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. Steve393

    She'll be back.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • TC

      Not an adult convert – she saw the lies.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Lies? No, those belong to the church.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  2. Frank

    Her blog post can be summed up as 'I encountered a gap in my knowledge that I could not provide an absolute truth to explain so I decided that if I couldn't provide that answer I would just accept someone else's truth'.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Sam

      It really does. I don't understand temporal physics but that doesn't mean I believe that Dr. Who is real.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Krug Lamner

      I don't understand genetic mutation therefore X-Men must be real.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  3. WachetAuf

    She says that moraility comes from above. So why did she pick Christianity? Other religions and their gods have high moral standards. Judaism, as an example, my view, has a very high set of moral values and its members have been murdered for their beliefs. Bhuddist philosophy has a very high set of moral values without the trappings of Christianity. Bhuddism, for example, never attempted to make anyone believe that he was a god.

    Is it possible that she picked Christianity because of the herding instinct, fear. She needs the safety and comfort offered by the herd. It is lonely being an atheist. There are no herds where she can hide. There are no songs to appeal to our primitive emotional needs. No parties. No Christmas trees. People suspect that you may be crazy, insecure. I do not hold her in contempt. I sympathize. I only think that all of us must understand ourselves and what drives us much better than we do. Jesus himself was not a herder. He did not seek the safety of the herd. He got eaten because he did not take refuge in the middle of the pack.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • stormchaser1983

      she just joined a religion that covers up pedophile priests and punishes caring nuns! Wow, what morals!!!!

      June 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  4. Adrianne

    It's unclear in the article. Does she believe in the father, son, & holy spirit? Does she believe that Jesus Christ died for her sins and rose from the dead and has all power in his hands? Catholocism is supposed to be a demonstration of Christianity. Is she a christian?

    June 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  5. Aida Cecilia Moreno

    Strange her reasoning as the Catholic church is perhaps the farthest of Christian faiths practicing what the Bible really teaches. However, it's quite easy to be Catholic, thus the reason why so many convert. I suspect if she has an iota of spirituality really it sure won't be fulfilled there. Cordially.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • TC

      Pretty uch any religion besides Catholicsm takes little learning and education. Protestants are the worst as they cannot tell you WHY the Bible says what it does but 200 years is not much of a religion of maturity.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • HowsItGoin

      Yes TC,
      It really takes a couple of thousand years to have a real, mature religion.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • TC

      Yep – in terms of understanding and living out God's word – it really does. Look at the Jews in 2000 BC and look at them now – completely different mind set and behavior.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • HowsItGoin

      TC,
      Look at any group 2000 years ago vs today. Name me one that has the same mindset.
      So... how does 2000 years create a better religion than one that is 200 years old?

      June 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  6. Texas

    Atheism is a temporary condition for all atheists. Some will change before they die.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • HowsItGoin

      ??? There are 7 billion people in the world now. You will find some that have a fettish pulling clogged hair out of drains (yes, this was an actual fettish on that tv show, strange addictions. I saw it last night.)

      You can find anything you want. What's your point?

      June 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      and i would suggest most wont but whats your point?

      June 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • HOLYLOL

      and ALL christians become athiest when AFTER they die.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  7. Rumply

    Completely a guess, but if it is true it is sad... from her blog name, her boyfriend must be Catholic, and with the Catholic church, if you aren't Catholic you can't get married in a Catholic church with a Catholic ceremony. And if he is a true Catholic, he's got to have that ceremony in the eyes of god. So, for love and a desire to be with the one she loves, she "converts" just as publically as she denied it all and goes through the motions of belief.
    Explination makes more sense then "I converted because of the facts..."

    June 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  8. cpc65

    Try and live life as a good person and treat others as best as you can being friendly, repsectful or at least tolerant. That's all that really matters. If there is a god, he or she will be happy with you. The rest is all made up mumbo jumbo created by humans.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • cpc65

      Oh, and try to have a sense of humor. Life is too short otherwise.
      "NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!" – Monthy Python

      June 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Ghandi said if he didn't have a sense of humor he would have killed himself.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  9. Jasmine

    oh no, not to catholicism! the worst false church ever! Leah, if you really want to know and have a relationship with God, find yourself a bible believing church (where they actually open and read the bible and teach you something) that is non-denominational where one doesn't have to follow their doctrines and do these steps/sacraments (traditions and rituals) in order to be right with God. Believe and love God, love thy neighbor and read the Bible through your eyes and you'll be alright.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • TC

      Catholc church has been around 2000 years – your protestant version – about 200 years made up entirely by one man. Get educated on the Christian faith.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Steve

      I hear that the catholic church is the only true church. All other churches are fakes. Member of other churches are not true Christians. Consequently, you are not a true Christian. Why would anybody listen to you?

