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Tourists take in the Georgia Guidestones in Elbert County, Georgia, on April 25, 2021. (Shutterstock) Tourists take in the Georgia Guidestones in Elbert County, Georgia, on April 25, 2021. (Shutterstock)

Tourists take in the Georgia Guidestones in Elbert County, Georgia, on April 25, 2021. (Shutterstock)

Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek July 13, 2022

If Your Time is short

  • The decades-old Georgia Guidestones monument was commissioned by an anonymous donor on behalf of an unknown group, according to news reports. This secrecy and controversial messages on the stone slabs have fueled speculation that the Guidestones were connected to the “New World Order.” 

  • Proponents of the “New World Order” conspiracy theory believe that a group of powerful elites are secretly working to establish an international government that will give them control over global populations.

  • Research shows that unfounded conspiracies such as the New World Order theory have incited people to destructive and violent acts. The Guidestones have been vandalized in the past because of this theory.

Some called the Georgia Guidestones monument "America’s Stonehenge." Others called it "satanic."

In May, a conservative gubernatorial candidate in Georgia said she would turn the mystifying structure "into dust" if elected. 

A little after 4 a.m. on July 6, someone did just that, using explosives to reduce one of the Guidestones’ four vertical granite panels to rubble. Authorities later demolished the rest of the monument "for safety reasons," because the explosion had destroyed one of the slabs holding up the structure.

News of the demolition spread quickly on social media, with some chatter focused on conspiracy theories around the mysterious origins of the Elberton, Georgia, monument.

"The Georgia Guidestones, an infamous set of ‘commandments’ for the ‘New World Order,’ have been demolished after an explosion early this morning damaged them," read one such July 6 Facebook post. "The most well known ‘commandment’ on the stones was to keep the world population at 500 million." 

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Other posts tied the monument to the "New World Order Illuminati." Proponents of the "New World Order" theory believe that a group or "cabal" of powerful elites are working secretly to establish an international government that will let them control global populations. The theory has antisemitic origins, and believers often allege Jewish people are orchestrating crises in pursuit of global control.

Researchers say this unproven theory has been spreading since the 1990s, intensified by increasing globalization and online spread of conspiracy rhetoric. 

Legend has it that exactly one person — a bank president named Wyatt Martin — knows the true identity of the man who, under the pseudonym R.C. Christian, commissioned the monument on behalf of "a small group of loyal Americans." 

Martin acted as an intermediary while the granite project was completed. He promised to keep Christian’s identity secret and said he plans to take what he knows to the grave. The monument offers no further information about its benefactors, saying only, "Sponsors: A Small Group of Americans Who Seek The Age Of Reason."

The Guidestones, erected in 1980, comprise four vertical granite slabs and a central pillar, each nearly 20 feet tall, topped with a smaller granite slab. The structure was meant to be an astronomical device similar to Stonehenge that functioned as a compass, calendar and clock, according to Wired.  

The sides of the stone slab atop the monument were engraved with the phrase ​​"Let these be guidestones to an Age of Reason" in Egyptian hieroglyphics, classical Greek, Sanskrit and Babylonian cuneiform. The four vertical granite slabs were engraved with identical sets of instructions in eight different languages, including Arabic, English, Hindi and Swahili. 

Many of the instructions are benign and uncontroversial:

  • "Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts."

  • "Balance personal rights with social duties."

  • "Prize truth — beauty — loves — seeking harmony with the infinite."

The first two proved contentious and fueled conspiracies:

  • "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature."

  • "Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity." 

Critics of the Guidestones argued that these instructions promoted genocide by suggesting a global population reduction from about 4.4 billion in 1980 to just 500 million and championed eugenics.

In 2009 the stones were defaced with red paint reading: "Death to the new world order." 

Security cameras were later installed that captured footage of the recent bombing. The investigation continues and a motive has not been identified. Parks White, the Northern Judicial Circuit district attorney, announced plans to prosecute the explosive device’s detonator.

"Regardless of your feelings about the origin of the Guidestones, their meaning, or the intention of the person who commissioned and erected them, they are a historical landmark, and this destructive act was an assault upon our community," he said, emphasizing that the explosives used were powerful and dangerous.

Katie McCarthy, an associate investigative researcher for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center On Extremism, said that despite the unknowns surrounding the monument, the Guidestones’ had an ordinary function.

"The Guidestones really served primarily as a tourist attraction for Elbert County," she said. "I think people need to realize that there’s all these theories surrounding them — but they’re conspiracy theories. There’s nothing to prove that whoever put these monuments up, whoever they were, was a satanist or some member of the New World Order or the Illuminati."

She said the conspiracy theories about the monument were a way of trying to "explain things that have no other explanation."

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Our Sources

Interview with Katie McCarthy, an associate investigative researcher for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center On Extremism, July 11, 2022

Wired, "American Stonehenge: Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse," April 28, 2009

Associated Press, "Georgia slabs called satanic by some torn down after bombing," July 6, 2022

Georgia Bureau of Investigation tweets, July 6, 2022

Georgia Bureau of Investigation tweets, July 6, 2022

NBC News, "​​Georgia Guidestones monument is destroyed after explosion," July 7, 2022

Explore Georgia, "​​Georgia Guidestones," accessed July 7, 2022

Elbert County Chamber, "Georgia Guidestones," accessed July 7, 2022

WSB-TV 2, "Georgia Guidestones demolished after bombing damages mysterious monument," July 6, 2022

The Washington Post, "Far right called U.S. ‘Stonehenge’ satanic — and cheered when it blew up," July 7, 2022

Atlas Obscura, "Georgia Guidestones," July 7, 2022

Athens Banner-Herald, "‘Domestic terrorism’: DA vows to pursue felony charges in Georgia Guidestones bombing," July 7, 2022

Governor Taylor, "Executive Order #10 - Demolish the Georgia Guidestones," accessed July 7, 2022

Slate, "The Georgia Guidestones: Mysterious Stone Slabs Inscribed With Odd Instrutions," Dec. 17, 2014

EGA Online, "The Georgia Guidestones," accessed July 8, 2022

WYFF4, "1980 story when Georgia Guidestones were unveiled and dedicated," July 7, 2022

American Jewish Committee, "Translate Hate: New World Order," accessed July 8, 2022

CBS News, "Why is "New World Order" ideology spreading?" Nov. 5, 2013

Anti-Defamation League, "New World Order," June 26, 2017

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, "The New World Order: The Historical Origins of a Dangerous Modern Conspiracy Theory," May 30, 2022

New York Times, "A Monument’s Mysteries Include Whether It Can Draw Tourists," Sept. 17, 2013

CNN, "Waiting for the end of the world: Georgia's 30-year stone mystery," 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Mysterious Georgia monument removed after explosion," July 6, 2022

Newsweek, "Georgia Guidestones' Destruction Leaves Conspiracy Theorists Divided," July 7, 2022

United Nations, "World Population Totals for 1980 - 2050, According to the 18 United Nations Revisions of World Population Estimates and Projections," accessed July 8, 2022, "FBI Intelligence Bulletin - Anti-Government, Identity Based, and Fringe Political Conspiracy Theories Very Likely Motivate Some Domestic Extremists to Commit Criminal, Sometimes Violent Activity," May 30, 2019

Smithsonian Magazine, "Nobody Knows How to Interpret This Doomsday Stonehenge in Georgia," Sept. 10, 2013

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