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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. TruthIsKing

    Obama attended a Muslim Madrasah school in Indonesia when he was a child. He spent practically his entire adult life in a church that taught black liberation theology. After not attending hardly any church services for three years, now he will attend any church that will help him get re-elected. Put that in the context of of this article and Marco Rubio looks pretty good.

    February 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • disjustin

      HARDLY!

      February 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • TruthIsKing

      Disjustin: Great come back! I bet you won alot of debates with that one.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who needs a great co meback for a lame-az z comment like yours, fuc kwit?

      February 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  2. John K

    Is this news? There is nothing wrong in this article. So as a kid and had zero control over where his parents took him, he switched religions. Now he has tested a few different churches and landed with one or two he likes, wow that's impactful. Kind of hypocitical for any Dem to comment about this when most want religion very much out of politics.

    February 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  3. george of the jungle

    he sounds just like a regular republican keep changing positions untill you find one you like. This is repo infighting at its best. Wow. It is nice to see how well the repos get along.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      So when Obama stated that he would close Guantanamo Bay and then signed the order to continue operations there in the same manner and fashion that G.W. Bush had.... was that a Flip Flop?

      February 24, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  4. Boomer in Mo

    I don't care about anyone else's religion, except when they try to shove it down my throat. I work for a Catholic. I am not Catholic. I don't know why my Catholic employer should be empowered to enter the exam room with me and my doctor. What goes on in there is none of my employer's business. If he was a Christian Scientist, I suppose the GOP would tell me I had to do without any medical care at all.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Scarface86

      He should not have the right to be in the doctor's office with you. However, he should not be compelled to pay for your insurance if it goes against his beliefs.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • momoya

      What a neat little loophole religious freedom is. Hey, my religious beliefs say I don't believe in medicine, no need to provide insurance coverage to my employees.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Well, ...think about it... they are your employees. Maybe, if it were a safety thing folks could understand because if you get hurt "on the job" then your future employment can be compromised. Health care for things not related makes moral sense but also not forcing a business owner to provide also makes moral sense.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  5. ART

    Wow Republicans even flip flop with religion no wonder they can't be trusted.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Wait .... are you talking about Republican flip flops a week after Obama (d) flip flop on the contraception debate?

      Come on... don't laugh at not trusting out "flip flops" while the "flip flops" are clearly secured to thine feet :D

      February 24, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @Mark,

      Apparently you don't understand the difference between flip-flopping and compromising. In my view Obama compromised too much, but he hardly flipped his stance.

      February 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Yes "compromise" is what you tell the other side you did when your core supporters are saying you "flip Flopped on them"

      Remember Bush I and no new taxes? He declared it a "compromise" and the core of the Republicans declared that he "Flip Flopped".....

      Maybe, the same fate will happen to Obama that happened to Bush I...... tell me though, we will still have troops as "advisors" and working in the largest embassy on the planet, troop surge...after Obama talked to Cheney....

      The Democratic Congress created the Health Care reform and the Gay Republicans got Don't Ask Don't Tell repealed.

      So, what has Obama done accept for flip flop. :)

      February 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      ...except :)

      February 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  6. Dan G.

    I guess CNN would have been celebrating if they found out he was a Muslim, illegal, or a member of the GLBT community.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  7. Dan G.

    I thought BSNBC would be the only anti-GOP network that would shamefully publish this totally irrelevant article. I guess the Left-leaning CNN thought it would also be possibly demeaning to Rubio and beneficial to CNN's candidate, President Obama.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      The article is only irrelevant if the voting public ignores, or at least doesn't care about religious beliefs. However, it seems that the right eats this stuff up. It's the uber-religious right that makes this article relevant.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"it's the uber-religious right "

      Hmm... Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and even Biden (Catholic) and Obama ... are not your personal definition of "ubber" Religious.

      Heck, my mother, grandmother and many of my cousins are strong Democrats that are also strong in their service to the church.... can I go and tell them that they are closet Black Republicans ? :)

      February 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      I never said that democrats aren't religious. They just don't seem to care nearly as much what beliefs a particular candidate has.

