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Sen. Marco Rubio's religious journey: Catholic to Mormon to Catholic to Baptist and Catholic
February 23rd, 2012
04:50 PM ET

Sen. Marco Rubio's religious journey: Catholic to Mormon to Catholic to Baptist and Catholic

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - A new wrinkle emerged Thursday in the autobiography of a rising Republican star: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, was once a Mormon.  Rubio, a Cuban-American who has played up his Catholic roots on the campaign trail and today attends Catholic churches as well as a Southern Baptist megachurch, was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a young boy.

Rubio's attendance in the church was little-known and made a splash when details of a forthcoming memoir were reported Thursday by the Miami Herald and the website BuzzFeed.

Thursday afternoon, Rubio's spokesman elaborated on his complex journey of faith.

"He had already planned on discussing his faith journey in his memoir," Alex Conant said. "His faith journey was part of the pitch to the publishers.”

"He's well along in the writing. We're aiming for an October publication," said Will Weisser, the associate publisher at Sentinel, a Penguin Group (USA) imprint. At the moment, it is not releasing excerpts of the tentatively titled "An American Son," nor would Weisser go into further details on the production of the Rubio-penned book.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

In 1979, when Rubio was 8 years old, his family moved to Las Vegas and joined an LDS church for several years, according to Conant.

He said Rubio was baptized as an infant in the Catholic church, but when they formally joined the Mormon church, Rubio was again baptized.

Dale Jones, a spokesman for the LDS church, said 8 is traditionally the earliest age when a child of that faith would be baptized.

When Rubio was 11 years old, his family returned to Catholic tradition. While the family still lived in Las Vegas, Rubio received First Communion, a sacrament in the Catholic church when adherents take communion for the first time.

When Rubio and his family moved back to Florida in 1985, he went through confirmation in the Catholic church.

He was later married in a Catholic church, and his children were baptized in that faith.  His office said Rubio considers himself "a practicing Catholic."

Today, the senator splits his time between Washington and Miami. While he is in D.C., he worships at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. Near the Senate office building buildings on Capitol Hill, the church is a favorite with politicians and Supreme Court justices.

Another twist revealed Thursday: About 2002, Rubio left the Catholic church and began attending what was then First Baptist Church of Perrine, now called Christ Fellowship. "While they were never baptized or registered as members, they attended regularly," Conant said.

When he is in Miami, Rubio attends St. Louis Catholic Church and Christ Fellowship, a Southern Baptist multisite church with 8,000 regular attendees.

In 2005, Rubio returned again to the Catholic church, though "he enjoys the sermons and the excellent children’s ministry at Christ Fellowship and still attends often," according to Conant.

The information about Rubio's church history and the content of the book first came to light in a Miami Herald blog post Thursday morning.

In addition, the Herald reported, when Rubio's father was 18, "he took part in an ill-fated military plot to overthrow Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo." And on a lighter note, Rubio and his aides would watch the spoof rock documentary "Spinal Tap" to "loosen up."

Weisser said the Herald's characterizations of what the book will contain were accurate.

When the book deal was announced, the publisher said the book will detail the rise of the GOP star and junior senator born to parents who left Cuba shortly before Fidel Castro took control of the island.

Rubio, 40, campaigned heavily as the son of exiles and reported on his website that his parents fled under the dictatorship of Castro.

But controversy grew over his family's history last October after a Washington Post report found that his parents left Cuba in 1956, before the start of Castro's regime.

The news prompted critics to attack Rubio for embellishing his life's story, to which Rubio replied that he was unaware of the exact dates until the story broke.

While his staff members updated his website after the story published, the senator still maintained that he was the son of exiles, as his parents weren't allowed to return to Cuba under Castro's rule.

Sentinel acquired the rights to the memoir after a "competitive" auction process with six publishing houses.

Many speculated that Rubio's history with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could further ingratiate him with Mitt Romney, one of America's most prominent Mormons, and make him a viable candidate for vice president should Romney win the Republican presidential nomination.

Conant batted away any political speculation around the details of Rubio's faith journey, saying, "I’ll leave the political analysis to the folks who do that."

– CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Politics

soundoff (597 Responses)
  1. LETFREEDOMRING2

    Apparently the fact that Newt and Rick are Catholics has no bearing on their ability to lead this country even though many people think that they should be tarred with the fact that their church has paid out over 2.4 billion dollars for covering up and the commission by Priests of thousands of molestations of young boys.

