Update: As of 6 July 2022 the Georgia Guidestones have been destroyed following a bombing by persons unknown.
Known as an “American Stonehenge”, the Georgia Guidestones were mysteriously commissioned in June 1979 by a man under the pseudonym R. C. Christian and “a small group of loyal Americans”. According to Christian, the anonymous group spent the previous 20 years developing plans for the Guidestones – a structure of five massive monoliths standing 5.87m and weighing a combined 107,840kg – that they wished to erect in Elbert County, Georgia, USA. Christian approached Joe Fendley of the Elberton Granite Finishing Company with his strange building request and Fendley, assuming Christian was a ‘crazy religious freak’, quoted him significantly higher than the actual cost of the project. To Fendley’s surprise, Christian accepted his quote. He handed Fendley ten detailed pages of specifications and work on the Guidestones commenced.
A year later on 22 March the strange monument was unveiled in front of an audience of between 100 and 400 people (depending on the source). Inscribed on the stones are a list in guidelines that detail the governing of mankind following the ‘birth of a new age’, inspiring numerous theories of who R.C. Christian was and the intentions of the group he represented.
The Guidestones and their Manifesto
The biggest draw to the Georgia Guidestones is the peculiar text chiselled onto the granite slabs. Displayed on each of the five monoliths are a set of ten guidelines translated into eight modern languages (English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian). These guidelines are written below in bold. In the guidebook The Georgia Guidestones, the ‘sponsors’ wrote complimentary explanations for each number, which I’ve included underneath each guideline for additional context:
1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
Means the entire human race at its climax level for permanent balance with nature.
2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
Without going into details as yet undiscovered, this means humanity should apply reason and knowledge to guiding its own reproduction. “Fitness” could be translated as “health.” “Diversity” could be translated as “variety.”
3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
A “living” language grows and changes with advancing knowledge. A “new” language will be developed “de novo” — and need not necessarily be adapted from any languages now in existence.
4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
“Faith” here may be used in a religious sense. Too often people are ruled by blind faith even when it may be contrary to reason. Reason must be tempered with compassion here — but must prevail.
5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
Courts must consider justice as well as law.
6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
Individual nations must be free to develop their own destinies at home as their own people wish, but cannot abuse their neighbours.
7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
Individuals have a natural concern for their personal welfare, but man is a social animal and must also be concerned for the group. Failure of society means failure for tis individual citizens.
9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
The infinite here means the supreme being — whose will is manifest in the workings of the cosmos — if we will seek for it.
10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
In our time, the growth of humanity is destroying the natural conditions of the earth which have fostered all existing life. We must restore reasoned balance.
In addition to the above text, a four-sided capstone on top of the central column bears the phrase “Let These Be Guidestones to An Age of Reason” written in Sanskrit, Babylonian cuneiform, Classical Greek, and Egyptian hieroglyphs.
If these ‘guidelines’, particularly the first two, made you raise an eyebrow you’re not alone. The anonymous group responsible for the Georgia Guidestones has ruffled many feathers over the years as some critics believe the text advocates eugenics and population control. On the other hand, many see the stones as a completely harmless and a fun (if not strange) roadside attraction. And it goes without saying that the peculiar monument with a baffling history has attracted numerous conspiracy theories throughout the years as visitors attempt to detangle the mysterious surrounding the Guidestones.
Theories about the Georgia Guidestones
Theory 1: R.C. Christian was a Member of the Rosicrucian Order
Only two individuals on the entire planet know the identify of R.C. Christian. The first, Wyatt Martin, was an Elberton banker who acted on behalf of Christian during the construction of the stones. Martin refused to disclose the real identity of Christian, citing a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ made in 1979. The second man, now deceased, was contractor Joe Fendley who worked with Christian when building the monument. He was just as elusive when it came to disclosing Christian’s identity. And since Christian himself has allegedly passed away, there’s zero possibility the mysterious man will ever reveal his real identity to the public.
Naturally this leads to theories surrounding not only the identity of Christian, but the group that he allegedly represented. Some believe that the letter R.C. stand for Rosy Cross, the emblem of the Rosicrucian Order, a secret society from the seventeenth and eighteenth-centuries. The Rosicrucian Order (also known as the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis) focuses its teaching on esoteric topics including occultism, metaphysics, sacred architecture, parapsychology, alchemy, and other ‘sacred sciences’ and philosophies, while stressing harmony with nature. Coincidentally (or intentionally) the name of the mythical founder was also Christian and was thought to have been Lazarus in a previous life. Lazarus was said to come back from the dead… the Georgia Guidestones focus on the rebirth of humanity… there’s a lot of connections that can be made here. The Rosicrucian Order is still active today globally, so it isn’t completely irrational to think that this group was somehow involved. Or at the very least, ‘R.C. Christian’ wanted people to think they were involved to increase the interest and mystique of his Guidestones.
Theory 2: The Guidestones are the ‘Ten Commandments of the Antichrist’ and were built to establish a ‘New World Order’
According to the Bible, the Antichrist is a figure prophesied to directly oppose Jesus by taking his place before the Second Coming. Many people have been accused of being the Antichrist throughout history including Emperor Nero, Grigori Rasputin, Adolf Hitler, and most US presidents and Catholic popes. Fear mongering about the emergence of an Antichrist continues to this day, with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church proclaiming in 2019 that the use of smartphones and the internet will allow for “an opportunity to gain control over mankind” since “the Antichrist is the person who will be at the head of the worldwide web”.