      February 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      ...Rev. Jemimah Wright.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  8. Paul

    I don't mean to sound jealous or envirous you certainly don't get rich counting the other guys change is an old Russian proverb my grandfather taught my father, but it seems the repubs just obsess and thrive over the lucky and the insanely fortunate, and it's epidemic all around me. , he's lucky and he knows it. What ires me is that he doesn't have balls to admit it. I still say they can win in November, I hope to God not, if they pull that Reaganesque Shining City on a Hill crap. It was used the speech the night before the election. Even as a die hard liberal, it was a hell of a speech. and Marco Rubio you are no Ronald Reagan.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Scarface86

      So Senator Rubio's work ethic had nothing to do with his success? I guess everyone who is successful in this country got lucky according to you. How can you say Republicans obsess about what others have? The Democrats are the party that is trying to divide the country by spreading envy.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • plot

      Because Repubs believe that money=superiority in all things. Doesn't matter how that money is earned or stolen, Repubs worship the rich. They've been trying for eons to turn Jesus into a rich guy with a mega-mansion in Dallas. The Koch brothers have commissioned a new bible that will eliminate all references to helping the poor or giving away wealth. Repubs are gonna buy that crap like hotcakes.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Scarface86

      Plot: You need to take off the tin foil hat.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Wow, ... I thought that us Republicans only cared about Religious matters. Other boards say that we only care about war such.

      Geez, some of yall gripe a lot. :)

      February 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • plot

      Show me a Republican who doesn't worship the wealthy, then.

      Its seems to me that Republicans are always fighting for the rights of the rich, against their own self interest. Oh, yeah, Jesus Jesus Jesus. Funny thing, their Jesus always sides with the rich.

      Look up the new bible translation. It's an eye opener. Someone wants you to vote against your interests again.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Show me a Republican who doesn't worship the wealthy, then."

      Not saying that just Republicans listen to country music or that the genre is just aimed at the GOP, but I could suggest to you a pretty good playlist. :)

      .... shall we compare that to Rosie O'Donnell's Tom Selek interview in which she eluded to that because she was rich and famous that her, her partner and their child should have the privilege of armed guards to protect them....but that us poor average folks should not have firearms to protect our family.

      Both parties have their rich and poor.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  9. Paul

    I don't mean to sound jealous or envirous you certainly don't get rich counting the other guys change is an old Russian proverb my grandfather taught my father, but it seems the repubs just obsess and thrive over the lucky and the insanely fortunate, and it's epidemic all around me. , he's lucky and he knows it. What ires me is that he doesn't have balls to admit it. I still say they can win in November, I hope to God not, if they pull that Reaganesque Shining City on a Hill crap. It was used the speech the night before the election. Even as a die hard liberal, it was a hell of a speech. and Marco Rubio you are no Ronald Reagan. See through the crap everybody!

    February 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  10. Reality

    As noted previously:

    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 lesson plans:

    "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 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  11. livingston

    That sound you hear is evangelical and extreme republican base's heads exploding.
    Someone make some popcorn – watching the spin they put on this will be priceless!

    February 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  12. Sickofit

    This guy makes me sick. PERIOD!

    February 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Publius Novus

      And me. I think if I read "rising Republican star" one more time, my head is going to explode.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  13. jbird

    I think I know how Rubio's family got involved with Mormons. First a short story-Around 2003, my now ex-wife's best friend found herself homeless. She had heard that church provides help to people in need, esp single moms. She got the help, got money, and an apartment. However she had to join the church and fulfill some role(I think she had a kitchen job at special events). This is the price for the help.

