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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.

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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. cnnsucks

    Who cares! The libaturds always trying to make something out of nothing...At least he believes in God something that no libs do...

    February 23, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And you have proof that liberals are all atheists? Do tell.

      Yet another microcephalic goober farts a gas-bubble on the web.

      February 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  2. Reggie from LA

    I guess he'd pander to whichever religion he thinks will support him in the polls. Just look at him in the picture:
    "I need those votes!! I'll get back with you on that God stuff shortly, but in the meantime let's get down to the polls Muslims...I mean Baptists... Catholics. What church am I in right now? Doesn't matter, I need to win this thing."

    February 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  3. Political Gods

    relapsed Catholic twice removed

    February 23, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  4. Erik

    He really tried to get away from Catholicism, but it's the least looney of the bunch.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  5. Political Gods

    tho shalt be Sufi today Rubio!

    February 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  6. Aaron

    I'm surprised the no one is screaming for his birth certificate. That's right, he's Repub, so it's never an issue. But, he may want to rethink the Mormonism...could get into a lucrative wives swapping deal with Romney.....and Newtie Mac is always game for a wife shell game.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Bigot Spotter

      You were making a point and then you got biggoted and went off the rails,

      February 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  7. jack sheldon

    Who cares. One he had no say in his religion as a child. Two does it really matter what religion you believe in. Come on people

    February 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Karma6338

      Exactly....just as President Obama had no control over what religion or lack of he was raised in, but people just won't let it go.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Obyssmal

      Who won't let it go?

      February 23, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  8. cali girl

    I think he is still trying to find his God. Good luck with that.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  9. ITELLYOUWHAT

    Baptism is associated with accepting Jesus and being saved by grace. Being saved by grace means you should have received a punishment for your sin which hurt other people. The problem is that Grace tends to be put above The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:37. If Grace were above the Greatest Commandment, then the devil could be forgiven and he would be in heaven. The devil does not love God and this is the reason he is not in heaven. The purpose of following the law is to show others that we love God. Unfortunately, those that view Grace above the Greatest commandment are using the law as a means to judge others as being not good enough to follow it. This is the common argument against the Jew. Love or judge, the choice is yours! Matthew 22:37 states you are called to Love and the law tells us how. Not knowing that God loves us is associated with our inherited sin from the fall of Adam and Eve. For God so loved the world that he sent his son not to condemn the world but to save it. Christ forgives our old sinful ways, since being born again is associated with a change in behavior because we now see that God loves us and therefore we now desire to love him. If grace is infinite, then it would not be a choice to love God. If grace is infinite, there would be no reason to change our ways and become a new creation or be born again. If grace is infinite, then God would accept evil and thus be evil. To forgive and not expect any change in behavior would produce more of the same behavior that the original forgiveness required.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • ajk68

      You seem to be missing a point about grace – it is not compelling. It can be rejected. The source of grace is boundless – unless you want to say that God is constrained in some way. What is not boundless is our acceptance.

      In the case of the devils, they cannot be saved because their intellect is such that they completely understood the gravity of the evil they were embarking on and had complete control over their will. As such their sin was in no way mitigated by a plea of weakness. Furthermore, God is not obliged to extend forgiveness to any sinner. It is His free choice.

      Reading some of your posts, you need a good course in theology. Find a priest trained in scholastic theology (St. Thomas Aquinas et al). The scholastics answered your problems/paradoxes quite concisely.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  10. ITELLYOUWHAT

    Infinite Universe – zero is not equal to one (there is a point where matter can't be divided – God is Something that can neither be created nor destroyed that is dependent on nothing.) An infinite universe lacks a beginning, so there is no one set past or a given future. The infinite Universe supports the view that all particles considered to be energy have mass or substance; that there is one fundamental particle which accounts for all the diverse forms of matter in the Universe. It is the ultimate example of team work, since it fundamentally has no reason to destroy itself. So, why does evil exist? Free will and without freewill, God would lack choice. Balance is the nature of perfection in the Infinite Universe. In an infinite Universe the total amount of something remains constant. When an atom is divided it no longer has the characteristics of the original element. There is a point where matter can't be divided and at this point something and nothing are distinctly defined. In the infinite Universe, the term infinite is used to describe the difference between something (1) and nothing (0). There is an infinite difference between zero and one. Our God is a God of the living and not of the dead, thus he has no plan to create nothing or become it. (Luke 20:38) In our God the creator of our Lord Jesus Christ, time has no beginning or end.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  11. Dave

    What does it matter? Aren't church and state suppose to be separated? I agree with Ians comment above.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  12. ITELLYOUWHAT

