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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.”

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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.”

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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. scranton

    Welcome home Leah.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  2. bill

    i applaud her. God bless her.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  3. A Møøse once bit my sister ... No realli! She was Karving her initials on the møøse

    I feel sorry for her. She is in love with a guy and wants to marry him, but he is Catholic and it has undoubtedly been made clear that he is only going to marry Catholic (I bet there is a Caqtholic mother pressuring this one as well), and that her atheism just won't do. Emotions like love run strong, but fresh out of college she has her pride and just cannot change, especially as she has a little blog, so she has to invent this silly pseudointellectual Moral Law facade so that her conversion sounds intelligent. To herself, because the facade is to fool herself that her motives were lofty and intellectual, when it was really just her abandoning her beliefs to become subservient to a man.

    It's just sad, not that she is no longer an atheist – don't really care – but that she has to go through this self-deception and abandonment of values just to marry.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Frank

      To us Christians it is our job to spread the word of God. Thats the job that God have given us. It says on the bible. For us Christians we follow that.

      If you are not a Christian you don't have to believe in that. But since he is Christian, he believes in it and he taught her the word of God and she believed it. It has nothing to do with her having to be a catholic for marriage.

      You also said theres a catholic mother probably pressuring this... You don't know that, you are just assuming that. Thats horrible to judge a book before reading it. You can say whatever you want, but you cannot say something like that, that you do NOT know. and its impossible for you to know. Speak the facts.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Alpa Chino

      He 'taught' her....with his penis.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Kerlos R

      I dare to start that discussion and we will see!!!!!

      June 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  4. michigan

    @Slurms McKenzie your a sick person! posting a child molesting site acting like its a christian site

    June 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • sam

      Did you actually follow a link someone posted here? omg.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • sam

      You did, didn't you. Better clear your cache. LOL

      June 22, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • michigan

      yep i did someone was posing as a Christian and i fell for it. very sick and disgusting. Its cool though because that person was reported to the authorities and they will be arrested. One less child molester off the streets because they will be in prison for some years. plus another sick child molesting site is getting shut down. God Bless Amen!

      June 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  5. Anon

    Never go full retard.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Simple Jack

      IT MAKES MY EYES RAIN

      June 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  6. dcmortimer

    She wouldn't be the first Atheist to convert , St Augustine and St Francis of Assisi were prominent Atheist to convert .

    June 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Anon

      A couple of brainless frauds is more like it.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Ting

      Not to mention the last minute conversions of death row inmates. Heaven is going to be a hoot!

      June 22, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Chad

      One of the best ways to get an atheist to convert, is to get them to do some real study in an attempt to "debunk" Christianity..

      Some of the atheists that were converted while trying to do so:
      Albert Henry Ross (pseudonym Frank Morison): author of "Who moved the stone"
      C.S. Lewis
      Josh McDowell

      In my experience, the VAST majority of atheists havent a clue about what the bible says, or the historical reliability of it.
      They just havent done any investigation..

      June 22, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Anon

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsaRQDxmLqY&w=640&h=390]

      June 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Rick James

      Chad, don't be silly. Most atheists were part of some religion once, so to say that we don't know it is absurd. Another thing is that atheists on average know more about religions than believers do. Most of religion today is people at the top who interpret and a bunch of followers on the bottom. How does that stimulate knowledge is a mystery to me.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

      Matthew 20:16

      Amen.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Bet

      @ Chad

      You're wrong about that. I spent more than 50 years as a religious person, studied the bible for most of that time, including ten years of private study in the original languages. I found so much contradiction and error that I couldn't believe anymore.

      Christians love to say that formerly religious atheists don't know the bible, or never were really believers, but that's just not true. It's very difficult to let go of something that you've believed with all your heart for your entire life. To trivialize it the way you do is pretty offensive, but I don't really expect anything better from you.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  7. The Truth

    There's no such thing as a true (a)theist. No matter how strong their conviction, ultimately every one I've talked to has this nagging doubt in the back of their mind. There is no proving the (non)existance of God and anyone who thinks differently is deluding themselves. At least agnostics are honest with themselves.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Rick James

      You treat agnostic and atheist are mutually exclusive terms, while the term agnostic can be used to describe theist as well. Second, I know some gnostic atheists, although those are few and far in between. Most atheists don't conclude that there is no God, they are just extremely doubtful that a higher power exist because there is no proof for one. Third, you can't prove a negative at all. Atheists don't claim anything, they just reject yours.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Patty

      I don't have a doubt in my mind about the non existance of any god. I'm sure the atheists posting on this site have no nagging doubt either. If they had a nagging doubt then they're agnostics and not atheists. Just like this blogger. She was never an atheists, but an agnostic. Her actions speak to that louder then any of her words as a so called "atheist".