The Georgia Guidestones as the ‘Ten Commandments of the Antichrist’ theory seems to come from Christian minister Dr. Reagan R. Davis who visited the stones in 2000. According to an article from Religion Dispatches, “Davis interpreted these messages as a call for a world government, a policy of state-sponsored eugenics, and the culling of billions of people.” This leads into the concept of a ‘New World Order’, which goes hand-in-hand with the Antichrist theory since American conspiracy theorists that believed in a forthcoming New World Order (at least before the 1990s when the Georgia Guidestones were built) tended to be far-right/anti-government, or far-right/fundamentalist Christians with Doomsday on the brain.
The term ‘new world order’ has been around since before the Cold War and was used by American politician Woodrow Wilson and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill when referring to “a dramatic change in world political thought and in the global balance of power after World War I and World War II.” Today, the New World Order refers to a conspiracy theory claiming a secret group of powerful elites are working towards taking over the world and implementing a single global government. American televangelist Pat Robertson fanned this flame in his book The New World Order in 1991 which proposed the connection between the forthcoming ‘world government’ and the arrival of the Antichrist. These conspiracies are layered with far-right rhetoric and antisemitism, so it isn’t a particularly fun rabbit hole to go down. But since the Georgia Guidestones are meant to help humanity into an ‘Age of Reason”, some believe R.C. Christian and the group he represented were part of the so-called group of elites bringing forth the New World Order.
However, the Religion Dispatches article makes an important point that reading the Georgia Guidestones from a contemporary perspective ignores their historical context. A contemporary reading can draw parallels with the ‘New World Order’ conspiracy while ignoring the fact that they were built during the Cold War, essentially “stripping the messages of their historical contexts … so that they mutually confirm a dualistic cosmology in which Christians must battle the New World Order.” The Guidestones were even accused of predicting things like the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centres in New York City and the election of Barack Obama. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose (or in this case, ignorance makes you think blocks of granite can predict the future).
Theory 3: The Guidestones were built by Ted Turner
Ted Turner, American businessman, billionaire, and founder of the news channel CNN, is one of numerous public figures that some believe to be ‘R.C. Christian’. When the stones were erected in 1979, Turner had the end of the world on the brain along with millions around the world who had lived through the decades of the Cold War. Shortly before CNN launched in 1980, Turner directed the Turner Doomsday Video, a film showing a performance of Nearer My God to Thee (allegedly played by a band as the Titanic sunk) by members of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine bands. As its name suggests, the video was meant to be the very last thing played on CNN at the end of the world. It wasn’t entirely certain the Turner Doomsday Video even existed until it was leaked online in 2015 by Michael Ballaban, a former intern for CNN. According to a 2011 Forbes article Ted Turner’s Plans to Save the World Turner had “abandoned his prediction of a planet where most of the population will die off, leaving only a few cannibals to roam the scorched Earth”, implying he had previously considered the end of the known world as a possible scenario. Is it so farfetched that the multi-billionaire created the Georgia Guidestones for the world’s decimated population following a nuclear holocaust?
As for the environmental and reproductive focused contents of the Guidestones, they appear to align with Turner’s own ideologies. In 1990 Turner founded The Turner Foundation (TFI), who’s mission is to “protect and restore the natural systems – air, land, and water — on which all life depends“. And in 1998 Turner donated $1 billion (a third of his wealth) to the United Nations to establish the United Nations Foundation which focuses on global issues that include gender equality and tackling environmental issues and climate change. Among the list of projects the United Nations Foundation has been involved in include Family Planning 2020 and Universal Access Project which focused on sexual health and reproductive health. While Turner’s philanthropy interests align with some points on the Georgia Guidestones, this theory seem to be significantly less nefarious than others. However, if R.C. Christian really is deceased, than Turner’s candidacy is out the window as he is still currently alive and well.
So what are they, really?
For the most part, the Georgia Guidestones are just one of countless roadside attractions scattered across the vast American landscape. It’s safe to say their true meaning and who commissioned them will remain unknown and conspiracy theorists will continue to find creative ways to interpret their message. It’s likely they were commissioned by a group that was concerned with the threat of nuclear warfare and proposed, through the Guidestones, a way in which humanity could bounce back from near total destruction. However, with no direct connection to a group or individual, the true intention of the Guidestones are left up to interpretation, for better or for worse. But perhaps this is what R.C. Christian intended – immortalising his message not only on his granite monument, but also in the minds of those who see it.
The mysteries of the Georgia Guidestones don’t end here! Check out the links below to find out more about America’s Stonehenge.
Sources and Additional Reading
365 Atlanta Traveller – Georgia Guidestones: 10 Weird Things You’ve Got To Know
BBC Travel – One of the US’ greatest mysteries
CNN – Waiting for the end of the world: Georgia’s 30-year stone mystery
Discovery Magazine – Georgia’s Own Doomsday Stonehenge Monument
Forbes – Ted Turner’s Plans to Save the World
How Stuff Works – The Georgia Guidestones: A Monumental Mystery
Religious Dispatches – Ten Commandments of the Antichrist: The Georgia Guidestones
Ripley’s – Guidestones Against Apocalypse: American’s Stonehenge
Smithsonian Magazine – Nobody Knows How to Interpret This Doomsday Stonehenge in Georgia