A contentious granite monument in the United States that some dubbed “America’s Stonehenge” but many conservatives said is satanic has been demolished after it was heavily damaged in a bombing.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said “unknown individuals” detonated an explosive device at the Georgia Guidestones, a monument about 177km (110 miles) east of Atlanta, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The agency later posted video footage from a surveillance camera showing the explosion and a car leaving the scene, and said the entire structure was demolished for safety reasons. No one was injured in the blast.
(3/3) For safety reasons, the structure has been completely demolished. pic.twitter.com/hrpqN2Sphr
— GA Bureau of Investigation (@GBI_GA) July 6, 2022
Before it was vandalised, the 19-foot-tall monument consisted of one upright slab at the centre of four larger tablets arranged around it, with a large rectangular capstone placed atop the others.
The collection of gray monoliths was erected in 1980 in the middle of a large field near the town of Elberton, Georgia, and was listed as a tourist attraction by the state’s travel site and the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce.
The slabs were engraved with an enigmatic message in 12 languages, including Babylonian Cuneiform, Egyptian Hieroglyphics and Classical Greek, according to a post on the county chamber of commerce’s website.
The message called for the preservation of humankind by limiting the world’s population to fewer than a half-billion people to live “in perpetual balance with nature”, according to official translations of the text.
“The Guidestones also serve as an astronomical calendar, and every day at noon the sun shines through a narrow hole in the structure and illuminates the day’s date on an engraving,” the Georgia travel website reads.
But the monument has been a source of controversy and also drew far-right or religious conspiracy theories, as no one knew the precise origins of the structure or who was behind it.
It was built by a local granite finishing company at the behest of a mysterious benefactor who commissioned the work.
The Elberton Granite Association says (PDF) it all began when “a well-dressed and articulate man” – identifying himself as “R C Christian” – came into its office in Elberton “and wanted to know the cost of building a large monument to conservation”.
The man said “the sponsors had planned the monument for years” and that the 10 guides “were carefully worded as a moralistic appeal to all peoples regardless of nationality, religion or politics”, the association recounted.
But some right-wing US politicians said the monument was “satanic” and welcomed the decision to tear it down after the bombing this week.
“The Georgia Guidestones are evil and Satanic. I am glad to see authorities tearing it down. We only support and worship the one true God, not an imposter and the Father of all lies,” Arizona state senator Wendy Rogers wrote on Twitter.
The Georgia Guidestones are evil and Satanic. I am glad to see authorities tearing it down. We only support and worship the one true God, not an imposter and the Father of all lies.
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) July 7, 2022
Following news of the bombing, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Kandiss Taylor, a third-place finisher in the May 24 Republican primary who made removal of the monument part of her campaign platform, suggested its demise was an act of divine intervention.
“God is God all by Himself. He can do ANYTHING He wants to do. That includes striking down Satanic Guidestones,” she tweeted.
Taylor later released a video insisting she would never support vandalism and that “anyone who goes on private or public property to destroy anything illegally should be arrested.”
The Elberton Granite Association, which had maintained and preserved the stones, put the cost of replacing them at hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to local media.