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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. bg

    flip flop, republicans really, not them

    February 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  2. kari

    I don't know why the religion of a politician is ever necessary to even bring up in the media. I think their ability to lead and make good decisions is whats important. Religion is important inside of a church or religious community but not politics. They're two totally different subjects. I would care less if this guy was a muslim or atheist or jehovahs witness. He could be gay its ok! As long as he gets the freaking job done competently. So many competent people are pushed out of good leadership roles because they are the wrong religion. Can American media stop promoting ignorant thinking? Anyone who wouldn't vote for a leader because of religion is obvious too stupid to be allotted the right.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  3. 1954Nana

    Romney/Rubio 2012 .......... interesting combination :)

    February 23, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  4. tonyl

    Now we know why he is in love with Romney? Why Romney would like to make his VP? A closet Mormon. I wouldn't be surprise if he was also gay. But that's OK too.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  5. James Stone

    The duplicitous biased CNN...THEY'RE COMPLETELY IGNORING THE STORY ON THE CHRISTIAN PASTOR WHO'S BEEN SENTENCED TO DEATH IN IRAN BECAUSE HE WON'T CONVERT TO THEIR EVIL RELIGION. WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY WOULD DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT? CONDEMN A MAN TO DEATH, BECAUSE HE SAYS, I'M A CHRISTIAN, I'LL REMAIN ONE.
    NOTICE HOW THIS FRAUDULENT PRES. IS REMAINING SILENT. We have an anti-American President, Bummer is more like a Muslim, he defends and reveres their worthless religion, but won't defend the Religion that basically created this nation....
    OBAMA GO TO HELL!

    February 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Nare

      Interesting presentation of your "frustration". I don't believe, for a second, that you are a Christian.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • tonyl

      You need to lay off the caps. Obama will still win. I know that makes you upset. But take a chill pill.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • The REAL Truth...

      And quite honestly, who's to say their religion ISN'T any better than yours?? You think this Christian vs Muslim thing is new? There have been many wars/battles fought on religious grounds in numerous locations over the centuries, all because of responses like yours. DOI !

      February 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  6. 1954Nana

    So?????????????

    February 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  7. jorge

    Rubio is not hispanic. He is Cuban. He is Tea Party. Cubans have a "special" cushy immigration arrangement called dry foot-wet foot, available to no other immigrant. Rubio has no empathy for other latin immigrants and doesn't t want to share USA with any other latin immigrant, including the many non-communists in Cuba that suffer misery because of the embargo he supports. Hispanics would not vote for Rubio. Cubans in Cuba would not vote for Rubio (if they could). Recent arrival Cubans in South Florida would not vote for Rubio – they suffered from the embargo. Only early arrival Miami Cubans would. So go ahead, put him on the ticket. Then Obama will surely win by a landslide. For God's sake, Republicans, wake up to the Hispanic vote..

    February 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  8. James Stone

    CNN-THE CRESCENT NEWS NETWORK, ANTI-GOD, ANTI-AMERICAN...they defame anything with an "R" after it, and leave liberal nazi's alone. The story, outrageously ridiculous, since the article states Rubio was 8 years old, and HIS PARENTS ATTENDED THE CHURCH...HOW COULD AN 8 YEAR OLD CONVERT OR SAY HE WAS LDS??? ARE YOU LIBERAL MORONS, THIS STUPID, DO YOU BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ??? AT LEAST HE BELIEVES IN GOD, NOT THE FAKE ONE IN THE WHITE HOUSE.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Bob

      Are you serious? Do you even realize what you are saying here is completely off-base from what the vast majority of Christians believe?

      At least the Mormons have the decency to wait to baptize a child until they are of an age where they CAN make decisions (although it could be fairly argued that no 8 year old really ever makes a decision his/her parents would disown them for; funny that people get disowned for changing religions once they age a few more years...). I am fairly sure that there are quite a few other Christian religions which baptize infants into their religions (Catholics anyone??)

      Are you willing to agree then, by your own argument, that there is no such thing as Muslim child, a Christian child, a Buddhist child, a Taoist child, a Seventh-Day Advocate child or any other religion out there?

      Don't get me wrong; I completely agree. No child is ever able to make enough of an informed decision to determine if they wish to join a religion or not.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Nare

      Get help.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  9. King Kong Kolob

    Verily, they'll be no more room on my planet for him and his 468074 wives since he has smotten the mighty Kolob.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  10. john cougar mellencamp

    Who gives a shiite??? Is it a 6inch or a 9 inch turd???

    February 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  11. Core Republican Values

    Rubio was once a morman? As a republican with core republican values, I can no longer support Rubio since he's not a christian.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  12. b

    Hey CNN who gives a fcuk?

    February 23, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  13. alkarrk

    I thought this was interesting. Thanks!

    February 23, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  14. JT

    The Mormon church isn't the mafia. Its not like because he was once a Mormon he's always a Mormon.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Pete

      Once a Mormon, always an idiot.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • freddosaurus

      @Pete. he was a mormon from ages 8-11 which is essentially an age when he just did what his family did. don't be a hater.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  15. steve

    flip flopper

    February 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • James Stone

      Better than being a faithless idiot like yourself.
      Of course, you didn't read the article did you moron.
      It said, HIS PARENTS ATTENDED THE CHURCH..DO YOU THINK AN 8 YEAR OLD CHILD WAS MAKING RELIGIOUS DECISIONS, YOU BUFFOON.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  16. AVGPAGUY

    I agree that this is ridiculous. Not because there is no GOD – but you are free to believe that if you choose. It's ridiculous because as someone said – "at 8 years old" you do what your parents want.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  17. carly

    He covered all the bases in case he is selected as a running mate. lol. these right wingers are a joke every day.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  18. ljdr1948

    I'm sorry, but this is getting more and more ridiculous every day.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  19. 21k

    hey, at some point in his journey, he may finally find the truth, that there is no god. but until then, i'd like to see the proof that he is truly "leagal" since neither of his parents were born here. i have not seen the proof that his parents should be allowed to stay here and not deported back to cuba.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • sheila

      you are a dork and an idiot. you obviously don;t know anything about history and political asylum.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • 1954Nana

      Here is a little something for you to look up:

      Rubio was born in Miami, Florida, the second son and third child of Mario Rubio (1927–2010) and Oria Garcia (born 1931). His parents were Cubans who had emigrated to the United States in 1956 and were later naturalized as U.S. citizens in 1975.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  20. steve851

    This is one of the silliest stories ever. Beside the fact that someone's religion is irrelevant to begin with, he was a kid who had no say in the matter. Ridiculous!

    February 23, 2012 at 10:25 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.