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. glades2

    Luke 15:10

    June 26, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Skep Rep

      Since your god does not exist, your bible is worthless.

      June 26, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • sam stone

      "I said 'You know, they refused Jesus, too' he said 'You're not him'" – Zimmy 5:6

      June 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Sue

      Skep Rep
      Yup, it's like having the tech manual to the USS Enterprise. It's fun to read for the fantasy of it, but sort of a waste of time. 🙂

      June 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Here ya go:


      June 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  2. Alicia

    Welcome to a great faith AND intellectual tradition –for example, the Jesuits.

    June 26, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • Sue

      Didn't Hitler model the SS on the Jesuits?

      June 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  3. I, J

    Why is it when millions of Christians de-convert to atheism they have to go into hiding, but when one atheist converts to Christianity it's national news?

    June 26, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • JWT

      Too many christians misguidedly think that their way is the only way.

      June 26, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • JWT

      Too many christians misguidedly think that their way is the only way – or else. Discrimination comes too easily to them.

      And the increase in the numbers of atheists is somewhat from people no longer feeling as if they need to hide their truth or else lose their jobs, place in the community and family.

      June 26, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Glad I'll Be Left Behind

      Good question. The only thing i can think of is how someone is suddenly brainwashed into the fairy tales at such a 'grown up' age; that is kind of interesting.

      June 26, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Steve

      Just another sign that we are indeed nearing the end.

      June 26, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • tallulah13

      The end of what?

      June 26, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • sam stone

      Steve: Avoid the rush. Do you have tall buildings where you live?

      June 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Steve

      sam stone muses, "Steve: Avoid the rush. Do you have tall buildings where you live?"

      Don't you know? You seem to know everything else LOL!

      June 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Steve

      sam stone(d) pontificates, "Steve: Avoid the rush. Do you have tall buildings where you live?"

      Lowely and stupid Steve replies, "You Christians better stop saying that us atheists are angry and hateful now. I'm telling you for the last time, "we are not angry or hateful! Why can't you morons get it?"

      June 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  4. Dave H

    When asked how she'll deal with atheists now she dodges the question. Read the reactions to this article (and review the history of athiests who have converted). Marginalize her, declare her irrelevant and crazy, but don't by any means deal with issues she raises. Classic ad hominem. If you can't attack the argument attack the person.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:22 am |
  5. the truth

    She should die. How dare she convert to a bunch of indoctrinated retarded religious nutjobs. Instead of being rational, logical, and reasonable; she converted to stupidity.

    i guess she didn’t like thinking for herself anymore. She should go back home and become a housemaid, go pleasure her man, ignore science, and just die off. the world is a better place without her

    June 26, 2012 at 2:29 am |
    • MayOn2012

      You're the one should die!

      June 26, 2012 at 4:50 am |
    • Johnny

      May god forgive, you my brother.

      June 26, 2012 at 5:34 am |
    • Dos Ruedas

      Thats a little harsh. Let's just agree that she did it all for the nookie.

      June 26, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  6. nick

    I'm sorry, I gave this article a chance...but between the following I found this article to be completely laughable.

    1) CNN's label of her as a top atheist blogger...I'll not say much more then LOL.

    2) Listening to her incoherent babbling: seriously she needs to listen to herself...she sounds like she wants to be intelligent but it's just pretentious, annoying and dumb.

    3) Her lack of knowledge on both atheism and religion

    4) Her desire to be accepted by...news media outlets, her EX-boyfriend and friends

    June 26, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  7. Abril

    Sounds like someone wants to be down with her boyfriend, lol:D...

    June 26, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  8. joseph

    Scripture has declared 'the fool has said in his heart there is no God'. Whether you like it or not, you are part of a tapestry woven at the beginning of time. All that will be has been, and all the has been will be. A fool speaks of things he has no understanding of. He will scream at the top of his lungs assured that he is right, all the time speaking his own demise into existence.

    June 26, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Heinz Doofenschmirtz

      This scripture is every bit as true.

