They say that there are no atheists in foxholes. Being unable to sell one's house can also turn a person away from atheism:
The Catholic saint has long been believed to help with home-related matters. And according to lore now spreading on the Internet and among desperate home-sellers, burying St. Joseph in the yard of a home for sale promises a prompt bid.
With the worst housing market in recent years, St. Joseph is enjoying a flurry of attention. Some vendors of religious supplies say St. Joseph statues are flying off the shelves as an increasing number of skeptics and non-Catholics look for some saintly intervention to help them sell their houses.
Some Realtors, too, swear by the practice. Ardell DellaLoggia, a Seattle-area Realtor, buried a statue beneath the "For Sale" sign on a property that she thought was overpriced. She didn't tell the owner until after it had sold. "He was an atheist," she explains. "But he thanked me."
Catholic leaders also say that faith and devotion are necessary, in addition to burying a statue, otherwise the practice amounts to little more than superstition or magic. But they are also enjoying the saint's newfound popularity. "If they have a good result and they think it was St. Joseph, it might inspire them to practice more," says Msgr. Connell.