home
RSS
June 22nd, 2012
11:27 AM ET

Prominent atheist blogger converts to Catholicism

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – She went from atheist to Catholic in just over 1,000 words.

Leah Libresco, who’d been a prominent atheist blogger for the religion website Patheos, announced on her blog this week that after years of debating many “smart Christians,” she has decided to become one herself, and that she has begun the process of converting to Catholicism.

Libresco, who had long blogged under the banner “Unequally Yoked: A geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend,” said that at the heart of her decision were questions of morality and how one finds a moral compass.

“I had one thing that I was most certain of, which is that morality is something we have a duty to,” Libresco told CNN in an interview this week, a small cross dangling from her neck. “And it is external from us. And when push came to shove, that is the belief I wouldn’t let go of. And that is something I can’t prove.”

CNN's Belief Blog: the faith angles behind the big stories

According to a Patheos post she wrote on Monday, entitled “This is my last post for the Patheos Atheist Portal,” she began to see parts of Christianity and Catholicism that fit her moral system. Though she now identifies as a Catholic, Libresco questions certain aspects of Catholicism, including the church’s positions on homosexuality, contraception and some aspects of religious liberty.

“There was one religion that seemed like the most promising way to reach back to that living Truth,” Libresco wrote about Catholicism in her conversion announcement post, which has been shared over 18,000 times on Facebook. “I asked my friend what he suggests we do now, and we prayed the night office of the Liturgy of the Hours together.”

At the end of the post, Libresco announces that she is in a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults class and is preparing for baptism. She will continue to blog for Patheos, but under the banner, “A geeky convert picks fights in good faith.”

According to Dan Welch, director of marketing for Patheos, Libresco’s post has received around 150,000 page views so far.

“Leah's blog has gotten steadily more popular since she arrived at Patheos, but a typical post on her blog is probably closer to the range of 5,000 page views,” Welch wrote in an email. “Even now, a few days later, her blog is probably getting 20-30 times its normal traffic.”

Libresco’s announcement has left some atheists scratching their heads.

“I think atheists were surprised that she went with Catholicism, which seems like a very specific choice,” Hemant Mehta, an atheist blogger at Patheos, told CNN. “I have a hard time believing how someone could jump from I don’t believe in God to a very specific church and a very specific God.”

Mehta says that Libresco’s conversion is a “one-off thing” and not something that signals any trend in atheism. “The trends are very clear, the conversions from Catholicism to atheism are much more likely to happen than the other way around,” he said.

But while atheists were puzzled by the conversion, others commended Libresco.

“I know I’ve prayed for her conversion several times, always thinking she would make a great Catholic,” wrote Brandon Vogt, a Catholic blogger. “And with this news, it looks like that will happen. Today heaven is roaring with joy.”

Thomas L. McDonald, a Catholic Patheos blogger, welcomed Libresco to the fold: “Welcome. I know this was hard, and will continue to be so. Don’t worry if the Catholics make it as for difficult for you as the atheists. We only do it to people we love.”

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Libresco says one of the most common questions she has received is how she'll deal with atheists now.

“The great thing about a lot of the atheist and skeptic community is that people talk more critically about ideas and want to see proof provided,” Libresco said. “That kind of analytical thinking is completely useful and the Catholic Church doesn’t need to and should not be afraid of because if you’ve got the facts on your side, you hope they win.”

Libresco is just switching the side she thinks the facts are on.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Catholic Church

soundoff (7,475 Responses)
  1. bluegillonthefly

    Welcome to the team, Leah. My wife is also a former atheist who saw the light and became Catholic.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Aucausin

      I hate to break it to you, but your wife is most likely just lying to appease you. There is no light, there is no proof, no evidence. You can not believe in something that does not exist, once you accept that something does not exist, you can not believe in it anymore. You can however, lie.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Flippy1124

      Guess what bluegillonthefly, if you were Jewish, guess what your wife would be now?

