Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What constitutes marriage?

The Gazette ran a half-page advertisement on page A7 yesterday featuring the face of a freckled, downcast boy. The ad read "Why doesn't Senator Salazar believe every child needs a mother and a father?"

The ad, purchased by Focus on the Family Action, is the ministry's lastest salvo in its crusade to get a federal Marriage Protection Amendment passed. The act, up for a vote early next month, would cement a traditional definition of marriage into the U.S. Constitution and make a bevy of similar state-wide amendments (including one expected to be up for a vote in Colorado this November) superfluous.

Similar ads are running across the country, calling out 16 senators for their lack of support. Focus' Web site has what it calls a "grassroots resource area," which offers Focus-centric information as well as streamlined ways to connect with senators. It includes a link to another effort Focus participated in -- an attempt to send more than 1 million postcards to senators in favor of a traditional definition of marriage.


Sorry, "Da Vinci Code" fans. "X-Men: The Last Stand" -- on its way to being the bigest blockbuster of the season -- may be the summer's most spiritual popcorn movie. Between frenetic fight scenes, the film deals with issues of morality, tolerance and what the heck "right" and "wrong" really mean. X-Men (the comics and the movies) have always been about prejudice and isolation, and it's hard to watch the film and not see it as a parable, of sorts -- one, perhaps, where mutants are powerful stand-ins for gays and lesbians.

The film revolves around a cure for mutantism -- a drug that will permanently surpress a mutant's "abnormal" genes. Some mutants crave such a drug, which would give them license to return to "normal" society. Others believe such a cure would be tantamount to rejecting who they are. Though the lines between good guys and bad guys are clearly drawn, the ethical themes that motivate them are not so clear-cut.

Producer Ralph Winter, a Christian, said in an interview with Christianity Today that movies are better at asking questions than answering them. And this film asks a boatload.

Focus on the Family, which offers its own answers to such questions, gave the movie a generally positive review on its popular Web site, PluggedIn Online. But it hedges a bit.

"The message that every person is valuable and deserves acceptance comes through loud and clear," the review says. "What's less clear is whether tolerance means embracing the choices other people make along the way."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pagan rites, pagan rights

Here in Colorado Springs, most discussion around faith and the military swirls around evangelicals and the Air Force Academy.

But, as Fort Carson casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to mount, it's only a matter of time before our community deals with the same sort of thing that snagged attention this Memorial Day in Nevada.

Roberta Stewart, widow of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, who was killed in Afghanistan, wants to have her husband's memorial plaque bear a Wiccan symbol. The Veteran Affairs department says no: It doesn't recognize Wicca as a religion. Roberta Stewart held an alternative Memorial Day service yesterday, which was attended by many of Sgt. Stewart's brothers-in-arms. Find the full story here.

The story says the Veteran Affairs department already recognizes 38 religions, including atheism. It's interesting that Wicca would not be one of those faiths. Wicca is the largest of several earth-based faiths that are generally lumped into paganism. The faith itself is pretty new, but draws its roots and inspiration from ancient civilizations that worshipped a pantheon of gods and goddesses and paid close attention to the solar and lunar cycles. Here in El Paso County, pagan religions such as Wicca are big deals. No one keeps count of pagans locally, but some experts say there are thousands here -- probably outnumbering Buddhists, Muslims, and perhaps even Jews.

Some of these pagans are no doubt in the military, stationed at Fort Carson. So what should the military to do should one of these pagans be killed in action? In today's pluralistic faith society, should the military honor Wiccans just as it would Christians or Jews? Or is Wicca still too uncertain a faith to, literally, carve in stone?

Friday, May 26, 2006


Who would've thought that, back in skateboarding's rebellious youth, this extreme sport would become such a focal point for Christian ministry?

These days, lots of churches are developing programs to reach skateboarders. We'll highlight a local one in Saturday's paper.

One of the most interesting things about this phenomenon is the cool art some skateboards have. The one on the left comes from SAP Skateboards -- one of seven designs I saw on the Web site.

