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. NJBob

    What a crock. If he had really and honestly looked at religion, the journey he took would have end in atheism. That he is still religious is a sign of a weak mind.

    February 24, 2012 at 6:51 am |
  2. ken cherry

    A shifty little guy, isn't he. On his religions as on his family history. This is a boy who tries to be all things to all people, and right now he's trying to please rambling Romney and sanctimonious Santorum. Americans, though, will see him for what he is, as Floridians now have, to their regret.

    February 24, 2012 at 6:01 am |
  3. Nii Croffie

    No official version for the whole Church is what he means. The Bible when translated needs transliteration as well. Ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine are dead now. We only use the different versions to better our understanding of the original whereas the LDS has one official understanding.

    February 24, 2012 at 5:11 am |
    • NoTags

      The LDS Church does have one "official translation" which is decided solely by the president of the LDS Church. The problem with this is a subsequent president of the Church can change his "translation" and that "translation" is adopted by the Church.

      In Paul's letter to the Christians of Galatia, i.e. Galatians 1:8-9 (KJV) Paul stated; "(8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

      (9) As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

      The president of the LDS Church can "translate" scripture to suit his personal beliefs which can be directly contrary to scripture and must be accepted by LDS Church Members. This puts the president of the LDS Church in a higher position than the word of God.

      February 24, 2012 at 6:14 am |
  4. john cougar mellencamp


    February 24, 2012 at 4:35 am |
  5. bull

    Rubio seems a very good politician because he can spin facts to fit his political needs whenever necessary ...

    February 24, 2012 at 3:23 am |
  6. WatchTHEGODMAKERSonyoutube

    Wow, there goes his career. 42% of Americans would not be comfortable with a Mormon in office according to publicreligion.org. CNN has shown similar polls in the past. It's one thing to be a LDSer, but quite another for them to claim to be Christians. The doctrine is vastly different, and clearly incompatible. Book of Mormon has been altered over 1,000 times since inception. OOOps, not exactly inspired by God. The Bible says a prophet must be accurate 100% of the time or he is a fake... OOops. Joe Smith failed that one. Archealogical evidence is lacking as well. but, i digress...

    February 24, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Sam007

      You say the book of Mormon has been altered 1000 times... wow, where do you get this and other facts from? Obviously your opinion has no credibility.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • Golden Number

      Please tell me you don't believe in the Bible. The Bible doesn't have just a 1000 changes, it has 1000s of manuscripts that all differ from one another. Compared to the ocean of changes in the Bible, any changes in the Book of Mormon are a single drop of water in comparison.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • skytag

      You are misinformed. Mormonism is a Christian religion. Lots of Mormons are converts from other Christian religions and they'll tell you Mormonism is also Christian. Who the hell are you to decide who is and isn't Christian?

      February 24, 2012 at 5:32 am |
    • WatchTHEGODMAKERSonyoutube

      The Bible determines who is a Christian and a follower of Christ, the one and only God (no it does not say you too can become a "god" of your own planet. no holy underwear, etc...). The Bible is not only best selling book of all time, it continues to be one of the most historically accurate books in history, and is archeologically verified over, and over, and over again... Just last year, they found yet another specific from the New Testiment. whereas, the Book of mormon was just recently written in the United States. Who is going to take that seriously.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • WatchTHEGODMAKERSonyoutube


      February 24, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Know What


      The Bible is a compilation of stories from the culture of the ancient Middle Eastern Hebrews. It contains *some* verified history of their culture, and of course *some* practical wisdom for beneficial human behavior; but, in the main, it simply relates the myths, legends, superst'itions and fantasies of that primitive culture.

      There is not a shred of verified evidence for the supernatural beings or events told about in that book.

      The Book of Mormon simply played off of above text, and added a huge serving of additional fantasy.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  7. CarrotCakeMan

    So he's flip-lopper like Ronmey, huh? No, thanks!

    February 24, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  8. OrangeW3dge

    Another sky pilot senator? It's getting pretty creepy in America.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  9. Sirned

    Big time damage control needs to be done since Rubio uses his Christian faith often in his politics. If Rubio feels religion is important then we need to know first of all why hasn't he taken his name off the Morman register. Second why does he call himself Catholic and go to a Baptist Church... Being Catholic I can tell you that ain't done if you are really Catholic...

    February 24, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • OrangeW3dge

      covering all the bases? maybe he should go for Judaism and Islam

      February 24, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  10. Lee

    Just another particularly American whacko cult – Mormonism as well as modern-day Republicanism.

    Both rest upon Fraud and con artists.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      And this is different from, say, the RCC, how?

