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. FrancoC

    I do not believe that "there is no god" or that "god does not exists": I just cannot believe in god (existing or non existing). I am an atheist.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Horus

      That'd be "apatheist"..... ;-}

      June 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • John

      so you're moreso an agnostic, not an atheist. Atheism is the complete and total lack of belief in the existence of a god

      June 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  2. Linden Pike

    One civilization's religion is the next civilization's mythology.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Or not.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  3. J.R.

    It's not that unreasonable. One time I drank an entire bottle of Robitussin. I was pretty sure I saw God.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  4. DrJStrangepork

    Look out Catholics... it is a trap.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  5. Snorlax

    More proof that athiests don't know what tehy are talking about...

    June 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jack

      tehy do too!

      June 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • ialsoagree

      Only in the same way that EVERY atheist is proof that theists don't know what they're talking about.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  6. Zooni

    If Leah Libresco was a TOP atheist blogger I would have heard of her. Sounds like propaganda to me.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  7. Tim L

    Wow she must have met some hot Catholic guy and "came to see the light"

    June 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Linden Pike

      A guy who's favorite movie is Pinocchio

      June 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  8. Tickticker

    It's not that I don't have faith in god or believe there is no god, I KNOW there is no god, Just like I KNOW there is no tooth fairy, santa, Zeus, Thor, etc.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Zooni

      If Leah Libresco was atheist to Islam and living in Saudi Arabia, would she have converted. Did she read every religious text on the planet to figure out what the REAL religion is.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Such certainty requires a great faith

      June 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Zooni Your error is that you think searching for the right religion is empirical, like searching for the best stock to invest in. It is a subjective experience and likely has been a revelation to her with some intellectual properties intertwined. She may have chosen Islam if that is the tradition that spoke to her. But Christianity resonated with her and so the revelation of God's love is expressed through it to her.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Semantic Romantic

      Bill Deacon
      "Such certainty requires a great faith"

      Well, it that's the way you see it, then MORE faith is better, right?!

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

      You twist my words. I know I am sitting on a chair, and I know there is no god. Doesn't take faith to realize my butt is on something. Knowledge failth in any way. Quite the opposite actually. If you have knowledge of something, any type of faith you may have will no longer apply to mere existence, but some other aspect. Really, let's all be adults and throw away childish toys like a man in the sky.

      June 22, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Tickticker

      Hmmm, Knowledge does NOT equal faith. My inequality sign was dropped.

      June 22, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  9. cedar rapids

    what i do find funny is the comment section of the theblaze article about this has actually become a slanging match between catholic and non-catholic christians. The atheists may as well just grab a seat, a bucket of popcorn and watch the fireworks, its getting nasty.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  10. Phreefall

    I'm afraid that Ms. Libresco might be a little confused and disoriented in her new-found faith. Once she (and many others) realize that religion and denomination are two different things, and that what really matters is a personal understanding and personal relationship with God, perhaps she (and others) might finally understand the gravity of her (and their) choices. For the time being, I will applaud her decision and pray for her to gain deeper understanding.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  11. Jack

    I'll convert to whatever religion will get me in dem panties.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  12. Me_Now

    What absolute loads of baloney.... both sides:

    1) Any atheist who descends into rational conflict with a theist has already bitten off more than is possible to chew.

    2) No theist has ever known God.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  13. Rhonda

    I'm having a hard time comprehending going from not believing in God to Catholicism. Huh?

    June 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Colin Morgan

      Perhaps she decided to come out of the closet as a pedo and realized the Catholic church is more accepting.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I venture that she is intellectually honest and continued to do what atheist propound but often avoid, she kept seeking truth.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  14. Ticktockman0

    Well, I went from Catholic to atheist, so I suppose it's a wash. From what I read, this young lady did not start out with a rational or scientific perspective, so such "conversion" is not a surprise.

    "Morality" is not, as she believes, some external force. It is an ethical sense that is part innate programming in our species, part learned. It is no more external to humans than our eye color.

    But, hey, live and let live.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Which part is learned and who teaches it?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  15. atroy

    She's looking for morality and turned to Catholicism??. Obviously she missed the class on how to use your brain.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  16. Steve Male

    I think Fox News is behind this story!

    June 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Ting

      Nice.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  17. Colin Morgan

    Imma write a book on converting to Catholicism and make a million bucks and create a megachurch. Bring me my pen.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I dare you to inquire into the Church in this manner and write your book. You may find more there than you bargain for.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  18. AverageJoe76

    Very, very strange. I guess my question is; what was your reasoning for being an atheist? Beacuse I realized that in order for me to change, I would need a 'Paul-going-to-Damascus' moment. Like Jesus would literally have to walk down a staircase made of clouds and M&M's, grab me by the hand, give me a ride on a magic carpet singing "A Whole New World"
    while we tour Earth. Other than that, it'd be hard to convince me.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  19. Linden Pike

    An atheist blogger is as necessary as the handsoap in the Harlem McDonalds bathroom.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • yeahalright

      So...very necessary?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  20. andrew.peter

    Well she joins a long list of well known atheists who have converted to Christianity. CS Lewis, Lee Strobel, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Kirk Cameron, Patrick Greene, and most notably, Peter Steele of Type O Negative.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • yeahalright

      "most notably.." That's a good one, got a real LOL out of me! Who said christians weren't funny?

      Keep trumpeting your few high profile converts. The trend lines are all in the opposite direction. A few more generations till you guys are rightfully outcast as the delusional loons you truly are.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • ialsoagree

      So... what?

      Even if we accept that all those people did convert, as you say, what difference would it make?

      Would the pope choosing to be an atheist today make ANY difference as to whether god exists or not?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • John

      I doubt I could find an atheist who has ever heard of her. Get back to me when Dawkins converts and then you will have something to brag out

      June 22, 2012 at 2:21 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.