      June 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Olsonic

      I think you're using a particularly inflammatory word, "lie" to make an emotional impact; but its not reasonable to assume that is what is going on, you're using a half-truth because it sounds better, and it damages any coherent point you could have made. It seems to me that "self-deception" would be a better choice. 1st, it doesn't imply that the woman is intentionally deceiving her partner. Intentional deception is something humans have evolved to resent in others because it may make us choose a path we wouldn't have otherwise chosen. 2nd, it suggests the woman could have made an unconscious, and reasonable cost-benefit analysis... to forfeit some of her intellectual independence for the sake of something more desireable to her, a life-partner.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  2. What If...

    What are you really losing by believing?
    Let's say you live this life as a believer in God but in reality God, Heaven and Hell are all fiction. Because you believe you strive to live a good life with hope and morals and dignity, you are kind and loving and respectful. You do good deeds and find yourself to be a good person. You teach your children to be believers who have hope and are good, kind and loving people. You grow old, you die, you become dust and you are none the wiser if it's all fiction. You really lose nothing. You lived a good life full of hope.

    Let's say you live this life as a non believer but God, Heaven and Hell do exist. Because you have morals you live a good life just like the person above with care and respect and dignity. You are kind and loving and good. You grow old, you die, you then face judgement and because you chose not to believe, you are cast away from all that is perfect and beautiful about eternity. You lose everything and most importantly, you lived a life without hope for what will come.

    I do believe but I do not try to shove my belief onto anyone and as "crazy" as many non believers have tried to make me feel for my belief, instead of choosing what I can prove, I choose what gives me hope.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • yeahalright

      1. What you're saying is "if you don't believe, then pretend to believe." I think any god would see right through that don't you think? Most gods get pretty ticked at lying to them. At least I'm being honest. You're saying lie to god?

      2. Your second paragraph is perhaps the primary reason I reject god. You mean I can do everything right, everything exactly how god would want me to do it, but if I reject (or say I was born somewhere where they don't even know about your god) your god, then I get to burn in hell forever because he has an ego that needs to be stroked by my love and belief? Then screw your god. That's right, screw the egomaniacal jerk.

      I'll take my life well led and my afterlife in hell for the crime of being honest, then.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • What If...

      1. You are exactly right when you say that God would see through your reasons for believing. But from my experiences as a believer, you either do or you don't. I am not saying to pretend, I am simply making a point that if your heart leads you to God, there should be no pretending involved. You truly do have hope, you truly should strive to live an honorable life. If you sincerely believe, you can't pretend because your heart is changed.
      2. You must understand that Christianity has absolutely nothing to do with how "well" you live your life. As a Christian, you believe that Jesus was God's son who died for our sins in order to give us a greater hope. Without that belief in Jesus, mine or your perfectly lived life means nothing. I do not believe that God holds you accountable or condemns you to "burn in hell" for what you have never been given the opportunity to hear and believe. “How shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14) But the truth is, that a vast majority of our world has heard and have had the opportunity. It's what they choose to do with that. As Christians, we believe the word of God is true. Either it's there to give examples, tell stories, or to educate. I believe it's okay to question some of it. I can see where people would as I did for a long time. I also trust that God is big enough to handle my questions. But because I have had the experience of both not believing and believing, I can honestly say that greater hope lies with God.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Brad

      You say "Without that belief in Jesus, mine or your perfectly lived life means nothing". Wow. All life means nothing if you don't believe that a Jewish Zombie, who was his own father, can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree?
      What if I just skip all that nonsense and believe that Jesus exists because he rolled against the Dude in The Big Lebowski?

      June 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • giallo

      yeahalright and Brad: I couldn't agree more with the both of you.

      June 25, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  3. uru

    Good for her. Atheism is cool when your young and have your whole life ahead of you. But it simply cannot answer the important questions. She won't regret her decision.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Since when can religion answer the important questions?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  4. J

    To atheists:

    /hugs

    from a Christian.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Aaron

      Thanks!

      Hugs back.

      From an Atheist.

      June 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • giallo

      Hugs to the both of you.