    If God created something from nothing, then both something and nothing would be apart of him. The problem is that something and nothing are total opposites. Like good and evil. Nothing is associated with no movement, something is associated with movement and to be both would be like saying that truth and lies are the same. If God created something from nothing, he would not be a jealous God because he could easily turn something back into nothing. The point here is that no scripture in the Bible specifically states that God created something from nothing. Science is promoting it and the church is beginning to accept it. Finite Universe – zero and one are equal (matter can be infinitely divided into nothing – God is Nothing that created everything out of emptiness) "At the Planck distance and the Planck time all physics, as we know it today collapses. This is the reason we call the beginning of the big bang a singularity. You cannot apply ordinary reasoning there. Zero and one have no sense there.OK?" J-P Burri There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Big Bang views one and zero as being equal, since it states that zero appeared out of the absence of zero; then zero created something. Many scientists believe or have faith that light does not have mass, thus they believe the Universe is Finite. Religion promotes the most commonly accepted idea of the group. If light does not have mass, then it would be impossible to move an electron. Light described as a particle means nothing, if it has no mass since it would be impossible to distinguish from nothing because no mass means void of substance. If it has no substance, then nothing is present to distinguish the particle from other particles.
    The Big Bang theory prevents any condition where something has always been. Infinity is defined as the difference between one and zero. Once one and zero are the same according to the big bang, the definition of infinity as stated above is no longer valid. If the big bang occurred, all math's must deal with the proof of 0=1.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • texgirl2762

      Oh, for God's sake . . . seriously. Step away from the keyboard until the drugs wear off

      February 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  13. Sirned

    Rubio which religious principles do you believe today? How can we believe you won't be a Muslum tomorrow ? I don't care but your Tea Party Patriots sure do.....

    February 23, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • texgirl2762

      "Muslum"? Stay on the left, with the rest of the 'tards.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  14. Seattle Sue

    Sounds as though Rubio has been around the block a few times.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  15. Geoz

    You believers who want to vote GOP just can't get the purity you want reallly can you? And I just can't stop laughing. Your purity tests are hilarious.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • texgirl2762

      And the Democrats' complete lack of any kind of ethics or morality would be hilarious, too, if it weren't so cosmically tragic. Isn't there a tree you're supposed to be hugging somewhere?

      February 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  16. stanley friedman

    I have not gone thru all the comments,but I am puzzled that Senator Rubio never had a bar mitzvah or a haj to Mecca.Not enough Jewish or muslim votes in Florida ?

    February 23, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  17. aubrie

    Sounds like he was one of the few that actually used his brain, and through reasoning and discernment, figured out it was all conviluted B.S.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  18. jorge sannchez

    Rubio is neither hispanic or Catholic. He is "Tea Party". Republicans who think he will appeal to the hispanic vote are dead wrong.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Ian

      Wrong. He's hispanic, and because of that, hispanics will vote for him. They don't need any other reason. The same reason Los Angeles always has Mexican mayors and Obama has a 90% satisfaction rate with blacks. Blacks vote for blacks, whites for whties, gays for gays ect. ect.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Pedro

      I'm latino and there's no way I'll vote for Rubio, no matter what position he's striving for. Es un mentiroso y está medio tostao (loco).

      February 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Beatrix Kiddo

      Absolutely wrong, Ian. Hispanics don't support Hispanic politicians who work against their interests. Rubio is considered a turncoat for his anti-immigration stance, not to mention his false stories about his "exile" parents. Rubio's parents were economic refugees, just like the Mexicans that Rubio wants to deport.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • texgirl2762

      I'm Hispanic, and although Rubio would not be my first choice, I'd vote for him over any Democrat on any given day.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Reggie from LA

      Ian, that's because the majority of blacks are Democratic and believe (rightfully so) that Obama is for ALL Americans.
      Ian, do you remember who Obama was running against? McCain and Palin.
      Ian, do you think it wise that someone vote for a candidate with Palin on the ticket? Really? Like who, Ian? You? A scientist?
      Ian, Republicans don't show much interest in minorities until election time.
      Ian, does the GOP stand tall for ALL Americans? There's your lesson. Any questions?

      February 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • justsane

      ian, you are an idiot. while there is currently a hispanic mayor in los angeles, the only other hispanic mayor, José Cristóbal Aguilar, served from 1866 – 1868. that would be 137 years of mostly white, anglo-saxon mayors, with a 20-year break when tom brady, the only african-american mayor served his historic term from 1973-1993.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  19. Cindy

    You cannot believe a thing this man says. He also holds his wet finger to the wind to see which way the wind is blowing. He wants to be Romney's VP. But when he made up that story about being refuges from Castro, and later we found out it was a lie, he was showing his true self.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  20. Bobby

    You mean brainwashed, weak-minded, ignorant nutjob to brainwashed, weak-minded, ignorant nutjob to brainwashed, weak-minded, ignorant nutjob to brainwashed, weak-minded, ignorant nutjob to brainwashed, weak-minded, ignorant nutjob. It's all the same to me.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:11 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.