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. Thomas

    She was never a real atheist, only a closeted-theist looking to make a buck with intellectucal dishonesty.
    Converting to a religion that hides child rapists and condones torture, is hardly a moral choice.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  2. bubbles

    Science created the atomic bomb and later nuclear weapons.

    Atheists deny their own science!

    June 22, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Truth

      Next time you or a loved one gets sick don't go to a doctor, just pray. See what happens. The technology and reason/logic used to give us the internet is spawned by scientific process, you philistine.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Slurms McKenzie

      That's awesome. Those things end wars. And prevent some.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • bubbles

      lol i wasnt even talking about that.Atheists claim religion is harmful when science has done the most damage.

      learn to read.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • zacharye

      Bubbles just volunteered himself to give up products of science. So no:
      Cars
      Medicine
      Electrical appliences
      Planes
      Tv
      Fox news
      Grocery stores

      And oh yea, you wouldnt even be here in the first place, look up the haber process

      June 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  3. Jerry Sandusky

    I should have been a priest.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  4. AgnosticAGame

    Lame. So you have to join a "morality" club to control yourself? Why don't you just make up a morality and put it into a book and then follow that? Why not become Jewish, the Sun God Ra, or a polytheist? Getting closer to the source... psh...

    June 22, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • jason

      or worship self like the rest of people – including atheists?

      June 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  5. HeavenSent

    Their are pictures of her and the catholic boyfriend at prolapsed.net. Check them out, what a couple of tools.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  6. Molestation is not healthy for children and other living things

    Science = cures for disease, technology, better understanding of our world, better quality of life

    Religion = 9/11, handling poisonous snakes, telepathy with 2000 year old zombies(prayer), witchcraft, suicide bombings, hatred, ignorance, dark ages, the trial and death of Socrates, Spanish Inquisition, molestation, southern people, general idiocy. Thanks religious people!!!

    June 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Slurms McKenzie

      For science you forgot drugs and weapons. The two best.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • bubbles

      atheism=the easy way out

      June 22, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Michelle

      Wait... you put southern people in a category of bad things which includes 9/11? What is your rationale for that, please?

      June 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Rick James

      Slurms, scientists never said that science is not a double-edged sword. It, in my opinion, must be bounded by some ethical standard. Religion is not that standard.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Thomas

      Yeah bubbles, its easier to be moral on your own than to have your morality dictated to you.
      Thinking isn't your strong suit... stick to your zombie god.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • bubbles

      do you even know what an actual zombie is?

      learn before you type.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  7. suziecoyote

    Its a boyfriend thing.....

    June 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  8. Bingot

    Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your site in internet explorer, would test this? IE nonetheless is the market leader and a large part of folks will miss your great writing due to this problem.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  9. zacharye

    If you want morals, religion is one of the worst places to get it from. You would be better off watching mr. Rogers neighborhood. I think he would argue against stoning people to death for working on sundays.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Ken Stuczynski

      Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian minister. Just sayin' ...

      June 22, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Christian

      The bible only talks about stoning people to death who worked on Saturdays, the sabbath (not Sundays) because the Jews were in a theocracy (government controlled by God himself) whereas we are controlled by earthly governments so we only lose our souls should we disobey God (and not repent).

      June 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • zacharye

      I stand corrected 🙂

      June 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  10. Journeyman

    Atheists don't need to jump into Catholicism too quickly...spend some time as a Protestant before one moves into the professional ranks.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      LOL now that is funny thanks!

      June 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Christian

      In the eyes of God, I don't think Catholics are the "professionals" nor are most protestants. There are some from every church who are following God properly but Catholics are largely apostate. They pray to/worship Mary and their thousands of saints (what happened to thou shalt have no other God before Me?) the pope assumes he has the very authority of God (although he probably hasn't even experienced Him). I could go on and on but my point is your comment has no basis in reality.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Michelle

      The problem with that is that if you're looking for the whole truth, you find a lot of inconsistencies and logical fallacies in protestantism, so you have to keep looking until you find the truth that makes sense. That's in Catholicism.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  11. kimba999

    I'm not surprised at all...her boyfriend is Catholic and she's obviously too weak minded to think for herself. Just watch what happens if she and her boyfriend break up – I'll bet dollars to donuts she's an atheist again inside of a week.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • zacharye

      Hahahaha. Ouch!

      June 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Krug Lamner

      Yeah, I've seen plenty of people "convert" to be with the one they love.

      It's a beautiful sign of devotion, but only lasts the same length as the relationship.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      My fiance converted although it was not a condition I placed on her. Later the relationship ended but she is still a faithful Catholic, as am I. God works in mysterious ways doesn't he?

      June 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • S.Stern

      My father converted to catholicism to marry my mother. he's not particularly religious and pretty liberal, so it does happen.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Michelle

      Read her blog. She actually broke up with the Catholic boyfriend some time ago. He has nothing to do with her conversion.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  12. Doubtful

    A true atheist, with even moderate powers of reason, would not convert because they decide they like the "moral compass" all of a sudden. First because we don't need organised religion and all it's hypocrisy, to show us what is moral and how to be moral. We know. Either she was planted as a Catholic for good PR, or she wasn't really an informed atheist in the first place.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • zacharye

      Maybe its just a phase. Llike when teens go through there goth stage in 8th grade.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  13. Rick James

    You know, as an atheist, if an atheist wants to choose religion, it's fine with me. At least she wasn't brainwashed. What I'm curious about are the facts that she found in Catholicism of all places. Catholicism, at its base, requires some faith (belief withOUT evidence). It's mostly make believe. They make it, you believe it.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • kimba999

      Rick, her boyfriend is Catholic. That says it all!