Here are some other sites you might check out: Untitled Skateboards, 777 Skateboards and Dodge This. There are, of course, dozens of others.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Male and Yale

Focus on the Family has long said that homosexuality is abnormal and undesireable, and the Springs-based organization has been a leading crusader against its normalization. Just today, Focus' online newsletter CitizenLink released a Q&A article with its psychologist-in-residence Bill Maier, which examined a proposed California bill that would mandate positive portrayals of gays and lesbians in textbooks.

"It really seems to be a very obvious ploy to change the hearts and minds of our children," Maier says in the article. When Maier says "change," he is suggesting that such lessons could influence a child's sexual preference later on.

The article came out on the same day I received a publication from the Yale Divinity School -- a publication that explores how issues of sexuality and the church intersect. It included an article that examined (in the school's erudite, fairly liberal way) how Focus presents homosexuality to its constituents.

In essence, the story suggests that Focus sees homosexuality as something that happens to males, either because their natural aggressiveness makes them more apt to experiment sexually, or because they've been "wimpified" by the culture and identify more with women.

"Homosexual males are therefore construed as the Scylla and Charybdis between which the normative male Christian traveler has to find his way," writes author Ludger Viefhues-Bailey.

Though the Yale article never really comes right out and says this, Viefhues-Bailey, who is gay, believes Focus is full of it. Focus wants men to push boundaries and be assertive, Viefhues-Bailey says -- which actually runs counter to the Christian ideal of submissiveness to a greater power and good.

Focus would surely say its teachings are being twisted: Dobson's written books suggesting that boys' assertiveness needs to be curtailed, and that people need to submit to authority, including divine authority.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

And the winner is ...

They say people don't read anymore. They all must be too busy writing to bother.

I receive dozens of faith-oriented books every month, it seems. Some are fascinating, some are middlin' and some are just plain wacky.

Late last week, I received a self-published missive titled "The Messiah," which calls President George W. Bush "The Chosen One."

The last page of the book -- shortly after author William Smatt makes a plug for a Florida park -- contains the following:

"This book is of divine inspiration and not for financial gain. I was instructed that someone needed to standup (sic) for the President and inform the public of the good the Messiah has done. .... GET OFF THE MESSIAH'S BACK!"

Monday, May 22, 2006

Movie Mayhem

Despite sporadic calls for a boycott and negative reviews, Ron Howard's film "The Da Vinci Code" pulled in $77 million, according to a USA Today article. The take was higher than what analysts had predicted.

That was probably a disappointment to a few Christian leaders, who had called for Christians to boycott the movie. Barbara Nicholosi, a Christian media expert, called for what she termed an "othercott," pushing Christians to check out the animated "Over the Hedge" instead of "Da Vinci."

"Over the Hedge," by the way, pocketed an impressive $37.2 million nationally.

But many churches actually hopped on the "Da Vinci" bandwagon. For instance locally, Woodmen Valley Chapel handed out tracts that debunked Brown's book, and will launch into a series on the movie next week. My bet is that movie theaters playing "Da Vinci" won't be the only establishments playing to packed houses over the next couple of weeks.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Boy, that's lotsa karma!

In Saturday's paper, you'll find a story on that grand, mysterious force, karma. Experts talk about what it is, what it isn't, and how you can get it.

The upshot is that karma's a little bit -- and mind you, only a little -- like cholesterol. There's good karma and bad karma, and it all builds up. But it's also like the cottage cheese you eat to get that cholesterol, and the cow that creates that cottage cheese, and -- well, just read the story.

But the one question I didn't tackle in the story is this: Just how much does Boy George deal with actual karma in Culture Club's 1980s-era hit "Karma Chameleon?"

The answer: Not much.

Here, courtesy LyricsFreak, are the lyrics for Culture Club's signature song -- a song that, by simply reading the lyrics, will lodge itself into your cerebral cortex for the next four days.

Desert loving in your eyes all the way
If I listen to your lies would you say
I'm a man without conviction
I'm a man who doesnt know
How to sell a contradiction
You come and go
You come and go

Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon
You come and go
You come and go
Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dream
Red, gold and green
Red, gold and green

Didnt hear your wicked words every day
And you used to be so sweet I heard you say
That my love was an addiction
When we cling our love is strong
When you go you're gone forever
You string along
You string along


Every day is like a survival
You're my lover not my rival
Every day is like a survival
You're my lover not my rival

Early reviews

In Colorado Springs, Ron Howard’s movie “The Da Vinci Code” is generating on opening day what the book has for three years: interest, confusion and mixed reviews.