      "He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the Rectification of the Vuldronaii, the Traveler came as a large and moving Torb! Then, during the Third Reconciliation of the Last of the Meketrex Supplicants, they chose a new form for him, that of a giant Sloar! Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of a Sloar that day, I can tell you!" (Gozer 5:4-19)

      June 26, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • The Bird Is The Word

      @Heinz: I couldn't have said it better myself. Clear. Concise.

      June 26, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Cq

      Before science came around to give the actual explanations to things in nature anyone saying there were no gods wouldn't have had any alternative answers so, of course, they would have looked foolish. Today, however, one can easily be skeptical because there is nothing in science to suggest that any gods exist, or are needed to explain anything. This argument doesn't work anymore, then.

      June 26, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • tallulah13

      Thank you, Heinz. That particular bit of scripture has gotten me through many a difficult time.

      June 26, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • The Bird Is The Word

      @Tallulah: This is my first exposure to the Gospel Of Gozer. It reaches out to me. I am deeply touched. I can understand how it comforts you.

      @Heinz: Thank you again for the inspiring words. I shall do my utmost to obtain the full text.

      June 26, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • nick

      "Get up. My Lord, there will be a time to greive for Boromir, but it is not now. War is coming. The enemy is on your doorstep. As steward, you are charged with the defense of this city. Where are Gondor's armies? You still have friends. You are not alone in this fight. Send word to Theoden of Rohan. Light the Beacons. "

      I can quote fiction too

      June 26, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • Commenter

      "A fool speaks of things he has no understanding of. He will scream at the top of his lungs assured that he is right,"

      Now, YOU would NEVER do anything like that, joseph, would you?

      June 26, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • Nii

      The Lord of the Rings cud be used as scripture. Funny that atheist can't see! It is even more consistent than the bible is!

      June 26, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Thinker

      Actually The Silmarillion would make better scripture; LOTR is a specific story and doesn't deal with creation and the afterlife. It details the gods of Arda (the world) and the histories of Elves and Men and Dwarves. It even comes complete with a creation story, a devil, prophecy, and the afterlife! Hmm I ought to go start a new 'church'.

      June 26, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Mirosal

      "In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth." (Gen 1:1)... see I can quote fiction as well.

      June 26, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • sam stone

      joseph: sounds like many of the posters on these blogs

      June 26, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  9. tenaciousdeucer

    I stopped reading the article after it said she isn't sure about the Pope's stance on anything and everything, but she really thinks she likes the whole Catholic thing. One cannot really be Catholic without believing whatever the Pope says is true. That's what being Catholic is.

    June 25, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Leonard

      Seriously? Have you read the Catechism?

      June 26, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • JM

      My friend, it's probably not your fault, but you seem to have absolutely no idea about the Catholic Church. I know it's great to be ignorant and post random musings you picked up in movies or blogs, but sometimes it really pays to know what you are talking about before proving the world you have no knowledge about a certain topic.

      June 26, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • krt

      Actually, not everything a pope says is binding to Cattholics. There are different degrees of teachings in the Catholic church. Dogmas, for instance, summarized in the Nicene Creed, should be accepted by all Catholics.

      June 26, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Strike three yer out!

      June 26, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • motherearth

      To think that whatever the Pope says is true is the most laughable remark I ever heard. Gee what amazing things he could really accomplish. Guess the Pope has never had a wet dream, danced around the truth, (which is highly used by religion) or had a nasty little thought in the presence of a female...REALLY?

      June 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  10. Star Performer

    Spot my great ways on this blog!

    June 25, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Henri

      Yeah, yeah, we know, boring, you are trolling as bubbles and others. Yawn.


      June 26, 2012 at 12:41 am |
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    Hi there, just changed into aware of your blog thru Google, and located that it is really informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I'll appreciate in case you continue this in future. A lot of other people can be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

    June 25, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Thinker

      Are you a chat-bot?