      From an atheist 🙂

      June 25, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  5. Rick

    See evil spirits cast out at emmanuel,tv or wonders of God at htchurch. come

    June 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  6. nottolate

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but she's jumping out of the fry pan and into the fire. Catholics aren't Christian. Not even one of them.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Dliodoir

      How do you arrive at that astonishingly wrong conclusion?

      June 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • bluegillonthefly

      Yes, we are, and you are a liar. We are not only Christians, we are the original Christians. You have perhaps heard of St. Peter, the first pope? You know, "On this Rock I will build My church" and all that?

      Until the Lutheran schism, that's all there were: Catholics. Some Roman, some Byzantine, but all Catholics. There are, to this day, hate spewers who claim otherwise, but that does not alter the truth.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • nottolate

      Not wrong at all. One has only to read the Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post Nicene Fathers to find out what happened when in church history. Its a log of events as they occurred back then. The Catholic Church was formed by heretics who were excommunicated from the authentic church for being heretics in 139 AD. The bishop of Rome who voted to excommunicate the heretics later readmitted them and was himself excommunicated from the authentic Church. That would have been proper. He then went on to name himself the first pope and the RCC was born. Meanwhile, the authentic Christian church has always carried on. The RCC of course has labored greatly to sweep this under the rug and concoct a different history. But its all there in black and white. A little leaven leavens the whole lump, remember? And so that entire church is leavened and fake born of heretics. Log entry from the early church fathers covering this:

      "So, then, after many controversies among them, which are not worthy of mention, a Synod was assembled at Saragossa, at which even the Aquitanian bishops were present. But the heretics did not venture to submit themselves to the judgment of the council; sentence, however, was passed against them in their absence, and Instantius and Salvianus, bishops, with Helpidius and Priscillian, laymen, were condemned. It was also added that if any one should admit the p. 120 condemned persons to communion, he should understand that the same sentence would be pronounced against himself. And the duty was entrusted to Ithacius, bishop of Sossuba, of seeing that the decree of the bishops was brought to the knowledge of all, and that Hyginus especially should be excluded from communion, who, though he had been the first to commence open proceedings against the heretics, had afterwards fallen away shamefully and admitted them to communion."

      June 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Get off the stove altogether, both of you. There is no god.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • nottolate

      @bluegillonthefly and Dliodoir

      Not wrong at all. One has only to read the Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post Nicene Fathers to find out what happened when in church history. Its a log of events as they occurred back then. The Catholic Church was formed by heretics who were excommunicated from the authentic church for being heretics in 139 AD. The bishop of Rome who voted to excommunicate the heretics later readmitted them and was himself excommunicated from the authentic Church. That would have been proper. He then went on to name himself the first pope and the RCC was born. Meanwhile, the authentic Christian church has always carried on. The RCC of course has labored greatly to sweep this under the rug and concoct a different history. But its all there in black and white. A little leaven leavens the whole lump, remember? And so that entire church is leavened and fake born of heretics. Log entry from the early church fathers covering this:

      "So, then, after many controversies among them, which are not worthy of mention, a Synod was assembled at Saragossa, at which even the Aquitanian bishops were present. But the heretics did not venture to submit themselves to the judgment of the council; sentence, however, was passed against them in their absence, and Instantius and Salvianus, bishops, with Helpidius and Priscillian, laymen, were condemned. It was also added that if any one should admit the p. 120 condemned persons to communion, he should understand that the same sentence would be pronounced against himself. And the duty was entrusted to Ithacius, bishop of Sossuba, of seeing that the decree of the bishops was brought to the knowledge of all, and that Hyginus especially should be excluded from communion, who, though he had been the first to commence open proceedings against the heretics, had afterwards fallen away shamefully and admitted them to communion."

      June 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • nottolate

      @bluegillonthefly,

      The Luther event was actually a revival and an act of God alone and not some reformation as claimed. The authentic church needed no reformation and carried on separately after Hyginus was excommunicated and formed the RCC.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  7. membership

    Leah just joined a club in the social sense. She doesn't now believe in an almighty god – she is just fitting in.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  8. Seriously

    Prominent atheist blogger? Who is she? In the process of converting to Catholicism? Is there an initiation? Sorry you lost your way Leah.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  9. Donald Paul Winston

    Maybe she will work to "improve" christianity and Catholicism.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • nottolate

      Catholics aren't Christian. Never have been. Nor can you improve Christianity.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  10. vaccinium

    So.....this is news?

