder Alex Jones have seized on the edicts as proof of a nefarious globalist scheme. In a 2008 documentary, he pointed to the granite slabs as evidence that global elites were plotting to enslave most of the world. During the coronavirus pandemic, misinformation circulated that linked the emergence of the virus to the Guidestones.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has spread and supported unfounded conspiracy theories, told Jones in an interview Wednesday that the monument represented a future of “population control” as envisioned by the “hard left.”
“There is a war of good and evil going on, and people are done with globalism,” she said, adding that she would wait for the results of the investigation.
The Guidestones also got a mention in the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary this year. Educator Kandiss Taylor, who finished a distant third to the victorious incumbent, Brian Kemp, pledged to dismantle the monument and fight the “Luciferian Cabal” that she suggested was behind it. On Wednesday, she called the Guidestones “satanic,” applauded the destruction and alluded that the incident might be an act of God.
Despite the controversy, many Elberton residents are proud of the Guidestones. The city’s mayor, Daniel Graves, said the monument attested to the exemplary craftsmanship of local masons, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“There is only one community in the world that could build such a monument,” he added.