      June 26, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  12. b4bigbang

    GodFreeNow: "@b4bigbang, For the record, they also spend more on waging war all over the planet and has been in this perpetuate state of war for over 50 years non-stop. The collateral damage, a.k.a., civilian death ratio since the mid 20th century was 10:1 according to the International Red Cross. That's 10 civilians killed for every combatant. This same ratio applies to the recent drone attacks in Pakistan. The US official response to civilian deaths by drone strike... If they're near bad guys, they must be bad guys. I know it makes you feel better to believe in only the good America does. But again, selectively picking statistics for your argument really only works with religion.
    Warning: The real world you may contain facts that are harmful to your illusions.

    Sorry i had to repost on the new page, the string was getting long.
    Actually, you shouldnt judge my world-view by a few posts of mine. I rant a lot about the wcikedness carried out by the US, that's why i call it 'New Rome'. It's a somewhat Fascistic modern version of ancient Rome.
    But i have enough intellectual reserve to look at a big, complex topic with more than merely one negative point opinion.
    Even ancient Rome did good things for the world – at least according to leading university professors.
    It was in college that i learned to judge things with intellectual reserve, looking at the problem like you'd examine a jewel, having more than one facet.

    June 25, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Smurfette

      I could ask the rhetorical question about what have the Romans ever done for us, but that little ditty was already played out earlier today

      June 25, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Do you believe *any* govts have done *any* good for any of the common people?
      If your answer is 'no', then you might be an anarchist.
      No insult intended – anarchism is a worthy study.

      June 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Smurfette

      Actually, I was referring to a scene from the Monty Python movie "Life of Brian"

      Have you seen Michael Moore's Capitalism – A Love Story? He draws the same analogy with the US to the decline of Rome

      June 25, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      No, but i saw Roger & Me and liked it a lot. Later i saw his film about the invasion of Iraq and was quite moved, as was the rest of the audience (one of the few films that got applause in the theatre).

      June 25, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Smurfette

      It's worth checking out – he does go overboard, but he makes good points.

      Good discussion, b4 – i appreciate it. But, this Smurfette has to smurf on off to bed.

      June 25, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      I agree. He makes really good true points, but he does go a bit overboard sometimes. Way cool movie-maker in the final analysis.

      June 25, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      PS: thanx for the heads-up on the new movie "Capitalism...."
      I'll definately ck it out!

      June 25, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  13. Tim

    She must be into little boys.

    June 25, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  14. Star Performer

    Do you know how to dish it out too?

    June 25, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  15. Star Performer

    You're starting to notice how censorship is DESTROYING YOU!

    June 25, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  16. The Corrector

    I know how to dish it out too Lord!
    Amen at last!

    June 25, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  17. ChopperPapa


    I could provide you with a laundry list of reasons..we'll just leave it at free will. Candidly that statement you've made for no God f isn't even brought up any longer in serious theological debate.

    Let me ask you a question. As an atheist, which I assume you are, how do you determine what the suffering you are referring to and what isn't? I mean where do you draw the line on what is right and what is wrong? Where does your worldview derive from? By making the claim there is no God, you must also infer there are no absolutes and as such there is no right and wrong. Because without the existence of God there is no creator, no eternal, no first cause, and no moral absolute. How then do you decide what is good or bad? Society? Law? Cosmopolitan?

    By saying there is absolutely no God (an absolute statement) you are using an absolute to dismiss an absolute. It's called the Law on Noncontradiction…look it up.

    Personally, God it his infinite wisdom understands that without suffering we as humans would begin to believe in our own divinity, each of us little Gods ruling our own finite universe.

    June 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Oh this is just too easy. Smurfette answer it I LOVE the morality question.

      June 25, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      There are plenty of books on the subject ChopperPapa... Warning, this may require reading, but if you want clinical answers, they are available. I recommend some of Sam Harris' books. He's an entertaining writing and easy to digest. Also available as an audiobook so you can listen on the way to the truck rally. Dawkins also addresses the issue of "absolutely no god" which very few atheist believe. He provides a nice scale of likelihood of a god to simplify the concept. Most scientist are open to the idea of god, and if evidence should ever be found would no longer be considered atheists.

