By now, I am sure most of us are aware Leah Libresco has converted to Catholicism.
While the intertubes have been rife with speculation as to the reason for this sudden change in philosophical direction, I honestly couldn’t care less. Cat Stevens became a Muslim. Bob Dylan became a Christian. Glenn Beck became a Mormon. Tom Cruise became a raving lunatic. People change. Even atheists. This happens. Move on.
Then why are you writing about it, Alastor?
Glad you asked.
See, the folks over at CNN.com ran this Op-Ed on Libresco’s conversion. Given my ambivalence towards Libresco (I was not a regular reader) and her conversion, I was initially tempted to pass it by, but I noticed something very peculiar about how CNN was pitching the piece. Here’s a screenshot:
Well, was she “top” or was she “prominent”? While the two words describe similar qualities, they are not synonymous.
Libresco was certainly popular – popular enough to get mention on CNN – but did she have the presence and/or following of, say, Dawkins, Mehta, or Meyers? I should think not.
CNN’s motivation is clear enough. Their bias isn’t religion, but ad revenues. The ticker icons are meant to “sell” pieces to readers. To do this, they oftentimes have to make these pieces seem more interesting than they really are. In this case, they’ve deliberately and knowingly overstated Libresco’s status amongst atheists.
That believers will capitalize on this hyperbole, however, warrants no mention. The very piece thus advertised presents an overall uncritical account of Libresco’s conversion, which believers will no doubt pounce on as “evidence” of the emptiness of atheism. Demographics show the irreligious to be growing faster than any other “religious” group in the country, but that warrants no mention upon the pagers of the hallowed CNN Belief Blog. What matters is a “top” atheist has seen the light.