      February 24, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Lee

      Maybe not so much Lewis, but at least the RCC's origins are farther back in time so the fraud is not so easily proven.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      Well, the wacko part isn't so hard. It's tough to complain about magic underwear being weird when you've got a mouthfull of jesus-meat.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:36 am |
  11. Atlas7

    Mormon or not, his ears are way too big to be President.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • WatchTHEGODMAKERSonyoutube

      Obama's ears trump all others, yet he got elected. 🙂

      February 24, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  12. Olaf Big

    It sounds to me like his parents were rather opportunistic in their church affiliation, and chose what suited the needs of the moment best. Aside from that, it is stupid to speculate that Romney will be more inclined to seek Rubio's support because he was mormon for two years as a child. And what's that nonsense about the journey of faith? There is no journey, just expediency. If you are running for office in Florida and seek the support of Cuban immigrants, you got to be a Catholic. If you live in Nevada, being LDS member is more helpful. That's all

    February 24, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  13. Duane

    He is a seeker. I am a seeker, too. I have often been interested in certain beliefs religions and, when I was younger, would jump in too soon. I am still seeking a higher understanding and I study and ponder all the issues of life but NOW I do not join up. I am a seeker/spectator! There is nothing wrong with that.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      Well, the problem with not signing up, at least with the Catholics, is that you don't get to partake of the Jesus blood. So yeah, you can miss out if you don't sign up.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Satan

      Nothing, Duane (numbskull), that's the point of the story. Now go back to bed.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Sirned

      If Rubio is a seeker he can not be a true born again Chritian and the crazy religious nuts in the Republican party will not feel he is one of them...That is his political challenge and it ain't gonna be pretty...Those pesky religious litmus tests .....

      February 24, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Mirosal

      And religious litmus tests are illegal under consti'tutional law. Read Article (NOT amendment) Six. So why do they feel the need to break the law to gain office? Don't most of them break the law AFTER they get into office?

      February 24, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • skytag

      The fact that you're seeking something is no proof it exists.

      February 24, 2012 at 5:34 am |
  14. TexMan

    For a few campaign contribution dollars Republicans will be anyone / thing you pay them to be.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  15. joe

    Why is this a story? Why isn't the headline Rubio was an evangelical? or a Catholic? Bigotry, CNN.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Satan

      What's your point, joe? Take your meds and be more like Sgt RayRay below.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • WatchTHEGODMAKERSonyoutube

      because LDS is an ocult.... duh.....

      February 24, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  16. Margaret

    Gee I wonder if he can become a Muslim, then a Jew? Maybe a Budhist or a Wiccan. Quite truthfully who care.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:54 am |

    WHO GIVES A S#!T!!!!

    February 24, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Sirned

      Right wing Christians...

      February 24, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Asherah Kuanyin Ganesha Adonai Zeus

      Right wing Christians have better things to worry about, such as the dilapidation of their churches and their charity work and their families. What's the point of panty wadding over what churches Mr. So and so goes to?

      February 24, 2012 at 3:33 am |
  18. overitall

    Who cares what someone else choose for him when he was 8? Most of us still believed that it was possible to become a super hero at that age. Must have been a slow news day if that had to drag this up.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      Yup, and that, my friend, is the nonsensical nature of religion. Most religious people simply believe whatever their parents picked for them when they were 8. And those parents believe what the grandparents picked for them when they were 8. And so on, and so on, for 2000 years.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  19. RobN

    He was 8 years old. It's not a religious journey when you're 8; it's putting on your church clothes and going wherever mom and dad drive you. That this is even reported as if it's some big lie is astounding. Interesting that CNN spent a year refusing to cover the Edwards story and yet they're johnny on the spot when it comes to the religion of an 8 year old.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      Right. Because the media doesn't want to cover scandals with Democrats. Because those just don't sell magazines. How again did we find out about Bill Clinton and John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer and all the other liberals that had affairs? It gets reported on, you moron!

      February 24, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Satan

      Yeah, you'll be b1tching about the media for reporting Rubio's lying about his family fleeing Castro's regime in Cuba. Stay with Fox and Friends ,your comfort zone, air head.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • RobN

      @Nate, CNN held the Edwards story for over a year. The National Enquirer broke the story and only then did the general media cover it. I do love the way libs go straight to calling names when they've got nothing else to rely on. So typical, so boring.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  20. Terry

    Face it, politicians go where the votes are. If we suddenly had thousands of carnivals across the country, politicians would be out buying clown suits. Hispanics and Latinos are too smart to allow the Republicans to promise a new world, while continuing to create state laws that brand them as outsiders who sneak into the country after dark. Someday, Hispanics and Latinos will be the majority voting block. Then we will see politicians kissing a different ring.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Asherah Kuanyin Ganesha Adonai Zeus

      when that day comes, I hope that English still remains as at least one of the languages government communicates in; it's still a bit tough for us anglophones to decipher Spanish sometimes.

      February 24, 2012 at 3:23 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
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.