    I have a feeling that this is what happened with the Rubio family. They were new to the country, and either went for the help, or were scouted out. Then they had to join and fulfill jobs there.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • LinSea

      EVERYONE helps out in the LDS church. EVERYONE takes turns helping to clean the church buildings, EVERYONE gives sermons, or teaches classes, or helps with music if they have a musical background, helps prepare and send meals to members who are sick, helps other members when they move, helps set up the tables and put the food out for gatherings, visits other members on a monthly basis to find out if they need help with anything. That's just how we do things.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • plot

      LinSea,

      And you demand desperate people join your church before you help them out? I think that was the point.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  14. The MagusNYC.

    One who leaves the Mormon Church is apostate, especially if one regresses back to the Christianity that is expressly rejected by the Mormons. It would be odd for Mr. Romney to have relations with an apostate Catholic.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  15. Mike in Dallas

    Sounds like Rubio is a flip-flopper when it comes to religion. I don't hold his religion against him, but I look at his political party and all I see are extremist loons!

    February 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  16. KAZPORT

    For all of those in the media that keep saying Republicans need to talk about the issues. The MEDIA keeps bringing up religion. They are so scared that Rubio may be the VP pick and the whole scenario will change. Do you really think that there would be any BACKLASH against an 8 yr old. Come on. Grasping at straws.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  17. Hypatia

    I really don't care whether Rubio converted to Druidism. Religion has no place in politics.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • plot

      Exactly so. Religion SHOULDN'T have a role in politics.

      But the Moral Majority changed all that and now it's whoever mentions Jesus the most gets elected. This means that clowns like Rubio can hit all the religious bases and get a lot of votes if he produces tears for Jesus during his speeches.

      Sick country.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  18. John the Historian

    I guess Republicans flip flop on religion like they do on everything else. They want to have both ways. Well considering Mormons are a cult at least he returned to a mainstream religion like the Catholic Church. But considering the Catholic vote is only a myth. The majority of Catholics believe birth control is ok and that gay marriage is fine, I guess Rubio might have to reconsider even this flip flop.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • plot

      Rubia(sp. int.) attends an Evangelical church every week, as well as Catholic. Smart fellow. Most Catholics want good birth control and support civil rights for everyone. Evangelicals are still sniffing crotches for the taint of sin.

      The Republicans have captured the market on the stupidest block of voters. Rubio wants them, too.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  19. Eagle35

    Decisions made by Rubio's parents and decisions an 8 year old and an 11 year old are relevant. Boy the liberals are desperate for an issue. How about Obama's cocaine use as an ADULT?

    February 24, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • RFBJR

      No question, I mean, 8 years old, seriously? The hatred of conservatives runs deep. To try and make this an issue may be a new low. For all the talk on equal rights and discrimination, you would think they applaud this fine young man. Wow, liberals just turn my stomach, they just flat out pick and lie...typical antagonist...just miserable, miserable hypocrites.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by RFBJR contains instances of the ad hominem fallacy, and the circ-umstantial ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#H6

      February 24, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  20. Eagle35

    You are going to discuss religious choices made by a child and influenced by adults to try to make political points for Obama? What a joke. I guess Obama's cocaine use as an adult should be an issue too! It sure has affected his brain!

    February 24, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • al

      Obama isn't in this fight. This is a fight amongst Republicans. I"m a better Christian than you.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • KAZPORT

      You are exactly right. They are so scared that Rubio will be the Vp choice for Romney. But we can't dare ask about Obamas religious journey when he was young before 20 Years in Rev. Wrights church we are seen as re-hashing the past or Racist agianst him. Well too bad if they are going to play the religion card then bring it on.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • KAZPORT

      What was Obamas religious beliefs when he was 8 yrs old? Don't dare go there we are seen as racist. I heard one commentator say "been there done that" How dare we question Obama. It the media wants to play the Religion card Bring it on. But don't demonize us for bringing up Rev. Wright that influenced Obama for 20 yrs. Fair Game

      February 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Mike in Dallas

      Al's right, this isn't Obama's fault, or the media's... Probably a rival in the GOP that doesn't want Rubio to be the VP choice... Politics is a dirty business, not likely to get any cleaner while this power struggle for the soul of the Republican party is fought...

      February 24, 2012 at 12:33 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.