      June 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • The Truth

      Keep telling yourself that. It's cute, really...

      June 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • JWT

      Nope no nagging doubts.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • LittleHero

      I have no doubts at all about my eventual non-existence, and if you really thought about what eternity really means – you may welcome it as well.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • The Truth

      So cute...

      June 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Rick James

      Nice snide remarks, Truth...

      June 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Bet

      Wrong. I sleep just fine at night.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      The Truth wouldn't know truth if it came up and bit him in the face while waving a turkey in front of his face. Throwing out idiotic statments then probably running away to troll another thread, probably in some self-righteous attempt to feel all pious and superior.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  8. Reality

    (Only for the eyes of Leah)

    AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

    "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family (as does BO and his family) had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Kerlos R

      Really you people are wasting time on medieval arguments. I dare you guys to read the Bible without any prior misconceptions in your most secluded area and then judge.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • sam

      Hey now, let's keep our most secluded areas to ourselves.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  9. max3333444555

    as an atheist i say, if she needs a religion for comfort, fine with me. none of my business.

    as for her comments about needing religion for a moral compass... ive always wondered about people who couldnt find a moral compass without religion. ive never had an issue knowing right from wrong. i havent always done the right thing but my moral compass has never had a problem.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Frank

      If she is wrong, then nothing will happen and things will continue on as if she was an atheist.. If she is right, she will succeed with the beliefs and the atheist will not... I rather choose a 50% chance then a 0%. even though i believe 100% in God.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • coloradom

      So how do you know what's right and what's wrong? What if what is right for you is wrong for me? Is morality just what each person thinks is right vs. wrong?

      June 22, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Rick James

      Frank, what you are using is Pascal's Wager. It can easily be debunked if you turn it on its head. If God rewarded atheists for using their brains that he gave them and punished believe for not doing so, would that God be worth worshiping? Probably not. But most Christians can't think past what they have been taught.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Dan C.

      Frank, I prefer this one. Possibility 1: If god is a just god, then he/she/it will see that I've lived a good life, and that I was a compassionate person with a love for fellow man, and he/she/it will see reward me for it. Possibility 2: If god is an unjust god, and demands the jealous worship and unnecessary hatred that much of the popular religious books teach, then I absolutely choose NOT to take part in that, as any normal, halfway intelligent person would rebel against such a tyrant. Possibility 3: And if god doesn't exist, then I still lived a good, fulfilling life, and didn't waste my time with the ridiculous hate and bigotry that plagues today's religions.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Frank

      Actually to tell you the truth, God will judge someone by their hearts. If theres an atheist person that lived life as an honest person, i strongly believe God would save. And if there was a religious person that lived an unethical life, as a dishonest person, God would probably not save that christian. Also if there was someone who lived a dishonest life but was never taught the word of God or even heard the word God and has no knowledge in anything in Christianity, I believe God would save that person as well. So we cannot speak for anyone. Everyone is different in their hearts. It does say in the bible that we will be surprised by who we see in heaven. Thats my belief.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Dan C.

      If there is a god, then I hope he is the one you believe in, not the one most of today's christians claim and use as a scape goat for ignorance and hateful judgement. You seem like a good person, and I'm glad you attempt to look past those fallacies that hinder many religious people, and instead judge people on their heart and character, not just whether they go to a building and sing for an hour every Sunday. Kudos to you!

      June 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Dan C., you phony. It's you non-believers that are ignorant and hateful. It's you non-believers that invaded the churches as wolves in sheep's clothing and now you spew these lies about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior and all Christians that follow His truth.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • LittleHero

      Frank,

      Kudos as well – if I were to meet you in the real world and we got to know one another, I would probably confide that I was an atheist, just to prompt some lively conversation. However, most religious people (of all stripes) have a bigotry towards professed atheists. I have some very religious friends with whom I always skate around religious topics. If I were to come out to them as an atheist, the normal and positive connection I have with them would be severed in most cases, and I am unwilling to risk it with those that I think I could help.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • LittleHero

      HeavenSent,

      Actually one of the few places that I am comfortable telling people that I am an atheist, is IN MY CHURCH! I attend a Universalist Unitarian church and they actually welcome atheists. I respect everyone at this church, and they respect me – even if we disagree on religious ideas, because we are united in our support of social justice and actually helping people. On top of this they do not brainwash children, and provide truly comprehensive religious EDUCATION for children and young adults.

