|Interview With Author and Ex-feminist Lorraine Murray
By Teresa Tomeo
DECATUR, Georgia, 9 JULY 2008 (ZENIT)
Lorraine Murray went to college
with a basic Catholic education, an education it only took a few
philosophy classes to undo.
Murray, who has a doctorate in philosophy, is the author of “Confessions
of an Ex-Feminist," in which she traces her journey from Catholicism to
radical feminism, and back.
In this interview with ZENIT, Murray, who is a religion columnist for
the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Georgia Bulletin, comments on
the insights she has gained in her journey back to the Catholic faith.
Q: You were born and raised in the Catholic faith but lost that faith in
college. Can you outline the weaknesses in your faith or Catholic
education that may have caused your faith to crumble?
Murray: When I headed off to college, I was quickly overwhelmed by the
atmosphere of nihilism that pervaded the campus. As a child, I had
dutifully memorized the questions and answers in “The Baltimore
Catechism,” which was the gold standard for Catholic instruction at that
Unfortunately, my Catholic upbringing ignored the nefarious ways that
Satan attacks the Catholic faith, so I was unprepared for college
courses in which arguments against God’s existence were pervasive. In
short, I lacked the tools to defend my faith.
Q: You had earned your doctorate in philosophy and had studied many of
the secular thinkers. Did you ever stop and think about actually
studying or examining the Bible or Catholic teachings to make sure your
had come to the right conclusions?
Murray: Arrogance was my big sin. I thought that my background in
philosophy qualified me to critique
— Church teachings. Also, I was surrounded by professors who
scoffed at claims of the supernatural and thought religion was outdated.
As I pursued my doctorate in philosophy, I studiously avoided examining
the great teachers of the Catholic faith, such as St. Augustine and St.
Thomas Aquinas. And sadly, it never occurred to me to go back and
re-examine the faith I had once held so dear, nor did it dawn on me to
test some of my conclusions by reading the Bible.
Like many people in their 20s, I thought that I knew it all.
Q: I have spoken with many reverts who share similar experiences such as
leaving the Church while never really being familiar with Church
teachings. Why do you think this pattern occurs so often and what can
lay Catholics as well as priests and other religious do to prevent more
people from walking away from their Catholicism?
Murray: I believe it is crucial for priests, who have received extensive
education in theology, to take active roles in parish RCIA programs.
Converts to the faith should become well-schooled in the teachings of
orthodox Catholicism, so they will really understand the beliefs they
I also would love to see more priests leading occasional “refresher”
courses open to all parishioners, because many people in the pews are
eager to defend their faith but lack the tools to do so. Lay Catholics
need to have a copy of “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” handy and
to consult it often.
It would also be helpful for folks to subscribe to orthodox Catholic
publications so they can learn about Catholic news through the eyes of
writers who are well versed in the faith.
Q: What first attracted you to feminism?
Murray: I was quite enchanted by books such as “The Feminine Mystique”
and “The Second Sex,” in which woman’s condition was painted with dark
and dreary brushstrokes. Thinkers such as Betty Friedan and Simone de
Beauvoir saw evidence of women’s oppression and misery everywhere they
My own experience showed few signs of oppression: My mother had
graduated from college, and I was pursuing a doctorate in philosophy and
had received many honors and fellowships. Still, I saw signs of
injustice in the world and thought that feminism had the answer.
In many ways, I clung to this “ism” as a way to achieve a utopian
society on earth, in which everyone would be happy and equal. It took me
a while to see that the cost of this feminist utopia was terrible
indeed, since the “ideal world” envisioned by feminists was built on
abortion and daycare centers.
Generally, the feminist agenda depicted children as a problem, not a
blessing, and marriage as the source of women’s unhappiness, rather than
as a wellspring of happiness, security and joy.
Q: In your book you discuss your own abortion, and that even after
struggling with the physical and emotional consequences of it, you still
clung tightly to feminist dogma regarding abortion and sexual freedom.
Why is it so difficult to see the empty promises of the feminist
Murray: For many years after the abortion, I suffered terrible
flashbacks, stinging regret and bouts of serious depression. However,
when I finally returned to Catholicism, I still held onto many of my
For example, I thought artificial contraception was fine, and abortion
should remain legalized. I was very upset about having ended my own
child’s life, but I still had this ingrained notion that although
abortion had been wrong for me, it might be right for other women in
In short, I was a typical moral relativist, failing to realize that some
acts, like abortion, murder, and rape, are wrong for everyone. It seems
that feminists have so artfully deified the notion of “choice” that it
takes many women a long time to recognize the underlying moral truth:
Some choices are absolutely wrong.
Q: How did you finally start to make your way back to Christ and the
Murray: A mysterious series of events happened, and they left me rather
stunned and shaken up.
First, my husband, who had little knowledge of Catholicism, went on a
business trip to New York. While in the city he stopped in at St.
Patrick's Cathedral and, for some mysterious reason, decided to light
votive candles in memory of his father and my parents.
When he told me that, I realized I had never prayed for the repose of my
parents' souls, although they had been dead for many years.
I also read Thomas Merton's "Seven Storey Mountain," and was very moved
by his journey. Little by little, I began to experience a mysterious
sense of "someone" reaching into my life and tugging at me.
Q: When you first came back to the Church, you were a self-described
“cafeteria Catholic.” What happened in your life that brought you to
full acceptance of Church teachings?
Murray: I was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago, and my life
went through some serious changes. I truly thought I was facing imminent
death, and I longed for spiritual guidance.
Through the grace of God, I found Father Richard Lopez, a religion
teacher at a local Catholic high school, and he became my spiritual
director. At first he helped me accept the cancer diagnosis, but over
time, I began asking him questions about Church teachings, for example
about contraception, abortion and euthanasia.
He explained difficult concepts, gave me books to read, and patiently
answered my many questions. As I grasped the real truth of the Catholic
perspective, I gave up the cafeteria line and started enjoying the full
Q: If you could boil your testimony down to one message for your
readers, what would it be?
Murray: God’s abundant mercy is there for every sinner, no matter how
far afield he or she has strayed. I was someone who promoted atheism in
the classroom, lived according to the precepts of “free love,” and
turned my back on traditional notions of motherhood and family. Still,
God gently called me home, and through the sacrament of penance,
restored grace to my soul.