      Lastly, the god of the bible is a cruel, murderous, jealous, childish tyrant. Should we find one day that this god actually exists, I would hope that you would stand on the side of the moral people and fight against such a god with whatever means available to us.

      June 25, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @HawaiiGuest, Sorry.... I couldn't resist.

      June 25, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Smurfette

      @ chopper – where do we begin?
      Misrepresentation for starters. I have never said there is no god. i do not believe that a god exists, but I am open to the possibility if sufficient reliable evidence is provided. You are putting words in my mouth and misrepresenting what i say. Very bad form on your part.

      A person does not need a god, or religion, to have morals. Morals have arisen as a result of the interaction between the humans individual and the human as member of the group.

      Where did god's morals come from? if they were alway present and universal, they exist apart from god- god is irrelevant. if they come from god, they are arbitrary and subject to change. See the old testament vs the New testament.

      Either way, there is no need for god in order to live a moral life.

      But I was talking about suffering – the suffering of innocents. I'll quote your final line: "Personally, God it his infinite wisdom understands that without suffering we as humans would begin to believe in our own divinity, each of us little Gods ruling our own finite universe."

      Please explain how a one year old baby, who is starving to death, or who is being burned horribly, or whatever, needs that suffering to stop that one year old baby from believing in its own divinity.

      Please explain that.

      June 25, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Smurfette

      They like to do that, don't they? Throw out a statement then run away before they have to defend it. Chopper? Where'd ya go, l'il fella?

      June 25, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Heinz Doofenschmirtz

      Hit-and-run self-righteous indignation. Toss out questions as if they are unanswerable, then flee when the answers come and they are well thought out and compelling.

      We may as well just talk dirty to each other, because ultimately it is pointless to talk to them. They don't listen, they don't have any evidence at all so they can't even debate honestly, and they will never ever allow any information seep in and make them think critically about their beliefs. We may as well be talking to the wall.

      So anyway, what are your deep philosophical beliefs on leather masks?

      June 26, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Abril

      ...chopoppa. You sound like the intro to AI (u kno where the alien speaks thru the animated teddy bear in order to comfort the a.i. Boy who thinks hes human)... Heheh eh eh ejajja ja ja.. Thx for the laughs:)

      June 26, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Dan

      @All who accuse Chopper of running away...

      He has a life. He doesn't have to sit in front of the computer waiting for your snarky comments.

      June 26, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Henri

      No, it's one guy who posts under a number of different names, abandoning positions whe he gets cornered.

      Sometimes he does short posts like yours.

      June 26, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • Patrick

      Can god create a rock so heavy he cannot lift it?

      June 26, 2012 at 3:17 am |
    • Blunt Object


      I think the technical term for it is a christian drive-by.

      June 26, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Patrick, put down the doobie, turn off the George Carlin and read C.S. Lewis.

      June 26, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  18. Star Performer

    Do you know how to dish it out?
    Amen at last!

    June 25, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  19. jack

    Does she believe in the Virgin Birth, the godhead of Jesus, transubstantiation, purgatory, angels. the infallibility of Benedict XVI, Heaven, Hell, Limbo, a priests ability to forgive sin.the inerrancy of the bible, Fatima, Lourdes, Knock etc, that humans actually needed a redeemer etc .

    June 25, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  20. jack

    Does she believe in the Virgin Birth, the godhead of Jesus, transubstantiation, purgatory, angels. the infallibility of Benedict XVI, Heaven, Hell, Limbo, a priests ability to forgive sin.the inerrancy of the bible, Fatima, Lourdes, Knock etc, that humans actually needed a redeemer etc etc etc If so she is a jacka**.

    June 25, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Dan

      That's it, Jack. She does't believe aht you believe, so she's a jacka**. How puerile.

      June 26, 2012 at 12:51 am |
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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.