      June 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Ted

      @TC-not true.Henry the eighth was a protestant.That was over 200 years ago.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • TC

      Henry started his own church and he was just a heathen that professed to be a christian

      June 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Henry started his own church and he was just a heathen that professed to be a christian"

      and christ started his own church based on a personality cult.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  10. Converted

    I believe in God, Jesus Christ and The Holy Ghost. I was once agnostic leaning toward athiesm and had my mind changed with a question. Welcome sister... find your relationship with God. To all of my athiest brothers and sisters... you will most likely have the witness of the Holy Ghost sometime in your life. I hope you temper your rhetoric as it can be hard to swallow.

    I love you all!
    Come Unto Christ.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • HowsItGoin

      You have a life-changing question that you are not sharing with the rest of us?

      June 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Converted

      Yes, at the time when your heart is broken, ask God if this is real. Ask him to tell you in such a way as not to be mistaken. He will answer as it is promised in the scriptures.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • HowsItGoin

      So how did god give you your answer, may I ask?

      June 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      so what was that exactly? god breaking your heart in order to get you to convert or something?

      June 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Converted

      @cedar rapids – Life breaks your heart, God is there when it does.
      @HowsItGoing – God spoke to my mind and called me by name... He said this is how I talk to you. Immediately after, a feeling shot down my neck and throughout my body. I asked questions about the creation and about evolution and my mind was reconciled to these. The sciences we have are only witnesses to God. Books were made available to me to help my mind be reconciled. I learned that Darwin started in faith... that the theory was even furthered by a little monk... another man of God. I was led to study near death experiences. I have come away with the following: Praise God... Jesus is the Christ... We should love everybody as we love ourselves.

      God Bless.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • HowsItGoin

      @Converted,
      I'm sure it was real to you.
      Be happy.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  11. johno

    Thank God, for there is a God. He was their with Paul and now He is there with you Ms. Libresco. As a fellow Christian I welcome you with open arms.
    I want you however to begin to put on the armor of God because you are going to be tried and tested just like your Savior after His baptism. In your case evil will rebuke you for getting on the path of righteousness. But please remain steadfast and not be detered.
    If you at any time are made to feel that the bible is a lot of "you know what" do not ever forget rule one, There is a God. Regardless of what He looks like, regardless of what He does. He was the one who created this world. even if it was the simple act of colliding a few atoms. He did it and so He must be praised to encourage Him even though He doesn't need our encourgement because He is God all by Himself. May He continue to bless you and keep you on the path of wisdom truth knowledge peace and understanding. Oh,, also do not forget that we who serve Him sin we sin as long as the day is long, but The Lord knows our imperfections and foibles just don't judge us for your sins and foibles might be even more or greater. God Bless sis. the perfect prayer, Have mercy upon me Oh God a miserable sinner though I be.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • johno's doctor

      Sorry, I forgot to send johno's thorazine prescription. I'll send that over ASAP.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      so why did god make man flawed then?
      why does god need our worship?

      June 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • johno

      We were not created flawed Physically our anatomy is of such an elegant design that we mere mortals can only use abuse and look on in absolute envy.
      If you are refering to our myriad disfunctions, that is not God's fault because we live in a dispensation where corruption in any and every shape or form is part and parcel of our lives. I would however say to you that when these problems asail you are you like broken glass or a diamond. That is what my Christian faith helps me to be a diamond in the rough. With that their is no reason to have a quarrel with God but ask Him for enlightenment, wisdom, understanding and most of all the ability to love and even forgive.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • michigan

      ohh i do and by the way theres proven science facts that support a lot of the bibles claims too. like you told me since you gave me no answers but a book to go look up. lmao ill do the same go google proven science facts from the bible. you will get several from how the universe is expanding to how air has weight. theres to many to name. the bible made the claims thousands of years before any of them were made into scientific laws

      June 22, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  12. Jacquest Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

    If she chose Catholic over all other religions she wasn't thinking very logically.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  13. michigan

    i have a question to all atheist. what is your beliefs on how the world was created? please answer me!