Springs moviegoers leaving “Da Vinci” matinees were generally more positive than film critics, who panned the movie as too long and too dull. One audience member said the movie was “stunning.” Others said the film was just OK, and a few felt it fell short of the book.

“It kept the pace going faster,” said Randall Niles of Dan Brown's 2003 novel. Niles is a theologian who works for the Web site All About

He also said the film's controverisal theological message was watered down compared to the book. Many Christians objected to author Dan Brown's speculation that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were involved sexually and Brown's portrayal of the Roman Catholic Church. Niles, though, believes the film might kick-start good theological discussions.

"If your faith's in jeopardy over a movie like this, your faith's in the wrong place," he said.

Bob Driscoll said the movie shook his faith. "It's a whole new perspective on what you believe," said Driscoll, who had not read the book. "Of course, it's all just based on speculation, but it (the movie) was excellent."

For Heidi Pinckert, the movie's theology was old hat. Pinckert is a practicing pagan who studies the Divine Feminine, a theme central to "Da Vinci."

"A lot of the thoughts behind this are really not all that new," she said.

Other comments:

** "I thought it was better than the reviews," said Carole Muir. "It doesn't shake my faith any. I mean, I know it's fiction, and it doesn't hurt to think about things."

** "I thought it was intriguiing and done very well," said Tina Jordan. "I thought it was hopeful and inspiring. In the beginning, it had a little bit too much violence for my taste."

** John Horn said, "If you have faith, that's what faith is and movies don't make a difference. Your faith should stand on its own."

** "I am a big fan," said Trent Garber. "I think it had mystery and action and religion -- all the makings of a great movie."

** "I think it would've been more fun to have pushed the envelope more," said Tom Paradise. "They softened some things, like Tom Hanks saying in the end 'it's what you want to believe.' That kind of takes the edge off the book."

Many thanks to Gazette staff writer Trudy Thomas for helping me round up these quotes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mutual antagonists

The Rev. Ted Haggard and his Colorado Springs congregation New Life Church snagged an interesting mention in "Science & Theology News" yesterday. The article focused on scientist Richard Dawkins' visit to the church several months ago, which he used in his two-part British television special on religion titled "Root of All Evil?"

"Science & Theology" explores the synergy between science and theology. There are lots of discussions about evolution, ethics and the afterlife. The publication doesn't fawn over religion, but it doesn't belittle it either, and it took a very dim view of atheist Dawkins' treatment of New Life: Dawkins titled the New Life episode "The Virus of Faith" and compared the church's worship services to Nazi war rallies.

"These anti-religious atheists, who want us to call them 'brights,' are now presuming to study religious behavior as if it were schizophrenia or claustrophobia," writes Science & Theology editor Karl Giberson. "They will watch religious life from afar, and then patronizingly explain where religion comes from and how it originated because of the role it played in the survival of some primitive tribe in the early days of evolution."

A new book by Dawkins, called "The God Delusion," is scheduled for release this September.

Focus follow

A follow-up to a couple of earlier blog items this week:

Tom Minnery at Focus on the Family says the organization won't discourage people from voting come November, contrary to a New York Times story The Gazette reprinted Monday.

"Conservatives are concerned about the pace of progress on federal issues important to the family," he wrote to me via e-mail. "Dr. Dobson was in Washington to talk about this with members of Congress, not to issue any threats or ultimatums. The New York Times reporter got it wrong in his story over the weekend."

Hearts of a Champion

Connor Randall was fading.

In 2004, doctors determined that the 12-year-old's transplanted heart, which he had received when he was six months old, was failing. For 13 months, the Arvada resident waited for another donor heart, all the while getting sicker. By the summer of 2005, Connor could barely walk up the stairs. He always was wrapped in a blanket, his fading heart unable to circulate enough blood to keep his body warm. He felt it each time his heart took a beat: It literally shook him.

In those days, he often felt another regular shiver -- this one at his hip. It was his prayer phone line -- a cell phone set to vibrate. Every time a friend or relative prayed for Connor, they'd dial the number, and he'd feel it vibrate.