      June 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Rick James

      While I get that her boyfriend plays some factor into this, I have seen couples where both people believe or don't believe in different things. I would see this as more of an inherent want to believe in something on her part.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • michigan

      hahah what atheist believe is make believe then too. lmao theres no concrete evidence to support atheist claims. what created the atoms in the first place to crash together to create th big bang theory? what even created the open space in the universe to be black and not white? what created the different colors? how was water created from atoms crashing together? why have we only found life on earth then? wouldn't there be life on other planets then too? How did atoms crashing together create all the different animals and humans? from atoms crashing together how did we get male and females to reproduce life? how did the atoms create the different skin colors? why don't horses have stripes like zebras? i could go on forever? lmao

      June 22, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Molestation is not healthy for children and other living things

      Michigan-Are you serious? Wow!

      June 22, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • John

      Michigan, alot of those questions are already answered. If only you would pick up a book and educate yourself you wouldnt have to ask these things. There is still much for us to discover and I think that propels us as a species to continue uncovering new truths every day. Of course this is the exact opposite of religion which wants us to believe if we dont have an answer today it must be magic

      June 22, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Rick James

      First of all, atheists don't claim anything. We just reject yours.

      Second,Michigan, you just used the "God of the Gaps" argument multiple times in your post. Science never claims to have the answers to everything. Religion does that. In fact, there is only a little that we really know about the universe. That is what makes science exciting, because there is always more to know. That is why I'm a chemistry major in college, because science never stops trying to know.

      And why don't horses have stripes like zebras. The answer is found in evolution (they diverged from a common ancestor and they adapted to different environments. As for most of your questions about the universe: Either you should look that up or ask a physicist. If a physicist doesn't know, don't expect them to make something up.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • michigan

      @Molestation is not healthy for children and other living things. when did i ever say child molesting is ok? its wrong no matter who does it. but i love how everyone just tells me to pick up a book and the book will give me all my answers. so my question then is what created the atoms that crashed into each other to create the big bang theory? please just answer that question? by how you people are telling me to educate myself i could say the same thing about the bible. give me a link to a website as to what created the atoms that cauaed the big bang theory. give a link as to how humans and animals were created from the big bang theory. if you dont know have the link for me to go look up then stop telling me to go look in a book. lmao ive already google it and i get several different theories.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • michigan

      http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/is_christianity_true.html

      heres a link to show that theres science facts that support the bible.

      enjoy the read hahah to all atheist out there please provide the links to all the science facts that support your claims.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  14. chris

    "Welcome to the Catholic church Leah...and, oh by the way, can you spare some extra dimes? Just today in Philadelphia we had another priest/monsignor indicted for molesting little children and/or covering it up, and we need to share the "sacrifice", I mean we need to share the burden of the legal bills and financial settlements to keep it as quiet as possible." You're a phony, and everything your church represents is a fraud. You can't be a little bit pregnant, and you can't be a little against raping children and covering it up.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Christopher B

      Well stated! +1

      June 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • michigan

      @ chris your right there are a lot of evil people in the church right now just like there is a bunch of radical muslims running around killing people. Screw what man says if you go by the bible it never says to cover up bad things like molesting kids. the church has a lot of evil people in it claiming to be holy when all there doing is tryin to us the church to cover up and get away with molesting children. Its all in the bible. it talks about evil people corrupting the church and how to spot frauds.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  15. Moby Schtick

    The morality issue can be a tough one for atheists, but the christians or catholicism really settling the issues satisfactorily. Puzzling and disappointing.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Krug Lamner

      Morality isn't tough for atheists. We don't need a book telling us that we should feed people in need, or that we should be kind to others, or that we shouldn't kill people.

      It's Christians that freak me out. Anyone who needs an instruction book to tell them that murder is wrong is a psycho who is only being held back by the threat of hell.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • kimba999

      I agree with Krug. Morality is easy. Theists like to say there is no source of morality without god and we atheists can just pick or choose what we think is right. In reality, morals and cultural ethics have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, being necessary to survive as a social creature. Theists on the other hand can pick or choose their morality by choosing which religion they decide to follow.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So it was wrong to kill OBL?

      June 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  16. Kate

    Betrayer.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  17. LiarsForJesus

    She has convinced herself that lying to herself for Jesus is a virtue. Why should I believe anything she says in favor of Christianity? In addition, she is not a prominent atheist blogger. PZ Myers, Martin S. Pribble, John Loftus, and Jerry Coyne are examples.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Steve

      IMO, she never was an atheist at all. She believed (and still do of course) in things that no atheist that I know believe in. She always was some kind of believer.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  18. Molestation is not healthy for children and other living things

    Religion = 9/11

    Proven

    June 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  19. citizenmn

    If she was going to become a Christian, she should have chosen a better interpretation of Christianity. Catholicism is a distortion of Christianity.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      If she's looking for morals, why not try Buddhism. You can be an atheist and a Buddhist at the same time!

      June 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  20. Molestation is not healthy for children and other living things

    Jesus was a long haired gay
    Proven

    June 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Krug Lamner

      Jesus had two grandfathers, so at least he had gays in his family.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • michigan

      yeah if jesus is gay then atheist must like molesting animals hahah what a bunch of creeps. just because i have a different view on life u think u have the right to mock my religion on the internet. Im not mocking you for your beliefs so why mock mine? You have nothing better to do and instead of having a respectable debate you talk trash cause you have nothing educated to say. smh

      June 22, 2012 at 5:55 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.