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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. heywatchthis

    omg she took a step down in intelligence what are we ever to do

    July 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  2. moe smith

    see what happens when you drink the kool-aid!

    July 1, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  3. physicistdave

    I've chatted with Leah on her blog "Unequally Yoked." It was always clear that Leah was not really an atheist: for example, she insisted on the idea that morality came from some Higher Place than simply the needs of human beings. The only change is that she has finally come out of the closet and admitted that she was always really talking about God.

    I think the Christians may regret their newest convert in the end - not exactly an open and forthright person.

    Of course, if she dumps her Christian boyfriend, she may switch again!

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

    July 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      She won't be the first Christian to admit being a liar. Only atheists refuse to acknowledge their personal sin.

      July 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  4. mizzurah05

    Greetings everyone I too was once an atheist but just today after reading this story I decided that I was also lacking an answer about morals and needed to reach back to the living truth as well. Like her I have decided to go with a god with its home base on the Italian peninsula (although clearly it did nothing for Italy today) Instead of Catholicism I am gonna go with an original G Zeus. Catholicism is so recent. Humans must have had morality before the pope so obviously I am correct and she is not.

    July 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  5. Sara Mcgrouber

    This is so sad, this person is just trying to get attention or shes suffering some type of mid or young life crisis. Cant you see how much she is enjoying being advertised and being on the news? All religion is failure in evolution in man, the only benefit religion gave was the ability to control and put fear in a large group of people and make the leadership more richer.

    July 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  6. Zoe

    I call bogus. This girl must have been Christian the whole time. Otherwise she wouldn't be talking about morality as somehow lacking from her atheist life and stood to get a lot of attention for this while discrediting a community. Morality isn't exclusive to religion, contrary to popular belief. There are many "religious" people who commit horrible acts of violence and immorality, and there are atheists who donate to charity, neither one is incapable of sin or is a better person because of their religious beliefs, it's actions and behavior that dictate your personal value and integrity.

    July 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  7. robert

    Well, we are all God's children after all. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen!

    July 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      We are all Mother Nature's children–evolved through the millenia to what we are now.

      July 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • robert

      There is no such thing as Mother Nature, but the good news is that there is a God, who created us in his image and loves us. In fact, he loves us so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us and raise us to new life in him. God bless.

      "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

      July 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Etalan

      I find this funny how one person can think how one can believe that a real god exist but don't know that Mother nature is another word for environment, not control by people.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  8. Jack

    Hello everyone. You are all cordially invited to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    July 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Jack Ett, you are a one-trick pony. If you have something to say, say it. Don't spam us.

      July 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Also, tired of the spam. Hit Abuse.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  9. Shelby.....

    The only hope for man kind the faith in Jesus Christ and him crucified on the cross...One way or the other your going to believe it either by faith or by judge and the it will be to late......only a fool says there is no God. Take a look around it does not take a mental heavy weight.

    July 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • jwt

      So what you are saying is that your version of god says believe in me or else. Sounds like you think god is a shoolyard bully. At any rate your god is unworthy of worship.

      July 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Shambles, once again the threat of hell. Has it not occured to you that there are many of us who do not fear hell? It doesn't exist first and foremost. But, for the sake of argument, let's say there is a heaven and a hell. I would want to be in hell rather than spend eternity with folks like you in heaven. Your mean, vindictive god doesn't exactly entice us to join in either.

      July 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  10. Chuck

    I am happy for Leah Libresco or anyone who feels like they have "found their path".
    The reason this is "news" is that Ms. Libresco was an avowed atheist. That doesn't mean that "atheism" has taken a hit of any kind...just means that someone has found a "path" they feel most comfortable with. If Leah had a void of some kind in her life that she has filled with faith...good for her!

    While this might not be the "right" path for me or many others, the thing I am most interested in is human happiness. If she has found "hers"...great. I wish the same fulfillment on any human seeking it.

    July 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  11. Spark

    Oh those humans, they've just got to have their security blankets. Another reason to look forward to Christmas! You go gurrrrrl.

    July 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  12. Monk

    I've been atheist for quite some time and I've never heard of this woman until CNN made a story of her.

    July 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  13. mike

    she's a fool

    July 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • norm

      She's a catholic. That's redundant!

      July 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  14. gary

    it's a joke ... she is still atheist. Atheism is myth understood. God = pretend.

    July 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  15. Capnfunk

    Prominent atheist? Top atheist? Never heard of her before this CNN story.

    July 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  16. David Kaltenbach

    Of all things, Catholicism! Hopefully and prayerfully she develops a relationship with Jesus.

    July 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      If she learns the catachism, attends the mass and partakes of the sacraments, there can be no doubt.

      July 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  17. Steve

    Only because her boyfriend said so...

    July 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  18. what?

    "Libresco is just switching the side she thinks the facts are on"
    only someone of no mind would say that, show me ONE fact to make the entire bible true and i'll convert as well.

    July 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • rick

      Israel

      July 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Randy

      I humbly offer that Jesus' resurrection makes a compelling fact. In addition to the eye witness testimonies in the gospel, more than 500 people witnessed him as living after his death and burial (I Cor 15:3-8). There seems little motivation to lie, as nearly all the apostles lived persecuted paupers lives and eventually died for their belief. Jesus reasoned with the skeptics of his day in the book of John, asking them to consider men's testimony, the Father's testimony, what scriptures written hundreds of years earlier said about him and were fulfilled in him, and the very miracles he was doing in the presence of his skeptics. I hope some of this sparks a little curiosity, and if it does, I humbly invite you to read the short 30-page gospel of John to judge for yourself. It's been the pivotal decision of my life. Have a happy 4th.

      July 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  19. pork&beans

    Either convert, or you lose me~Sincerely, the boyfriend.

    July 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  20. Pelegrim

    How do you go from being a lucid individual who bases their belief system on logic to a mere child, believing in the most absurd fairy tales? Amazing!

    July 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Typically it occurs whenever an individual realizes that they, themselves, are not the supreme being and finds themselves confronted with the Lamb of God. It requires some humility and honesty.

      July 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Pelegrim

      You said, "How do you go from being a lucid individual who bases their belief system on logic to a mere child, believing in the most absurd fairy tales?"
      What makes you think she was ever a "lucid individual who bases their belief system on logic"?

      July 2, 2012 at 12:27 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.