The first day he had the phone, it buzzed more than 200 times.

Don't try to tell Connor that prayer doesn't matter. In a battle that's as much mental as physical, according to Connor, the prayer phone gave him a boost every time it buzzed. In August, 2005, he underwent heart transplant surgery again -- getting his third heart in 13 years.

Connor Randall, now 14, will take part in the 2006 American Heart Association Heart Walk, a 5-kilometer event in Memorial Park. He's making the rounds these days, talking about his heart operations, showing off his scars and stressing that heart disease is still Colorado's No. 1 killer.

As a religion writer, I wondered what part faith played in Connor's life during his sickness and recovery: Whether he felt God had deserted him during his sickness, whether it's possible to pray for another heart when it means someone else has to die.

While some might see some pretty rotten luck behind not one, but two faulty hearts, Connor sees a trail of small miracles. Though he doesn't know who his heart donor was, Connor prays for the donor's family every day.

The American Heart Association Heart Walk begins at 7:30 a.m. June 3. To register, go here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Get out and vote! Maybe!

Yesterday I riffed off a New York Times story that suggested conservative Christians might desert the GOP this November. I said that, while it's not unheard of for this powerful voting bloc to grumble over the Republican party's foot-dragging on what conservative Christians term "family issues," I couldn't imagine them telling voters to stay home.

Lo and behold, CitizenLink -- a grassroots lobbying arm of Colorado Springs'-based Focus on the Family -- sent out an e-mail blast to some of its constituents this morning.

"It's imperative that we keep -- and place even more -- conservatives in office to help advance pro-family policies," the e-mail read. "Long-standing issues like abortion, the federal marriage amendment and stem-cell research are bound to come up again during the next Congress. With pro-family margins already too close for comfort, this is not the time to be silent. Your voice is despearately needed this November."

Richard Viguerie said in the Times piece that, perhaps, conservatives would sit back and let the Republicans lose this time around to teach them all a lesson. It doesn't sound as if Focus is willing to let that happen -- at least not at this point.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mad as, um, heck

This morning's Gazette carried a New York Times story headlined "Conservative Christians irritated with GOP." The conservative Christians quoted feel they elect people to office and just don't get enough in return.

"There is a growing feeling among conservatives that the only way to cure the problem is for Republicans to lose the congressional elections this fall," the Times quoted Richard Viguerie, a direct-mail guru.

The story rightly points out that evangelicals often get disgruntled with the G.O.P., the political party they're closely associated with. They've loyally voted for pro-life politicians for decades, and yet abortion is still legal. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, withheld support from Republican politician Bob Dole in 1996, apparently in part because his lukewarm support for what Focus would call "family friendly" initiatives.

But will conservative leaders actually tell voters to stay home? After all, several "marriage protection" amendments will be up for a vote this November, including (most likely) at least one item in Colorado. Same-sex marriage is an extremely important issue to folks at organizations like Focus, which puts a lot of energy into these amendments.

We'll see how this issue develops as the election year rolls on. Focus will participate in a "Values Voter Summit" this September (a summit sponsored by the Family Research Council, an organization once connected to Focus), where conservative religious leaders may formulate a cohesive, issues-based strategy.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Da Question

Unless you've been under a rock, surely you know that "The Da Vinci Code," Dan Brown's controversial smash of a book, is now a major motion picture. It'll be in theaters May 19.

In the book, Brown makes some pretty wild statements about Christianity. Most scholars -- Christian and secular -- say most of Brown's conclusions are baseless and wrong.

Still, some "Da Vinci" readers think Brown may be onto something, which has Christians all aflutter on how to respond to the film. Several pastors in Colorado Springs are expected to speak about "Da Vinci" this weekend, including one at Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel (through its Spanish ministry). But will pastors tell their congregants to stay away from the theaters next weekend or go see what all the fuss is about? Here are a few of the possibilities:

1) Boycott. This is the favored response overseas, it appears. Some high-level folks in the Vatican have called for a boycott. In India, a Catholic group called for a hunger strike unless the Indian government bans the movie. In America, several conservative leaders say they'll boycott, including Ted Baehr, founder and editor of the Movieguide, and Don Feder, president of Jews Againt Anti-Christian Defamation.