    Only the Mormons are ragged upon by the media bigoted editors and their lackey writers. The Jews are no longer the religion or race of choice to pick on.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Lenny Pincus

      I think you will find that most of the religious bigotry emanates from evangelicals, you know, the Franklin Grahams of the world. I also think that Rick Santorum would castigate Mitt for his religions if he had the chance. Look at the BS he spews about Obama.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  2. LETFREEDOMRING2

    LETFREEDOMRING2

    The media appeals to the bigotry and ignorance of some Americans that are unaware that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a most humanitarian Christian church of 14 million world-wide, first at Katrina and the Tsunamis and whos past late president Gordon B. Hinckley was awarded the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM, the highest civilian award we have for those humanitarian acts over the years.

    Oh yes, Mitt Romney the great MBA JD honors winner from Harvard that saved the Olympics, produced great companies and brought Massachusetts back to surpluses is a Mormon.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  3. foreverwar

    I would be impressed more if they said he once was a human.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  4. Patiat

    A doofus on a lifelong search for someone to follow...and now he wants us to follow him. No thanks. Give me someone else to vote for. I don't trust Rubio.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  5. Joseph

    PEOPLE MORMONS ARE CHRISTIANS !!!! I am a Mormon Christian. We are NOT a Cult. Nor do we support having multiple wives. We worship Jesus Christ.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Terry

      Sorry, I am not buying your claim. I had a friend who joined the Mormon Church, and he started acting like a "Stepford Student". It took time, but he came to realize that the Mormon Church is similar to a cult, and he left the church. All of the people he met and spent time with at the church now treat him like a leper.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  6. Lenny Pincus

    What makes Christianity a "western" religion? It seems rather middle eastern and gothic, not surprisingly since that is where it originated. Pretty much the same place as Islam.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • mimi45

      anal much?

      February 24, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Lenny Pincus

      An excellent, and typical, winger response.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Asherah Kuanyin Ganesha Adonai Zeus

      The Western world adopted it. And Judaism became a Western religion because its adherents migrated.

      February 24, 2012 at 3:24 am |
  7. yneemee

    The ONLY people who care about these kinds of stories are CNN and MSNBC – voters in the Republikan party have had more diversity of choice.. 2 catholics, 2 mormons, 1 black, 1 woman, and Ron Paul among others even though the media keeps tropping out the same old dog about how Chirsitans can't support a Catholic or a Mormon – why does CNN and MSNBC hate Christians and whites so much ??

    February 24, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Lenny Pincus

      I have to say that the Ron Paul reference is really funny. I hope you meant it as such.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Sirned

      Gee since its Republicans that talk about God and Religion all the darn time I would think this would be of great interest to you.....

      February 24, 2012 at 1:50 am |
  8. mimi45

    so 3 years is "several years" ? I was raised methodist and now I am a Congregationalist..so?...big whoop people. ...and yes what ARE the religious backgrounds of those other Dems? (quite frankly...its all rather droll...) Is this really the best that you can do CNN? I'm sure if he was some New Age Hybrid Krishna Kabala Paganist Dem it would all be Ok....you subvert in this needlessly sensationalist piece that mainstream Mormons are extremist freaks who will dominate everyone with their beliefs....when did Mitt Romney ever assert any uniquely Mormon dogma or doctrine in any job or position he has held in public life? Look, I'm not even GOP, I'm not even a regular Sun. church go-er, but this constant bashing of western religions is sophmoric at best...please, bore me with gas prices instead..

    February 24, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  9. Ron C

    Here you go again. Liberal press finding fault with an 8 year old's religion. Rubio for VP.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Sirned

      Now let's use facts. He got baptized in the Morman Church and when he was a teen he moved to Florida and didn't go to church for quite some time because there were no Morman Churches close by.... To this day he is still registered as a Morman.... Sounds like he wants to keep both legs and one arm in three Churches...

      February 24, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • Asherah Kuanyin Ganesha Adonai Zeus

      I'm fine with multireligious people. (Obviously, my screen name here is a giveaway, LOL.)

      February 24, 2012 at 3:26 am |
  10. yneemee

    Who cares.... why does CNN and MSNBC keep bringing up things like Mormonism when the voters

    February 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • LETFREEDOMRING2

      The media appeals to the bigotry and ignorance of some Americans that are unaware that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a most humanitarian Christian church of 14 million world-wide, first at Katrina and the Tsunamis and whos past late president Gordon B. Hinckley was awarded the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM, the highest civilian award we have for those humanitarian acts over the years.

