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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. Dan m

    Basically her bf's parents wouldnt condone their relationship until she relented and "converted". Catholics are the worst, and nobody who looks at the historical life of Christ can argue that. Catholism was made up of several piecemeal parts of the Roman populace to better control the plebs. Plain and simple. What a pathetic way to sell out. But as ugly as she is, it was probably either to convert and keep her boy, or be alone forever.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  2. Independent thinker

    Such a shame that a once independent thinker has had her mind changed by weak minded, yet persuasive follows. When has religion had anything to do with defining a moral compass? Simple mutual respect can guide ones moral compass.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  3. Maya

    Read her blog. She doesn't have much going for her in the brains department, so I'm not surprised she converted. Weak people need religion.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  4. dude

    To each their own.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  5. Harley

    "Top" atheist blogger? According to? Never heard of her.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Tr1Xen

      I haven't either, and I'm atheist. Still, more power to her. If religion makes her happy, then I'm glad she converted.

      June 23, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  6. Betsy

    Leah, may God bless you and keep you forever.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  7. Mark Taylor

    Bob – I gotta go to bed. I hope you have a good life if I don't chat with you again. I do suggest reading CS Lewis' Mere Christianity – It won't bite you I promise. Learn both sides of the debate. I read up on apologists and then works by guys like Brian Greene on String Theory and the Early Universe. Our existence is wonderful whatever you think its context. The four Gospels are most impressive and then the Book of James. Know both sides of your argument. It's an important argument. Take Care my friend.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  8. Ally Gorey

    Amen !

    June 22, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  9. Reality

    Only for the eyes of Leah:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

    prob•a•bly
    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    June 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  10. avaldemon

    She needs a CAT scan done, ASAP. Sounds like she had a stroke.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  11. opinionguru

    The LORD works in mysterious ways, HIS wonders to behold! Leah, may you experience all the blessings the LORD can bestow: HIS Son!
    Amen

    June 22, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Katie K

      Oh, please...

      June 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • avaldemon

      Another stroke sufferer!

      June 22, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • pastapharian

      lmfao

      June 23, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  12. Mr Chihuahua

    Baby should of converted to Clinique, that complexion is jacked lol!

    June 22, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Bet

      And her appearance is relevant how? No matter which side of the argument you're on, bashing her looks is lame.

      June 23, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • sillybonobo

      At least use proper grammar if you are going to insult someone.

      June 23, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  13. Mike D

    Who?

    June 22, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  14. jk

    A blogger. In other words, a narcissist, not a theologian or philosopher. Who cares.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • pastapharian

      eactly.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  15. Athiest Bob

    she's gonna miss not having a moral compass....

    June 22, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  16. 1word

    lol God still working for the Good of his Kingdom. ANOTHER ATHEIST CONVERTED! LOL

    June 22, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • John

      Ironically, she is BI so I guess she wont be welcome in his kingdom for too long. I guess the joke is on you guys

      June 22, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Chirag

      she should have become a moron... I mean mormon.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • 1word

      She's BI, but when she fully give her life to Christ, he will heal her from that sickness. lol

      June 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      She also supports the legalization of gay marriage. And she appears, from her blog, to be quite comfortable with identifying as bis3xual and doesn't see it as "sick".

      June 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • 1word

      Tom it is a sickness, it's all in the person mind. If I told you a million times that you were an idot, eventually you would start believing it. A lot of women are tortured in the s ex trafficking because they have been told they aren't worth anything, eventually they started believing it and it caused them to depend on their pimps.

      June 23, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • pastapharian

      1word: that's possibly some of the most ridiculous tripe I've ever read. I still think you're probably an atheist just trolling these boards. The thought that you really believe this stuff is too scary.

      June 23, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • 1word

      pastapharian

      You believe wrong, I'm a child of God. I believe hom ose xuality is a sickness, that only GOD can cure. Who can make something straight that God made Crooked? You must believe in the Power of God to be SAVED. I pray you guys come to the light soon.

      June 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  17. Rob

    Well, only thing you can do is respect her decision. As an atheist I have been converting to santa clausism, because I believe in the spirit of giving, and santa claus obvious has a good moral foundation of giving back to society. So I have began praying to santa claus lately.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Why would you pray to your Dad Rob?

      June 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  18. Ann

    I'll try to keep this short... We all have inherent moral values. People created religion. People imposed their own morals onto religion, not the other way around.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • 1word

      Ann, God created religion. If you picked up the Bible with the intention on getting to know God better, it will change your outlook on Religion. If I created a world I would want the intelligent beings to know their creator. Only a fool would believe people evolved from fish, yes I heard this before.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • becky j

      Who created you?

      June 22, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • 1word

      God created my ancestors, to allow my parents to bring me into existence.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • John

      The Bible is indeed man-made. I grew up in a Catholic household. Catholic schooling thru high school. Fortunately I paid enough attention in school to know it was all BS long before I graduated. I never once in my life felt the need to be nice because some book told me to do so.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • pastapharian

      Ann: well said.1word – if our "creator" wanted wise men to know of him, he'd sit his omnipotent a s s down in my office right now and tell me he exists. stop being delusional.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Blast Hardcheese

      1word

      That's not the point Ann is making. The point is that when it was no longer socially acceptable to stone children for mouthing off, the Bible changed and we got a "New Testament". When the Bible was used to justify slavery and then it was outlawed, people said "Oh, well the Bible just got misinterpreted. It's actually against slavery!"

      Convenient, don't you think? Either
      A. God doesn't have the foresight to anticipate the abolition of slavery and murdering of children
      or
      B. The Bible was written by bronze age nomads who only knew the morality of their times

      If it came from and all-knowing God, it wouldn't need correction.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • pastapharian

      Blast: honestly, we're using reason and rational thought to convince someone to abandon their ridiculously irrational beliefs. Sadly, it's a waste of time.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • 1word

      lol, a smart person would Fear God. The Bible was written by men lead by the Spirit of God. I would love to sit you guys down and break down the Word to you guys to bring you closer to God.

      June 23, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That would be a real hoot, considering your ability to communicate.

      June 23, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Over It

      @1word: "...men lead by the Spirit of God."

      What's with you people and your grayish metal fetish? Are you related to that @SolderofConscience guy?... or are you just Plumbum loco?

      June 23, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Bdub

      @ 1Word: That is not a strong argument you provide. The Bible is no more reliable a source than is Moby Dick. If you did create the world and wanted them to know their creator, would you do so by sitting idlely by while children around the world starve to death? Let me ask you, if your God is so loving, why is it also conditional?

      Your additional poke about evolution, is just silly. I do not have the time to educate you on how evolution and natural selection has shaped our planet. Use google, and learn about our wonderful earth.

      June 23, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  19. Antonio

    nice. the more you study that "list", the more you get confused and angry. atheism need not be preached and we do not try to convert people. people just get smart. this girl didn't convert. she saw the business opportunity....lol

    June 22, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  20. Ted Dabbs

    SO? Sometimes a person who is perfectly sane one day, ends up in the psyche ward the next day. Or worse,they snap and do something horrible.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • 1word

      You don't see sane Christians eating people flesh. Have you been watching the news lately? These are lost souls being lead by the Devil, I rather follow a Loving God than a flunky like the Devil.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • pastapharian

      1word: do you seriously believe that??? or are you some sort of bored troll?

      June 22, 2012 at 11:59 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.