2) "Othercott." Barbara Nicholosi, founder of Act One (an organization that trains Christians for jobs in the movie and television industry), wants Christians to go to the movies next weekend -- just not to "Da Vinci."

"Let's rock the box office in a way no one expects -- without protests, without boycotts, without arguments, without rancor," she writes in a column for Christianity Today, a leading evangelical publication.

3) Accept and use the movie. This seems to be the primary reaction, particularly among apologists -- people in the business of defending their Christian faith with reasoned arguments. Some have called "Da Vinci" an educational opportunity akin to "The Passion of the Christ," the Mel Gibson movie that took in around $370 million a couple of years ago. Dozens of books have been written about "Da Vinci," blasting Brown's claims but nevertheless hitching themselves to his sales and noteriety. The conservative Dallas Theological Seminary is offering podcasts refuting Brown's claims. Focus on the Family , based in Colorado Springs-based organization, has been active in dealing with "Da Vinci," offering a Web site, help for families and pastors and even promoting a "Da Vinci"-related simulcast to churches. Alex McFarland, Focus' point person on "Da Vinci," has called Brown's book "blasphemy on steroids." But he also says the movie has the potential to encouarge people to think more deeply about their faith. And that can't be bad, he says.

"If it prods them into some study, some apologetics, that's a good thing," he said.

Because it's Friday ...

And you need a break from church-state issues, Episcopalian schisms and porn-themed Bible covers ...

A Buddhist went to the dentist because one of his molars was aching. His dentist was about to inject him with a hefty shot of novocaine, but the Buddhist shook his head. "Why not?" the dentist asked. The Buddhist replied, "I want to transcend dental medication."

Credit goes to about three dozen Internet sites with versions of this joke.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Organists and church musicians are apparently in scarce supply in England these days, making room for church-based karaoke.

London-based Hymn Technology Ltd. is the maker of the HT-300 Hymnal Plus, a digital hymn player that can play thousands of canticles, hymns and worship songs for music-hungry congregations. It can sound like a pipe organ or a piano or an accoustic guitar, and it comes with a remote control.

The company's Web site didn't list a price, but a recent story from Cox News Service said a mere $3,500 will put an HT-300 in a church. That's amazing, Grace.

Passionate outreach

Local Christian publisher NavPress will publish New Testament translations bearing the title "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" on the cover.

NavPress will publish the books -- repackaged versions of the company's wildly popular paraphrase "The Message" -- for, an organization that ministers to porn addicts and people involved in the porn industry. The books will be available only through, and won't have a presence on NavPress' Web site. XXXChurch plans to distribute the books at erotica conventions.

According to Lauren Libby, a vice president for NavPress' parent organization The Navigators, printing the new version was a no-brainer. The books are designed to reach the same kinds of folks that Jesus hung out with back in the day.

"That's the thing, you know," Libby said. "The Lord does care about everybody."

Monday, May 08, 2006

Episcopal tension

The Episcopal Church elected a new heterosexual bishop of California this weekend. This is not normally material for the secular press, but in this case, the election was news.

California's slate of nine candidates included two gays and a lesbian. The election of one of these candidates could've smashed any hope of the country's Epscopal Church to mend its relations with the Anglican Communion, a worldwide network of around 70 million Episcopalian and Anglican believers. The Communion is still in a tizzy over the 2003 election of the Rev. Gene Robinson, Rhode Island's openly gay bishop, and it's possible that the Episcopal Church could either be kicked out of the Communion, schism over the controversy, or both. And Episcopalians will discuss all these dicey issues this summer at their general convention.

The Rev. Donald Armstrong, rector for Colorado Springs' largest Episcopal Church, Grace Church and St. Stephens, has been extremely critical of Robinson's election; his outspoken ways made him a national spokesman for Episcopal conservatives in 2003-04. But locally, as elsewhere, Episcopalians are split. They are a deeply liturgical people, so biblical pronouncements against homosexuality carry weight. But they've also prided themselves for their compassion; Episcopal church doors are often painted red to symbolize literal sanctuary -- that soldiers could not pursue an enemy beyond the red door.

