LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) -- The Rev. Jerry Falwell pulls the wheel hard right, sweat budding across his cheeks as he guides the Chevy Suburban around potholes in the dirt road.
It's a rough drive to the mountaintop overlooking his 4,300-acre property. But the view, he promises, is worth the trip.
Sprawled below is the red brick of Liberty University and his beloved Thomas Road Baptist Church. Now imagine golf courses, recreation centers, apartment complexes, he says. Maybe a ski lift up the mountain, maybe one of those revolving restaurants on top.
At 68, Falwell thinks often about what will remain when he's gone. If he gets his way in federal court this summer, the conservative pastor will leave his most visible legacy twinkling below -- a master-planned Christian community where members of his flock can live from "birth to antiquity."
The Rev. Jerry Falwell stood in front of a scale model of Liberty Village in Lynchburg, VA. The village is a 1,135-unit retirement center.
"You'll never have to leave this place," Falwell says. "You can come in at age 2, in our early learning center ... age 5 into our kindergarten, age 6 through 18 in our elementary and high school. Then on to Liberty University for four years."
For fun, kids can already go to Falwell's Camp Hydaway summer camp. If local residents develop a drinking problem, there's his Elim Home for Alcohol and Drug-Addicted Men. If a woman has an unwanted pregnancy, she can go to the Liberty Godparent Home for Unwed Mothers.
When Falwell followers turn 55, they soon will be eligible to move nearby into Liberty Village, a 1,135-unit retirement center with its own markets, putting green, chapel and associate pastor from Falwell's church. The retirement condos, which run from $100,000 to $300,000, are under construction just outside Lynchburg.
Taking off his glasses, Falwell pauses to dispel what he already expects to be misinterpretations of his dream.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell walked on a sidewalk where Liberty Village model homes are clustered. (AP Photos)
"We have no intentions of building a 'compound' -- no wall is going to go up," he says. "If a non-Christian family applied, they would be accepted."
How about homosexual couples?
"That wouldn't work," Falwell says with a chuckle. While he can't legally bar anyone from living in his community, "they wouldn't be comfortable here -- all these Christians would be witnessing to them."
Already, Falwell has built much of his community and employs about 2,000 people -- more than the city government. With donations now picking up since Sept. 11, he'll break ground on the putting green and recreation center this summer.
What's missing right now is the spiritual -- and legal -- connection to Thomas Road Baptist Church. Virginia's constitution prohibits churches from owning more than 15 acres of land within a city and holding a corporate charter.
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