    June 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Jacquest Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Did you even go to school? If you did, you would know the answer, unless you failed science class.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • TC

      Exactly – the logical conclusion of creation can never be explained to the small human mind and whether you beleive in God or "the universe" – the question in our small minds is who/what created who/what.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Texas

      Read Genesis Chapter 1

      June 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • michigan

      @ Jacquest Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler lmao yes i did go to school and no they never said how the world was created so you tell me since you know the answer and i don't? what created water? what created gravity? what created the earth and why is the earth so different then the other planets? what created the particles to crash together to create the big bang theory? by the way its just a science theory it hasnt been proven into a science law.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Flippy1124

      @Texas -LOL!, thats your answer!

      June 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Steve

      There are certainly questions we have no answers to but that's not a reason to make up any answer that you like.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Flippy1124

      @Michagin – Please look up the definition of a Scientific Theory. Also, lack of evidence DOES NOT equal evidence of a god.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you need to look up the definition of scientific theory and law michigan, theories do not become laws, they describe two entirely different things.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      It is a tad long to explain. I would suggest going to the library and picking out some great books from people like Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking.

      Just because something is considered a scientific theory, doesn't make it invalid. I'm not sure you have a grasp of the scientific method.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • michigan

      my bad i put my answer in the wrong spot.
      @flippy 1124 @Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      ohh i do and by the way theres proven science facts that support a lot of the bibles claims too. like you told me since you gave me no answers but a book to go look up. lmao ill do the same go google proven science facts from the bible. you will get several from how the universe is expanding to how air has weight. theres to many to name. the bible made the claims thousands of years before any of them were made into scientific laws

      June 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • TR6

      @michigan:”i have a question to all atheist. what is your beliefs on how the world was created? please answer me!”

      I don’t know; but, when I make my list of possibilities and order it by probability: “the universe has always been here and simply changed form about 13 billion years ago” is right up near the top and “the christian god did it” is down at the bottom along with “the great cosmic cat created it in its litter box” and “UFOs did it”

      June 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • TR6

      @michigan:”i have a question to all atheist. what is your beliefs on how the world was created? please answer me!”

      I don’t know; but, when I make my list of possibilities and order it by probability: “the universe has always been here and simply changed form about 13 billion years ago” is right up near the top and “the christian god did it” is down at the bottom

      June 22, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  14. n222s

    Atheists, my belief in a God doesn't impose my belief upon you. Have Christians attempted to impose? Yes, they have. But lets not be so ignorant as to believe history is devoid of the forced imposition of atheism or the state as the arbiter of proper religious beliefs. Communist countries have banned free and unfettered expression of religion.

    And as I read through the many posts on this board many messages are made clear but none such as transparent as this one; the belief that atheism is the way of superior and thinking humans and only the moronic or evil self-serving amongst the human race believe in the existence of a deity.

    I'll leave it to you to decide whether that is the very definition of bigotry; to believe in the superiority of self based upon beliefs or group membership. Have Christians been bigots? Oh yes, for crying out loud. However, a place of bigotry is not the exclusive provence of those who believe in the divinity of Christ.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Krug Lamner

      "forced imposition of atheism"

      Oh wow.

      http://theoatmeal.com/comics/atheism

      June 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • HowsItGoin

      I don't think you'll find an atheist here that is against the freedom of religion as well as freedom from religion, as you imply in your first paragraph.

      However, it is the secular populace that must be vigilant in keeping religion out of the public arena.
      And the belief in a supernatural being is a lagitamit subject for a debate. If you are so strong in your beliefs, you should welcome one.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • michigan

      well said! i just keep asking a simple question to atheist as to what their belief is to how the world started and none of them have answered my simple question yet they knock us for being Christians and believing in Jesus. smh

      June 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Flippy1124

      @Michigan – I would love to hear your answer

      June 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • n222s

      HowsItGoin, I don't believe atheists here believe in the forced imposition of atheism any more than Christians here believe in the forced imposition of Christianity. For if your proof of the non-existence of such atheist fools is presented by simply stating it then my proof of the non-existence of Christian fools cannot be refuted either.

