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Pastor Steve Holt is like the Energizer Bunny for God. Ten years ago, he started preaching in his house; his Mountain Springs Church in northeast Colorado Springs now has 3,000 congregants. Pastor Steve loves to talk, as evidenced on his radio show airing several days a week on 100.7 FM, where he ties his religion to topics like, "Get a Life Fix in 2006." He's got a solid marriage, a sense of humor and seven kids.

"They just keep coming," he says. "I've got a good-looking wife, and the fires start burning, and before you know it, another one is on the way.

"It's easier to make 'em than to parent 'em."

Pastor Steve's jaw dropped to the floor a year ago, when he learned the divorce rate in El Paso County is as high as 70 percent. That'smore than anywhere in Colorado, which has the fifth-highest divorce rate in the nation. "I could not believe it. It was just shocking."

And who better, he figured, to take up the battle for marriage than religious leaders like himself? Joined by what he estimates will be 75 to 100 other local ministers of varying denominations, Pastor Steve is, with the blessing of Mayor Lionel Rivera, kicking off a countywide "Marriage Covenant" at City Hall on Friday, Feb. 10.

The plan is to inspire church leaders to incorporate couples' mentoring and marriage counseling programs into their places of worship. It's an admirable goal.

Unfortunately, Colorado Springs may be one of the worst places around to do this. That's because, despite our well-established reputation as Scripture Central, we actually are a city of heathens. Only 21 percent of us actually go to a house of worship on any given weekend, well below the national average of 35 percent.

Pastor Steve puts it this way: "The notion that Colorado Springs is a religious city is a mega-misnomer. We have a ton of religious organizations, but we do not have a very spiritual city."

So when it comes to the "Marriage Covenant," a full 79 percent of the city's population would appear to be out of luck. But Pastor Steve isn't done with statistics. Even though, locally, only one in five people go to church, synagogue or mosque, he says that, since an estimated 86 percent of marrying couples come to houses of worship for the ceremony, he and other religious leaders do have a chance to get the hooks in.

And, yes, Pastor Steve acknowledges the irony in the fact that at a time when so many people are getting divorced, gay and lesbian couples who want to get married cannot. But to him that's a completely separate, political issue, not a place he really wants to go.

"I'm not for gay and lesbian marriages as a Bible-teaching evangelical pastor, I don't see that in the Scripture," he says. "But I love all people, and want them to come to know and have a powerful and wonderful marriage."

Which means, hypothetically, that gays and lesbians who do want to get hitched should marry someone with whom they are not in love which really doesn't translate, since common sense tells us that unions without love and, yes, sex drive, are more likely to end in divorce.

For what it's worth, Pastor Steve's effort to promote strong and committed unions is to be lauded. After all, it's not like he's trying to get a law enacted forcing couples to undergo a year of counseling before they can divorce, for example. And it's not like he's pushing an amendment to legally restrict marriage to being between one man and one woman which, as noted earlier, has only a three in 10 chance of survival.

Pastor Steve probably doesn't live in a glass house, but even if he did, he doesn't appear the type who casts stones.

As he modestly puts it: "I'm from Georgia and I'm not too smart, but I can figure out a few things."


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