The convention will begin June 13 and last for a week. By then, perhaps, we'll have a better idea of what the nation's Episcopal Church will look like -- and with whom it will be affiliated -- for the next century.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Whose day of prayer?

At 9:44 (Eastern Time) this morning, President George Bush welcomed Colorado Springs resident Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, to the White House.

"I appreciate the Chairman of the National Day of Prayer, Shirley Dobson," Bush said. "I notice you brought your old husband with you, too."

Dobson's husband, of course, is James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and some would say a major player in Bush's re-election in 2004.

Bush's statement -- referring to Dobson as the Day of Prayer's chair, not the Task Force's chair -- underscored, I think, how tightly the National Day of Prayer is tied to the evangelical community these days. Though it's a multifaith observance -- recognized by the Prez and all 50 state governors -- evangelical Christians have been its primary movers since it was pegged to the first Thursday in May in the late 1980s. This year, Shirley Dobson's Task Force helped organized a 90-hour Bible-reading marathon on the U.S. Capitol's west lawn. It's the kind of display that makes some church/state separation advocates uncomfortable.

The official prayer used by Dobson's Task Force (written by Henry Blackaby) does not pray in the name of Jesus, and its Old Testament tone could be interpreted in a variety of ways. But I'm pretty sure that the majority of the folks observing today's National Day of Prayer have predominantly conservative values -- and vote Republican.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The coolest churches

LIFE, the long-running national magazine, ran a story April 14 titled "Churches American Style," a pretty entertaining look at the country's largest, smallest, hippest and "loftiest" churches.

No Colorado churches made LIFE's story, but it -- along with our entertainment's section's annual "Best of" edition (due out May 19) -- got me thinking: Would it be cool to do a similar wrapup of Colorado Springs churches? It seems we've got enough diversity around here to make it interesting. What's the prettiest church in town? The loudest? The one with the best non-Starbucks coffee?

If you have thoughts -- categories or churches you'd like to see included on such a list -- give me a holler. Either slap it on the blog or write me at

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gay and faithful

On May 1, in a hotel across the street from Focus on the Family, about 30 Colorado religious leaders spent six hours talking about God, marriage and the upcoming elections. They feel God's on their side -- and groups like Focus are on the wrong one.

The religious leaders belong to a group called Colorado Clergy for Equality in Marriage, and they're gearing up for a November fight to legalize civil unions and block an amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. The purpose of this statewide summit was to figure out ways to distribute their message -- the message that, for some believers, "moral values" means standing up for gay rights.

Denominations represented in the meeting included United Church of Christ, Lutheran, Unitarian-Universalist, Episcopalian and the Metropolitan Community Church. The coalition, leaders say, is broader.

"It's what their faith demands," said Harry Knox of the D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay and lesbian activist group. "It's what God demands."

Knox was on hand to facilitate the meeting. Though no one at the meeting was ready to talk about concrete strategies developed there, leaders said they'll get their message out through both conventional means (newspapers, television, radio) and non-conventional ones (business newsletters, church bulletins, one-on-one discussions). They say that polls are trending their way -- that homosexuality is far more accepted now than it was 20 years ago, and that people are growing increasingly tolerant of gay and lesbian lifestyles.

The group may have a tough road ahead this election cycle, however. Several states have already passed amendments protecting the traditional definition of marriage. In fact, no such amendment has ever been rejected by voters.

Leaders for Colorado Clergy for Equality in Marriage would see the passage of such an amendment as a temporary setback.

"The work will continue," Knox said.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Don't walk out, say bishops

Colorado's three Roman Catholic bishops asked Catholics to ignore today's immigration walkout, a national protest that included a scheduled 11 a.m. rally at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs.

The bishops -- Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan and Pueblo Bishop Arthur Tafoya -- all support immigration reform, and even designated May as a month of prayer for "justice for immigrants," according to a story posted on The Colorado Catholic Herald Web site. But walking out, the bishops argue, is counterproductive.

"Real immigration reform requires reasonable dialogue, and positive actions that persuade our elected officials," the bishops said in their letter, read at parishes across Colorado on April 30. "Walkouts, as well-intentioned as they may be, do not serve that end."

If you want to check out the bishop's whole statement, go here.