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Fri Apr 21, 2017, 07:11 AM


Ethics, Mathematics and the Rosary: An Ex-Atheist Discusses Her Conversion

Author and blogger Leah Libresco Sargeant was convinced of Catholicismís truth after a rigorous intellectual journey.

APR. 20, 2017
Stephen Beale

Leah Libresco Sargeant, once a prominent atheist blogger, converted in 2012 to Catholicism after engaging and challenging her readership to present an intellectually rigorous, spiritually rewarding response to her questions on life. Sargeant continues to blog, only now from a Catholic perspective, and also is a contributing editor at America magazine.

She is the author of Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer. Sargeant recently spoke with the Register about what motivated her conversion and the surprising changes she experienced in her life afterward, including how she learned to pray through the Rosary. The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Tell us a little about your background as an atheist.

My family wasnít religious. And I didnít know anyone who was religious and took it seriously. I grew up in a part of Long Island that was mostly ethnic-secular Jewish. So most people in my high school had bar mitzvahs but didnít really pray or do anything besides the cultural parts of Judaism. So most of my exposure to religion would be things like The 700 Club ó the kind of religion that makes the news. And it wasnít until I went to college that I knew practicing Christians who were smart, who were comfortable talking about their faith, and who honestly werenít kind of rounded up to the nearest stereotype, i.e., evangelical Americans.

Was there ever a point when you chose to be an atheist or were you always atheist by default?

It was always just more of a default position. I thought religion was false. A lot of the examples of religion I found werenít compelling. And, as I still believe, I donít think that it ever helps people who believe things that arenít really true. I donít think thereís any such a thing ultimately as a noble lie that actually helps people in the long term. So when I was interested in other peopleís religious beliefs, if they werenít true, I wanted to argue them out of it. I have people who are atheists who respond to me that way now. I think thatís a compliment to religion to think that way. Because for religion to be something that is completely innocuous ó whether you believe it or not, that if you are wrong about it, thatís fine ó implies that religion has no consequences. Thatís certainly not how I feel about my faith now that I have one.



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