      I DO welcome debate. However insults are not proper debating tools. For example, insulting another's illegitimate spelling of legitimate doesn't validate or invalidate one's arguments.

      I can only speak for myself. I don't seek to take away your rights.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • michigan

      @flippy1124 thats easy go read the first book of the bible genesis. the first chapter to be exact.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Flippy1124

      @Michigin – Please tell me that's not your answer! LOL!

      June 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • HowsItGoin

      n222s,
      Show me an example of an atheist group taking away your freedom of religion or your freedom from religion.

      Now, on the other side, look up what the Texas board of education has been trying to do in Texas public schools for the past several years. And that is one of many examples.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "michigan – well said! i just keep asking a simple question to atheist as to what their belief is to how the world started and none of them have answered my simple question yet they knock us for being Christians and believing in Jesus. smh'

      but its not a simple question, we would need a scientific text book to provide you with the answers to all the questions you asked. you did not want a how the world was started, you wanted a how did those things come into being and collected etc etc, and that involves, physics, chemistry, biology etc etc.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • michigan

      @flippy1124 ok then since you know all the answers what is answer is to how the world started. My answer is that god created the world. its that simple he created everything from the small atoms to the universe. Please give me your answer and don't be like Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler and tell me to go read a science book.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • TR6

      @michigan:” thats easy go read the first book of the bible genesis. the first chapter to be exact.”

      Oh yea, that’s the book where god creates a pair of children, gives them a package of razor blades, tells them not to play with them, leaves them alone and then abandons them when they get cut

      June 22, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  15. Rob

    Cool, welcome to the group.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  16. TheToothFairy

    HA
    "Unequally Yoked: A geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend"
    This of course means her love of having a boyfriend brought her to Jesus. I've never read her blog but if she went from atheist to catholic she has effectively shut down her critical thinking in favor of getting laid on the regular.
    At least that's a better excuse than thinking there's any validity to the catholic church

    June 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • TC

      That's what atheists like to tell themselves is that those of faith don't use critical thinking – Catholic philosophers are way more intellectual than most atheists.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • sally

      It's like the girl who hates sports but picks her boyfriend's football team as her own and starts wearing jerseys and going to games, though she still hasn't got a clue what they're about.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  17. hallsofstone

    This is the silliest and most idiotic conversion story I've ever read. This has nothing to do with "seeing the light". This has everything to do with a desire to keep a boyfriend. I'd be willing to be that an argument took place and the closed minded Catholic boyfriend finally told her to convert or find a new boyfriend....then, like a gullable fool, she "renounces" her true beliefs to the world and dude ends up with a complacent, demure, docile woman to control like the bible tells him to. AND CNN GETS PAID TO PUBLISH THE STORY BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

    ...and now for something completely different.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  18. TC

    Great story. These are very inspirational to see someone respond to call that comes from outside ourselves. Catholicsm is very intellectual and it does not surprise me in the slightest that an atheist would choose Catholicism as science is greatly respected and used in determining unexplained phenomena.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • TheToothFairy

      I have to disagree, there certainly scholars who study it, but in the end it's a religion that's about anything BUT critical thinking. If they suggested people do that, the pews would be more empty than they already are.
      Critical thinking, intellectual curiosity is what freed people from the tyrants of the old catholic church (i.e. the world is flat, the sun is the center of the universe, gays are evil, condoms are evil).
      You have to admit, those are all things pushed by the catholic church at one time or currently that are completely wrong and not intellectual. They are hillbilly ignorance.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  19. GHale

    I smell publicity stunt. The morality argument is one of the weakest and most easily dispensed with. Absolute nonsense and no one who has given it a moment's thought, never mind after years of debating the ignorant.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • TC

      Let's get past the conspiracy theories and logical debate will never be the end point of proving either side.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  20. antony murigi

    good. paul of tarsus also was a persecutor of christians until he saw the light. congratulations on your new found faith. persevere.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • johno's doctor

      Paul was no better than the Pharisee's that he denounced.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • johno's doctor

      oops, meant that Jesus denounced

      June 22, 2012 at 4:49 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.