Holyland Leader Has New Project

By: Jay Reeves, The Associated Press
By: Jay Reeves, The Associated Press

Preacher Luke Edwards is the shepherd of a forlorn flock. For years his disciples have traveled the nation begging, amid allegations of abuse and mismanagement.

Five young people have died in fires at his western Alabama commune, the Holyland.

The state says the education provided to children is substandard. And former followers say there were beatings and sexual misconduct by male elders.

But the 84-year-old outlasted all the criticism and troubles. Now Edwards is at the center of a multi-million dollar plan to build a large residential school for at-risk students in rural Alabama near the Mississippi state line.

Former followers, including one of his own daughters, say they are concerned that more children could be placed at risk if the project becomes reality.

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