Congratulations, Leah Libresco

I’d like to congratulate formerly atheist blogger Leah Libresco of Unequally Yoked on her recent conversion to Roman Catholicism. Particularly, I applaud her choice to join an institution that officially regards any same-sex sexual activity as “acts of grave depravity”, “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law”, claims that it does “not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity” and that “the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder”, demands lifelong celibacy of gay people, and has repeatedly solicited donations from its parishioners to fund campaigns to ban gay marriage in multiple states.

Additionally, I’m quite proud of her for choosing to become part of a religion that disallows any use of birth control for controlling birth, condemns any sexual activity that can’t result in pregnancy, excommunicated a nun for approving of an 11-week abortion to save a woman’s life rather than letting both the woman and her fetus die, and then revoked the Catholic affiliation of the hospital in question when its management refused to deny life-saving abortions in the future – because saving women’s lives did not reflect “authentic Catholic moral teaching”.

Congratulations on prioritizing whatever it is you prioritize over this.

Congratulations, Leah Libresco
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30 thoughts on “Congratulations, Leah Libresco

  1. 3

    The stated reason as I have understood from her post is she presupposes moral realism in the sense that moral statements/ propositions are not only objectively true or false, but that morality itself exists objectively. She then couldn’t really wed herself to the idea that morality exists somewhere out there in a pure Platonic form, because she wouldn’t know how it would work to have access to it. But then she instead decided morality was a Person:

    ” I believed that the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant. It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth.”

    For unclear auxiliary reasons this Person would then be best accessible by becoming a Catholic. Honestly it reads like a rationalization of a decision rather than a rational decision. I don’t know her, but she seems like a very nice and intelligent person, pursuing an honest intellectual quest. And I have no doubt she will not stop until she knows the answer is 42.

  2. 4

    Albert gives a good description of Leah’s stated metaphysical justifications. For the most part, all I can say to that is, “Alright then, if those are your foundational assumptions, then I guess so”… but like everyone else, I still have another reaction: “But the Catholic church???”

    As I commented over at Blag Hag, I’ve been to a pair of UU services and a Quaker service, and while I can find philosophical quibbles with both, they are mostly not tremendous. The transition from humanist to one of those religions, or vice-versa, is not difficult to imagine. But… the Vatican???

    There are liberal congregations which operate “in the Catholic tradition”, but are separate from the Vatican. If someone were really taken with Catholic metaphysics (for reasons unfathomable to me, but whatever) then I would think that would be a much better choice…?!?

    1. 4.1

      ikr? about her sudden *belief*, what comes to mind for me is “justification befitting the intellect of the believer” where less intellectually thorough people can accept a god’s existence for very weak reasons, a more intellectual person will use convoluted reasoning that is entirely alien to the majority of believers. (and regrettably they never correct each other over this desparity, and delusion runs rampant).

      about her choice of *church*, it is odd how she kept saying her views were in line with catholics. this would require ignoring other churches, and cherry picking the good parts of the catholics (I would think). I find it odd that the decision seemed so binary. no deistic phase.

      lastly, she did run an ideological turing test:
      and I have to say, the atheists who wrote the test as if they were christians were a lot more convincing to me. I’m currently semi-agnostic about the actuality of this conversion, it seems likely enough to me that this is more of an experiment. the turing test was an experiment, but now she is doing a double blind? where the responders don’t know it’s a test?

      then again, I see nothing in her “why I don’t believe” post that looks quite skeptical enough:

      none of the posts there are very hard on supernatural claims. you know, skeptical ways to tell snake oil apart from the discovery of real magic that would revolutionize science. for instance, claims that a soul exists and we are not just our brains, which are computers.

      1. then again, I see nothing in her “why I don’t believe” post that looks quite skeptical enough:

        none of the posts there are very hard on supernatural claims.

        We should be careful about not playing the No True Atheist card, of course, but Leah has made very clear she is not and never was a materialist. In that light, the transition to theism is not that surprising.

        Catholicism, though… yick.

        1. Ya that rly was like a “no true skeptic” or something.

          Also, my denial was kind of a bad reaction. There was plenty of information available to sate my shock. But just believing someone when they say they have a certain ideology would have worked too.

      2. Leo

        Honestly, I never read Unequally Yoked. So I can’t psycho-analyze what may be going on in Leah’s head. Yet, perhaps this should not be too surprising considering that she did those Turing tests and that she apparently had some close relationships with the Christians that participated. Or is this just too much post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning? (A&A: Probably.)