      Oh yes, Mitt Romney the great MBA JD honors winner from Harvard that saved the Olympics, produced great companies and brought Massachusetts back to surpluses is a Mormon.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Sirned

      Ask Rev. graham and Santorum....Don't blame news channels for reporting news you don't like. It's the Republican party that has religious tests for your politicians..And a story like this has national interest..iIn other words it's news..

      February 24, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  11. valwayne

    Gov Rubio's family had him baptized in the Mormon faith when he was 8? So what is wrong with that? As he got older he returned to the Catholic faith in which he was originally baptized? What's wrong with that? And he attends other Christian churches sometimes, again so what. I'm impressed that Gov Rubio has had these experiences. Knowing, understanding, and being tolerant of the faiths of millions of other Americans seems like not just a good think for a VP or future President, but a wonderful thing! The religious bigotry and open attacks on Christians by the extreme left, and mainstream media are really out of bounds.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • LETFREEDOMRING2

      See how the bigots crawl out of their holes to rag on Mormons. The media loves to throw these animals biased meat to chew on.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  12. Lenny Pincus

    So Rubio is not only a liar, he seems to be spiritually confused. For him, faith seems more like a maze. I can relate. Listening to these wingers talk about their supposed religiosity is downright ridiculous. No wonder God wants them to all shut up.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  13. sonic10158

    I need to stop clicking on articles that don't matter to me

    February 23, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  14. Reality

    Once again since we have received no response from Marco:

    Dear Marco,

    You appear to be lost on the absurdity seas of religion. The following should help you right your ship:

    Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con:

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

    p.4

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • mimi45

      .....oh my....

      February 24, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Fox

      QUOTE "From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:"

      Are you serious? You are quoting a whiteboard? From a "major" university. Wow.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • kso

      awesome response. absolutely awesome.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • kso

      @ Reality

      February 24, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Reality

      Notes taken during class i.e. from a whiteboard i.e. try Notre Dame or Catholic U. Some Catholic professors actually do think outside the "bible bun"!!!

      February 24, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  15. Max

    SO?...NO WAY

    Does this mean that Rubio was once a member of a major CULT in the United States? Does this mean that if Romney chooses Rubio as his running mate, we will have two members of the same Morman CULT vying to be President and Vice-President of the United States?

    NO WAY!!!NEVER!!! Americans are too enlightened to make this happen.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • SurRy

      Catholic church = cult
      Mormon church = cult
      Baptist church = cult
      All organized religions are cults

      February 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • t9qh9qeuhuqehpuqf9pq3h9qh4

      "CULTS" kill people, you know, like blowing up another country's scientists.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Asherah Kuanyin Ganesha Adonai Zeus

      Dihydrogen monoxide also kills people, for that matter, yet we use it all the time.

      February 24, 2012 at 3:28 am |
  16. Alinnc

    Don't really care what religion he was in or professes to be in now. As with virtually all of the GOP members of the US House & Senate, he needs to go back home. This race to the far right has to stop.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  17. eco3810

    When are we going to have a step by step description of Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Reid, Sebelius, and the rest of the cabinet "journey of faith" ? Why doesn't Obama tell us what his spiritual mentors think of abortion, mandated free birth control, stem cells from embreyos, gay marriage. I would be interested to hear from both Rev Wright and Rev Billy Graham. I think this would be worthy of an hour or two show on CNN. Think we could see this before the election? I would even be interested in hearing what Jewish and Islamic leaders think about these subjects.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Graham Krueger

      Well, some of this is me projecting onto the lesser of two evils, but not everyone wants a constant reminder of the faith of our leaders. I think some of the aforementioned, especially Obama, talk altogether too much about their religion, albeit still much less than the Republicans. The best thing a candidate can say to me on faith is that his or her religious beliefs will have no real effect on how (s)he governs

      February 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  18. tonyl

    Obama will crush either of the four GOP clowns fanatics. These clowns cannot win the independents with their religious views of controlling American women and their lives. They cannot win by pushing their religion on all Americans. Americans are a diverse society and come from all faiths and beliefs. We are a republic with rights for all of our people regardless of their faiths including people of no faith, agnostics and Atheist.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  19. Kolob the Great

    4 out of 5 Mormon's agree: Kolobmite beats Dolomite every time.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  20. MikeH

    What a liar Rubio is. Tells everyone his parents fled Castro, then we find out they left Cuba two years before Castro came to power, tells everyone he lost his mother when he was an infant, then we find out she died when he was nine years old. His lie about his mother and this habit of repeatedly jumping to new religions says this guy is mentally-damaged goods.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.