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. Texas Doc

    I heard Santorum dressed his dead kid up like the baby Jesus and made his other kids pray to it.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Youre Dumb

      Have a source for that or are you just making up lies to spread your own BS propaganda?

      I thought so....scrub

      February 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • MaryM

      YD, do your research. He did bring his dead baby home .

      February 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • susan

      This is over the line. Santorum makes me ill, but statements like this have no place for such trashy statements.

      February 24, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  2. Bob

    Now, theres a flip-flopper for ya!

    February 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  3. Jim

    Sen. Rubio was once a Mormom – CNN how long you going to leave the typo spelling Mormon (MOM) at the end?

    February 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  4. Ronald Reganzo

    Rick Santorum, he's the man
    He can win it ,yes he can !
    President Rick Santorum
    The rest is history

    February 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  5. Sanity

    And Harry Reid was Mormon of the Year in 2009. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) is a Mormon, too. Wonder why Democrats don't ever talk about that?

    February 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Otherguy

      Lol- Mormon of the year? Hahaha- according to whom? There is no "Mormon of the year". Good point, though- it's funny to me how there is always a story about the Jewish vote or whatnot, and only recently about Mormons... when Jews and Mormons make up the same percentage of the US population.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Ronald Reganzo

      The centerfolds went south on them.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Perhaps because it's the Evangelical right, not the Democrats, who seems to really care.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Sanity

      OtherGuy, yes, Mormon of the Year 2009 (Romney was named in 2008). It is given yearly by Mormon publication "Times and Seasons". You can apologize now.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • skarphace

      Sanity: why don't Democrats talk about it? Because Democrats don't vote based on religion. Only the Teavangelists do. As long as you don't let your policy be decided based on your religion, you are following the Const itution.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • skarphace

      That was the offending word? "Const itution'"? You can't say Const itution on these boards? Crazy.

      By the way, that rules out Santorum, who's policy would definitely be based on not just his religion, but his extreme faction of his religion. Santorum should have been disqualified from running for POTUS the moment he said, and I quote, "our civil laws should be based on 'Gods Law'".

      February 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  6. Jim

    What is a Mormom CNN? Huge typo in your headline, you guys are idiots.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  7. svscnn

    Just another figment of his imagination – like his family "fleeing" Castro's Cuba before Castro was even in power.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • terre08

      Yeah that was a good one.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  8. Texas Doc

    So when he drops acid, who does he see? Joseph Smith? Jerry Falwell?

    February 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  9. augenblick

    A crypto Mormon ! Whoa !

    February 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  10. keeth

    So that's where he learned to lie about the story of his family coming to America from Cuba.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  11. 4thegood

    Just lucky for him that he didn't go from Islam to Catholic, back to Islam to Baptist and to Jewish. Mixing things up like that in Islam is considered apostacy and punishible by death. Mr. Stone. Your son is a foolish idiot.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Bob

      Apostacy – dude are you serious?? What century are you from??

      February 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • terre08

      It's the same with christianity, death by stoning. Who do you think the muslims got their holy book from?

      February 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Steve O


      February 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • just sayin

      Like? I love the changes prayer brings

      February 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • terre08

      Prayers are for children, any adults who actually think they can pray to a god who is a sadist egomaniac are lost.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  13. beforus

    Sure I would not believe one thing he says. At least he can never be president.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  14. beforus

    Sure was this after he was from he lied about his family and to his own people. I guess he is a normal politician. Mormon styyyyyle.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  15. Texas Doc

    So does he still qualify for a posthumus/proxy baptism?

    February 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Otherguy

      Haha- you can ask Paul (New Testament Paul) when you meet him. He taught about it (check your Bible). =)

      February 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  16. Me

    This takes him off a Romney/Rubio ticket. Which is good because he's a phony.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  17. Lewis Keseberg

    Rubio just wants to have his jesus-flesh and eat it, too.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Steve O

      That. Was. Awesome.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  18. jimtanker

    The Big Bang for beginners: http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2012/02/the_big_bang_for_beginners.php

    I know that most of you thumpers out there won’t take the time to read it but that’s OK. You probably wouldn’t understand it anyway. It’s written at a 10th grade reading level.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • jimtanker - the ORIGINAL P00P Machine

      You're right, I only have a 9th grade reading level. That's why I rely on the wonderful intelligence of the random CNN commentor. How did you get so smart?

      February 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  19. William Demuth

    Bye Bye VP Nomination

    Two Mormons? The Evangelicals would have a MELTDOWN.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  20. jimtanker

    Why not? They're the same garbage anyway.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:54 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.