        Now she can be the next woman to write for that Catholic website claiming to be a former atheist (though she’ll at least have some evidence to back up that claim) talking about how consistent Catholic doctrine is…sounds like she may already be off to a good start.

        1. I hope she’ll remain a cafeteria Catholic, or switch a more liberal brand of Christianity. There’s another blogger I sometimes read, her blog is Conversion Diary IIRC, and she’s also an atheist-turned-Catholic but she really seems to have gone all the way, turning pro-life and everything. That’s much more scary.

          1. I find the whole thing baffling. I’d never heard of her before 2 days ago and was find her touted as a “prominent” and “renowned” atheist. When I read something like the prayer she’s posted up today (“Christ in three-space, Christ in tiny rolled up dimensions where gravity lives”), I’m find it hard to believe this isn’t some Chris Morris-style prank.


  3. 5

    Many Catholic churches have really nice buildings! Other than that, I’m stymied in understanding how esoterica in philosophy is a compelling reason to join such a harm increasing organization. Also note that they get some 6 billion $$/year from the US FEDGOV and don’t want any strings on how that secular tax money is spent.

    1. 5.1

      Beautiful architecture, amazing statues, brilliant works of art (Sistine Chapel!), and I rather enjoy Catholic rituals (they’re really quite beautiful).

      But the theology, the doctrines, the rigid hierarchy, the institutionalized misogyny, the insistence on having their silly rules applied to everyone and their freakin’ sister? Not enjoying those so much.

      Yeah, I was raised nominally Catholic, but it never really took. I’m drawn more to the ancient Egyptian gods, particularly Bast. And I don’t even take her too terribly seriously!

    1. 6.1

      I think that’s a good way of putting it, but even still, the Catholic church itself is an odd choice. As I’ve mentioned, there are liberal congregations in the Catholic tradition, with no association with the Vatican. One would think that there you could get your fix of divine moral truth without all the AIDS-spreading and child-raping and gay-bashing and vagina-silencing.

  4. 7

    The worst part is how she has decided this because she thinks morality as a Person makes more sense, ignoring the fact that most gods and especially the Christian one are nothing close to what we’d consider moral. Even the god of the New Testament, supposedly so much more loving, invented ever-suffering Hell where before this same supposedly loving god just killed you (albeit in painful ways like lingering disease or being mauled by bears).

    Following such a being and its rules is no more ‘moral’ than following any other tyrant and, even if the existence of such a being were proved, the more compassionate and ethical and brave thing to do would be to stand up to such horror. I doubt she’d accept any earthly despot, or bow down to actual existing examples of this philosophy, so why worship its unprovable (even disproven) extension?

  5. 8

    It’s funny, a bisexual atheist converts to a church that says she is intrinsically disordered. I personnally think that the Catholic church is no more corrupt than most others, it has just been around longer. I find their acctual beliefs to be morally repugnant. I have been following Leah Libresco for a while now, and I can’t say that this suprises me. The most rediculous thing is that her justifications for her conversion sound like some of the rationalizations I was using right before leaving Catholicism. It makes me sick that I was indoctrinated into that church. I denied who I was for so very long because of it. I hope she won’t stop defending equal marriage rights because of her conversion. Still, it’s a major dissapointment. I hate that that orginization gets even one single dollar more. I hate that they get to say, “Oh, we have atheists who have converted,” as if that is any kind of rational arguement anyway. In her comments section I wished her good luck. She is going to need it in order to justify the complete and utter bullshit she is going to have to defend from now on.

    1. 8.1

      Yeah…it was a bit awful seeing the defenses of Catholicism in her conversion comment section from other Catholics.

      “If it weren’t true, it wouldn’t have lasted so long!” Apparently, flat-earthers and geo-centrism win just because real science is only a few hundred years old.

      “It’s been proven that AIDS isn’t stopped by condoms, the Church is right!” *cites a study that shows AIDS is at least greatly hindered by condoms*

      “You don’t have to believe these things to be Catholic” *ignores posts pointing out Catholic teachings that say you must believe these things to be Catholic*

      I mean, I know lack of self-awareness and blatant double-standards and cherry picking are found in great abundance in brainwashing religions, but man, it was such a concentration of that priveleged BS that it was still surprising to me.

