It’s not at all uncommon that anytime you mention to someone in passing that you’re from Elbert County, they’ll say, “Isn’t that where the Georgia Guidestones are?”
It isn’t really a question. They’ve heard of the Guidestones in some way, and the Elbert County reference is part of the package. The statement is just an opening gambit usually with the hope of provoking discussion of the curiosity and maybe learning something they haven’t heard.
There’s no doubt the Guidestones provoke curiosity. They also lend themselves to both idle and involved speculation, to say nothing of attracting the attention of the mystical-minded, the conspiracy theorists and an assorted variety of keepers of odd knowledge. It’s Elbert County’s addition to the gallery of cult claptrap that includes Area 51 and Roswell, New Mexico.
I was reminded of all this again recently when a friend in New York City mentioned hearing about the background of and speculation regarding the Guidestones on a radio program devoted to conspiracy theories.
The “official” history of the Guidestones is well known, but still cloaked in some mystery. The story goes that Joe Fendley, at the time owner of Elberton Granite Finishing Company, was approached in 1979 by a mysterious man calling himself “Robert C. Christian” who purported to represent a group wanting to commission a monument. Details about the group were never publicly revealed. All in Elbert County involved in the project were to be sworn to secrecy.
On hearing the proposition Fendley was at first incredulous but took an interest. Apparently, money was no object to the mysterious Mr. Christian, who provided a model of the desired monument, along with a sheaf of specifications, and soon purchased a five-acre site for the stones on a promontory north of Elberton and just off Ga. 77. Fendley enlisted local banker Wyatt Martin in the venture to handle the financial arrangements, and like Fendley, he also purportedly swore to carry any secrets about Christian and his group to the grave.
The resulting structure was officially dedicated in March 1980.
It consists of five upright slabs − each 16 feet, 4 inches high, weighing over 42,000 pounds apiece − with a capstone, only vaguely similar to Stonehenge in England to which it is sometimes compared. On the slabs are ten “guiding principles” in English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Traditional Chinese, and Russian that read thus:
- Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
- Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
- Unite humanity with a living new language.
- Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
- Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
- Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
- Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
- Balance personal rights with social duties.
- Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
- Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
Another inscription reads “Let these be guidestones to an Age of Reason” with translations in Babylonian cuneiform, Classical Greek, Sanskrit and Egyption hieroglyphics.
The philosophical and historical inspiration of the “principles” has defied even the most sagacious keepers of odd knowledge. They appear a mishmash of aphorisms bringing to mind various Eastern religions and philosophies. It’s not my purpose here to expound on all the speculated inspirations for the stones, but over the years since their building has been attributed to Satanists, the New World Order conspiracy, the Rosicrucian Order and various types of sun and moon worshipers (following the noting that the arrangement of the stones marks out an 18.6 year lunar declination cycle.
That’s the official version of the story. Now here’s a version I believe to be the right one.
It was told to me by a woman who spent most of her high school years in Elbert County and is now a nationally prominent clinical psychologist living in San Antonio Texas. During her high school years she was a close friend of banker Wyatt Martin’s daughter and spent much time at the Martin home. I have known her for over forty years and have no reason at all to doubt her version of events. She has, in fact, expressed amazement that the story she told isn’t now generally known.
During the time of the Guidestones’ planning, she tells me, she was an inadvertant eavesdropper to conversations at Martin home involving banker Martin and Joe Fendley. At third person at the meetings was a Pakistani businessman named Jalil who had built a factory in Elberton, Georgia Synthetics. The project to create the “mysterious” monument was intended to showcase Elbert County’s granite industry and perhaps create an oddity that would draw tourists, putting Elbert County on the map in more than one way. Fendley’s company would do that actual work and Martin would purport to handle the money for the mysterious Mr. Christian. Jalil would provide the money. (Who the person who passed himself off as “Robert C. Christian” on the occasion when the person actually had to appear seems to be the only actual mystery remaining.)
So there it is, an alternative history of the Georgia Guidestones. It is thoroughly plausible and I believe it to be the right story.
What of the “official” story? Well, if creating a curiosity was the “conspirators’” goal, it worked.