      June 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Frank

      LittleHero,
      My best friend is an atheist. However he believes in karma. He says "good things are always happening to him because he lives life as an honest person". He tells me that "if you do everything right, you don't put yourself in a place for bad things to happen. Unless its an accident. Good things happen to good people"

      And I tell him that "the only difference between you and me is that i don't call it karma, i call it God. Your karma is my God".

      We have been friends for 13 years and i've never met someone so sincere and honest as him.

      That is why i believe, its all about the heart.

      June 22, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  10. michigan

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

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

    June 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Slurms McKenzie

      Good site. Prolapsed.net also shows the correlation between the OT and new age medicine.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • michigan

      @Slurms McKenzie thanks for the site.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • sam

      Oh boy.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Bet

      LMAO!

      June 22, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  11. Frank

    God Bless her.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  12. Harris

    Poor thing. It must reflect a desperation on her part. And if she relying on 'facts' and think that facts have lead her to this decision, we have a flaw in the machinery.
    I wonder if, as some have suggested, this was part of a larger, longed planned, marketing plan. If so, bravo!
    Assuming she just a poor lost soul grasping for answers and solace, hopefully religion gives her some peace. Bless you child.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Kerlos R

      Harris christianity asks u to use your brains for believing but adds your soul and heart to the mix. intelligent arguments could be heared from both parties but the other two ingredients do really make the difference.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      She, like so many at the end of days ...

      So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

      Matthew 20:16

      Amen.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  13. car

    of course like your web-site but you have to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very bothersome to inform the truth on the other hand I'll definitely come back again.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Huh?

      At least one of your posts is rife with grammatical errors.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  14. Alpa Chino

    Great. Now catholicism is sexually transmitted.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  15. Matthew

    If Hitchens was still alive I could only imagine what he'd say to this lol.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      He's with Darwin sitting on the wrong side of the divide.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  16. Cassarit

    Good girl!

    June 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Al

      Now sit. Roll over.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Al, isn't that what your camp does? Wolf, wolf.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  17. bubbles

    Have any of you heard about Tim Tebow and his boyfriend Kirk Cameron? I hear they baptise each other every night using only their seminal fluids.

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

      I really wish God will bless you.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Aaron

      Bubbles, I'm a Christian and I find that comment HILARIOUS!

      June 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Like clock work, the phallic worshipers showing their true nature.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  18. bubbles

    I think non religious people should be arrested and put on trial. Praise Jesus!

    June 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Matthew

      I hope you are trolling.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • bubbles

      lol its nice to know i have people who admire me

      June 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • max3333444555

      it happens all over the world.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Andy23

      You smell like fart bubbles in a bathtub.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Not to worry, Jesus Christ judges all ... and non-believers will be NO MORE. Poof ... blotted out and no one remembers the ilks of them.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      There goes HeavenSent reveling in thought of eternal torture for those who don't agree with her. Have you gotten your sociopathic and psychotic tendencies looked at yet?

      June 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  19. Truth

    Religious people should not be allowed in airports. Why don't they just pray to get to where they want to go? It's not like prayer is fake. It's real.

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

      I really wish that God bless you. You really need it.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • bubbles

      heart of the hateful wont see his own ignorance.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Delly

      Its prayer, not magic my friend. And religion i s not necessarily pro God, God & religion often disagree. look at Jesus.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • heywaitaminit

      I'm getting the impression that when Frank says he wants "God to bless you", he really means "smite".

      June 22, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah...the phrasing suggests that Frank would like god to mess people up.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Notice how all the non-believers take on handles that have Jesus Christ's TRUTH in it. Too funny, since they have no eyes to see nor ears to hear His truth.

      June 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Frank

      It's funny how interpreting can go to so many levels. I simply said " I wish that God will bless you". And i ended up getting two different definitions of what i said, which is also different from mine. However not only biblically, but in the dictionary, my definition is the only right one, and its that I'm just wishing for God to bless her.

      Bless = absolve, anoint, baptize, beatify, canonize, commend, confirm, consecrate, cross, dedicate, enshrine, eulogize, exalt, extol, give thanks to, glorify, hallow, honor, invoke benefits, invoke happiness, laud, magnify, make holy, offer, offer benediction, ordain, panegyrize, praise, pray for, pronounce holy, sacrifice, sign, sprinkle, thank

      I hope you all know what God Bless means now. Take care!

      June 22, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  20. Brad

    at the heart of her decision were questions of morality and how one finds a moral compass.

    This woman is going to the Catholic church for a compass of morality? Next she will want to marry Jerry Sandusky.

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

      Revelation 3:9

      Amen.

      June 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
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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.