      1. I know this might sound weird, but since my family is still Catholic, and I grew up in the religion, I might be able to offer some insight. Most Catholics have a huge blind spot for the Church. They simply don’t beleive that it is as bad as it acctually is. Most of them don’t know how extensively they fought condom usage in Africa. Most of them think that the child rape and cover-up was inexscusable, but think that the church is doing its best to solve the problem, and that it wasn’t as widespread as it was. And for most, they use the rationalization that, “the church isn’t perfect, because it is comprised of mortal men.” And some even believe that the actions of the Church are repugnant, but because they really do believe the dogma, they feel trapped, and have to stick with their faith despite their disgust. Of course people like that don’t go all out defending the church online. Most Catholics pick and choose their beleifs, but still feel an irrational loyalty to the church.

        Personnally, I despise Catholicism. They got me to believe that I was worthless from a young age. Original sin. “You deserve eternal torture for being born because you are in esscence evil.” Not how they would put it, but what it really means. Their beliefs about homosexuallity got me to deny and repress any attractions towards males I felt, leading me to not discover my bisexuality until recently. I would go on about why I hate Catholicism, but I have already gotten a little too personal.

  6. 11

    First time reading your blog Zinnia, tone in this post is superb!

    Leah has went of the reservation, I can only postulate that there is some major whacky shit taking place in her head, for her sake I hope she sorts it out.

  7. 13

    If I can share in the sarcasm:

    I’m quite proud of her for choosing to become part of a religion that disallows any use of birth control for controlling birth, condemns any sexual activity that can’t result in pregnancy,

    And let’s not forget the pope’s desire for more women to suffer and die from preventable conditions like HPV.

    Sure, the vaccine works, but only in rich countries where it’s available. It’s not available in the third world, nor in places where the religious seek to ban medical care for women (re: refusal by some pharmacists to dispense the “morning after” pill). After all, it only harms women, not men.

  8. 14

    And this is why you shouldn’t let your kids get involved with Neo-Platonism and 17th century rationalism. Remember teach your children safe philosophy practices.

    1. 14.1

      Forgive me for asking something that is probably Philosophy 101 (I really am just starting to read Russell now), but doesn’t Neo-platonism hinge on believing in The One? That is, isn’t it the antithesis of atheism in the first place? How could LL have identified as an atheist while being a Neo-platonist?


  9. 16

    […] My initial reaction to former atheist Leah Libresco (Unequally Yoked) converting to Roman Catholicism was one of anger and hurt. I was confused and dismayed that an atheist could in good conscience choose to join an institution with such deeply disrespectful views on women’s rights and LGBT equality, especially while offering little explanation of why they would select that religion in particular. […]

  10. 17

    “…excommunicated a nun for approving of an 11-week abortion to save a woman’s life rather than letting both the woman and her fetus die, and then revoked the Catholic affiliation of the hospital in question when its management refused to deny life-saving abortions in the future – because saving women’s lives did not reflect “authentic Catholic moral teaching”.”

    This is not honest. You take one ambiguous case and you try to pass it of as normative that “saving women’s lives” is unimportant. But you totally ignore the reason for their normative policy: that usually there is no risk to the mother and that children are being murdered for mere convenience.

    What you are doing here is like saying that you think the entire system of laws and courts should be done away with, merely because a judgement in one case was handed down that you don’t agree with. You might even be right that an error was made here, but to use a possible misstep to overthrow a moral system and replace it with your own that supports indiscriminate murder is absurd. This is a really lousy argument.

    1. 17.1

      But that one case is not in the least bit ambiguous. The woman lived, and that is a good thing that counts. The fact that it was not a trade of her life for the fetus, but rather that the fetus would have died with or without the woman’s death, means that there is not even a half-baked moral argument against such an abortion.

      If the Catholic Church in any way says that such a choice is wrong, as in this case it did, it has demonstrated that is has unacceptable moral priorities. That kind of pressure does terrible damage. They could fix some priorities, but I’m not holding my breath.

    2. 17.2

      You might even be right that an error was made here

      Thank you. I appreciate that you’re willing to admit that the decision here had relevant aspects beyond simply what the church’s hierarchy declared to be moral and immoral. In a case like this, the ethics should not have been particularly ambiguous at all. Even if you contend that abortion is wrong and thus something to be avoided, this essentially came down to a straightforward choice between one death or two deaths. Either choice would have resulted in the death of the fetus, but only one was nearly certain to result in the death of the woman as well.

      While the hospital made the right choice, the church hierarchy apparently would have chosen otherwise. In that instance, saving the woman’s life clearly was unimportant to them – it was not as important as not aborting a fetus even when that fetus was going to die no matter what. If we can acknowledge that letting the woman die would be an error, then we should be able to recognize that the moral system the church hierarchy wished to apply is flawed in that way and should be appropriately revised – and that the church’s moral declarations may not actually be the final answer as far as ethical decisions are concerned.

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