    June 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  11. Just be a good person.

    She obviously wasn't that much of an atheist. Weather your a jew, muslim, catholic, baptist, Hindu or atheist you are guaranteed one thing and that is to die. Only the dead understand what it is like to have died. We as humans are limited to our own ideas of this world, and religion is one that belongs in the dark ages when people needed something to look at for morality and guidance. Religion has been used by humans to dehumanize and reprogram enemies (crusades), and to give allegiance to peoples respective monarchs. I'm not an atheist as I believe that humans cannot understand the intangible. We live in bubble and eventually that bubble will pop (maybe in a million years) like when we found out we weren't the centre of the universe.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Ryan

      There is much we cannot understand as humans. One thing we know however is that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again after death before he ascended to heaven. Whitnessed... Recorded... FACT

      June 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • truedat

      Well put.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • truedat

      let me clarify, well put to what "Just be a good person" said

      June 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • OverHere

      @Ryan:
      Just because it was written in a book does not make it a "recorded fact". There's this crazy new thing called fiction, Google it.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • awestley

      I agree with all of this. I myself have always been skeptical of things that have such an obvious up-side to them when all other facts are equal. We owe it to ourselves to assess things like this and not just go with the option we want to be true. In either case your goal in life should involve being a benefit to the world as you KNOW it exists. Either because you will go to hell if you don't or knowing that you are not helping the one world (and existence) you have.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  12. clubschadenfreude

    all this seems like is the usual "I need to get my foot in the pearly gates" nonsense from people who realize they are mortal and don't like it. But really, choosing Catholicism??? a religion that is utterly corrupt and the best evidence itself that there is no god at all, since it can't do anything about the verminous priests that prey on children within it? And please don't give me the "free will" nonsense. That vanishes as soon as you read the bible where this god had no problem in killing people left and right, for darign to keep his magical box upright (Uzzah), to not giving enough of their money to it (Acts 5 Ananais and Saphira), or miracle that god intervenes in human events, all through the bible.

    This woman is no more "catholic" than I am, with her not unexpected "but I don't agree with it all" excuses. I follow the golden rule too but I sure don't agree that the pope is all that nor that everyone who isn't Catholic will be damned (that only changed when JP2 decided that other theists magically now had "part" of some nonsensical "truth"). What a sad little hypocrite.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  13. johnny

    Amen!

    June 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  14. Rick

    She still need help- She need an encounter with God and religion

    June 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • clubschadenfreude

      good for you Rick! Just what I need to see, more theists who are sure that their religion is the only "true" one and watching them all fail, all unable to actually support their claims with evidence. None of yuo can show that you are the special snowflakes you hope yourselves to be.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  15. solowd

    Morality is a human invention. To think otherwise is very naive.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  16. AGeek

    "Libresco is just switching the side she thinks the facts are on." Uhm. Facts are irrefutable, repeatable nuggets of information. There is no opinion allowed with facts. You can't change them to fit your whim.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  17. James Ross

    This puzzle is a very easy one to solve: "....her Catholic boyfriend....". Basically she did it for a guy.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • AGeek

      Bingo.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Shelley

      You are spot on...can't you just hear the wedding bells?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  18. Greyhound37

    Prominent? In her own mind?
    Never heard of her before reading this article.
    Reading the backstory that she was dating a Catholic and going to mass with him every week, whilst writing a blog for a religious website? Yeah, sounds very atheistic.. LOL

    June 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  19. Aucausin

    Few people can or want to handle atheism in a religious society. It's just so easy to lie and pretend to believe in the outlandish to gain the support of the majority of your family, friends, and society in general. It takes conviction to put yourself at a social disadvantage solely to say you don't believe in something. Indoctrination and social pressure is a powerful thing and they're the bread and butter behind the success and spread of organized religions.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  20. Andy

    Welcome home!

    June 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.