Georgia’s Republican primary for governor has revolved around Donald Trump’s attempts to oust Gov. Brian Kemp (R) over Kemp’s refusal to break election laws in the aftermath of the 2020 election. But last week, third-place candidate Kandiss Taylor tried to inject an issue of her own into the race, introducing a plan to blow up four giant granite tablets in northeast Georgia she sees as symbols of Satan worship.
On May 2, Taylor unveiled a draft executive order related to the Georgia Guidestones, a set of enormous rocks in the city of Elberton. Taylor’s proposed order is simple: “Demolish the Georgia Guidestones.”
“The New World Order is here, and they told us it was coming,” Taylor said in a video showing her standing defiantly in front of the tablets she describes as symbols of human sacrifice. “This is a battle.”
To most people not steeped in the online lore that surrounds them, the Guidestones might appear to be only a tourist trap a two-hour northeast from Atlanta. Erected in 1979, the 19-foot-tall Guidestones’ true origins and purposes are unclear. Based on the messages on the Guidestones and their design, though, the people involved in the stones’ construction have said that they’re meant to help a human remnant rebuild in the aftermath of nuclear war.
Either way, the Guidestones are likely safe for now. Despite endorsements from Trump allies like MyPillow founder Mike Lindell and pro-QAnon lawyer Lin Wood, Taylor is polling a distant third in the gubernatorial race behind Kemp and Trump’s pick, former Sen. David Perdue. Taylor received just 4 percent in a recent poll. But her proposed executive order highlights the far-right’s increasing hostility to the Guidestones, which have taken on an outsized importance among conservative conspiracy theorists as a symbol of a nefarious plot to kill off 95 percent of the world’s population.
“I am the ONLY candidate bold enough to stand up to the Luciferian Cabal,” Taylor wrote on social media app Telegram after releasing her video.
The stones are inscribed with what are described as rules to bring about “an age of reason,” including some harmless admonitions like “Leave room for nature.” The Guidestones have been arranged in an elaborate sundial-like configuration to help surviving humans reorient the species’ calendar, with one focused on the North Star and another revealing when the sun is at noon.
But the Guidestones’ top suggestion for surviving in a post-apocalyptic world has turned the site into a hub for conspiracy theorists’s attention: “Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.”
That suggestion might not seem so sinister if you think that, after a nuclear exchange, the world population would be far below 500 million. But for conspiracy theorists, that commandment has become proof of a plan by global elites to kill off most of the world’s current population. Those who want the tablets taken down have also pointed to other rules on the monument, including a call for a world court and managed human reproduction, as further proof that the Guidestones represent a plot to control humanity.
Ideas about the methods and culprits of that depopulation have changed since 1979, shifting from the Illuminati to the New World Order to the Davos set. In 2014, conspiracy theorists cited the Guidestones as proof that the ebola outbreak would kill off much of humanity. In a 2018 Facebook post, future Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) endorsed the idea that the Guidestones revealed a world genocide plot. In the pandemic, the Guidestones have come to be seen as proof of an impending “Great Reset” of the world, with Covid-19 vaccines used to kill off most people.
The conspiracy theorists do have one thing right about the Guidestones: they’re mysterious. Officially, no one alive knows the identity of the person who paid to put up the Guidestones. In 1979, a man using the alias R.C. Christian appeared in Elberton, claiming to represent “a group of loyal Americans” from outside who wanted to erect a massive granite monument that could withstand a catastrophe.
For someone who wanted to buy more than 100 tons of granite, Elberton was the right place. Dubbed the “Granite Capital of the World,” Elberton was known for its granite industry, to the point that some skeptics of the R.C. Christian story would later come to suspect the Guidestones were created by local businessmen to draw attention to the town’s quarries.
Christian only revealed his true identity to two men, according to a 1989 article in the Los Angeles Times—the owner of the granite company that made the tablets and a banker who handled the purchases of the monument and the farmland where it now stands. Both men have since died, theoretically taking the truth about Christian’s identity, and whether he existed at all, with them.
From their first days, the stones were haunted by dark predictions. As construction began on the site, a local preacher predicted that the stones would be the site of a human sacrifice.
Guidestone conspiracy theories began to take off online in 2008 , when right-wing conspiracy theorist Mark Dice began to demand the “Satanic” Guidestones be taken down and “smashed into a million pieces.” Since then, the Guidestones have reliably appeared on conspiracy theory websites—in 2012, a conservative blogger complained the Guidestones were a symbol of how the New World Order “openly mocks us.” One of the leaders in the anti-government rancher Bundy family’s 2016 Oregon standoff with the federal government became obsessed with the Guidestones, citing them as a major step on his path to radicalization.
In 2020, InfoWars chief Alex Jones visited the Guidestones and declared them a “temple to the post-human era.” Those conspiracy theories have also turned the Guidestones into regular targets for vandalism.
Now Taylor, who worked as a school teacher before becoming the far-right’s favorite gubernatorial candidate, is hoping to turn those ideas about the Guidestones’ sinister purpose to her political advantage. After Taylor released her proposed executive order, Wood, the defamation attorney turned conspiracy theorist, said demolishing the Guidestones should be a “litmus test” for Kemp and other candidates in the primary.
Taylor has kept up her own attacks on the Guidestones since her campaign first proposed demolishing them, pointing out in a recent Telegram post that the Guidestones are roughly 666 miles from the United Nations headquarters in New York City—an ominous fact to the conspiracy-minded.
“It’s no coincidence,” Taylor wrote. “They must be destroyed.”
Elberton lies in a conservative corner of Georgia, in a heavily Republican congressional district. But the city isn’t eager to part with what it sees as a key tourist attraction and a celebration of its granite industry. In an email to The Daily Beast, Elberton mayor Daniel Graves brushed off Taylor’s suggestion that the Guidestones be demolished, saying she should focus on celebrating the city’s granite production instead of “some outlandish conspiracy theories she watched on YouTube.”
“There is only one community in the world that could build such a monument,” Graves wrote.” And that is what we celebrate here and will continue to celebrate long after her campaign is forgotten.”