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. Joe

    He will be a perfect fit for Mittens as Rubio is already starting to get good a Flip Flopping himself.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  2. Karl

    Oh my, isn't that a convenient religious story for votes. Covers to whole spectrum. A little TOO convenient? Like his refugee story? Don't trust him as far as I can spit.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  3. David

    To Fallacy Spotting. My argument is quite simple. First, I would differentiate between religion and God. To often in these discussions they are considered synonymous. Religion is an organized effort to find God and is not God Himself. This, I believe address your claim of a smokescreen fallacy. I don't believe the straw man fallacy is relevant either. I am not attempting to attribute or twist any argument posted here.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  4. Indyswimmer66

    Gee... I'm not hearing any of the snide comments coming from the right (e.g., Santorum, Graham, etc.)... "well, if he says he's a Christian..."

    February 24, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  5. Indyswimmer66

    This guy has trouble making up his mind!

    February 24, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  6. Marek

    On one hand, the quest for a spiritual foundation is a twisting path through life...
    ... on the other hand, this is a timely incident to hype his autobiography in time to rouse interest in the upcoming election season. Even though he still has fours left in his term he nneds to get inside the minds of the voters during this election cycle, which for him is the first step to the next gneral election in 2016. Not to mention that he is way too young to be writing his bio!

    February 24, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  7. mannny

    Who cares?

    February 24, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  8. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    If it worked, we wouldn't need doctors.

    February 24, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  9. David

    For those of you who disparage faith it is wise to remember that science cannot explain many things. Science cannot explain consciousness. It cannot explain morality. It can't even explain why we exist. Although science can state a great deal about what followed after the big bang, it cannot in fact explain how "something" (the energy of the universe compressed into a volume the size of a golf ball) arose from nothing beforehand.

    February 24, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • think for yourself

      Science can't explain everything. That doesn't give any amount of validity to religion. I guess morality is beLIEving that your religion is right and condemning everyone else to burn forever.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by David is an instance of a Straw Man fallacy and presents a Smokescreen.


      February 24, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • The REAL Truth...

      @David – I think you missed the point. Comments here are not about disparaging "faith" – that's the fundamental of any religion – it's about each religion being "the religion", about the belief that person (or persons) who wrote the books are infallible and that scholars who interpret them do so accurately. The fact that Rubio has switched so many times will not go over with the religious right (the zealots). Match that up with the current crop of candidates "religion" based attacks/jabs and it's obvious to whom they are catering. Centrists of either party are cringing in disbelief at the attention and focus that the "fringe" is getting.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Primewonk

      David wrote, " Science cannot explain consciousness. It cannot explain morality. It can't even explain why we exist. Although science can state a great deal about what followed after the big bang, it cannot in fact explain how "something" (the energy of the universe compressed into a volume the size of a golf ball) arose from nothing beforehand."

      If you come up with a relevant search string to query PubMed on the evolution of consciousness, you get close to 500 articles. If you alter the query to look at the evolution of morality, you get another 350 articles.

      Why are you claiming that prior to the initial expansion of the singularity, everything came from nothing?

      You seem to be making a large number of claims about science that are blatant lies. Why is that?

      February 24, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  10. momoya

    This guy just doesn't go to another church down the road when the pastor doesn't tickle his ears just right; he switches to a different religion! Talk about a buffet style christian!! Let's see, I'll take christ on a cross, I'll leave the doctrine of grace–it's too chewy, and.... I'll have a side of "whatever a man sows...". Hmmm... what's that tasty dish over there on the Mormon bar?... I think I've got a corner free on this plate...

    February 24, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  11. Kurt

    Well, having been through a few Christian religions, I hope he is at least open-minded. Mormons, Catholics, Baptists, etc have pretty good teachings, from what I know. It's sad that him having been a Mormon for a few years when he was a child is newsworthy enough for him to be considered more likely or less likely to further his political career (depending on who you ask).

    February 24, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  12. halbert

    Why should I give a rat's ass about his "journey?" It's none of my business, and it should be kept out of our politics. Pray to whomever you want, but leave me alone!

    February 24, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Al

      He's a Republican. If he's going to make it as a Republican politician then he has to play the religion game.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  13. GIJoe

    He's a serial liar.

    February 24, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  14. Fact Validates Faith

    The only reason hispanics flock to the LDS is because of their focus on families. Once you get through the deception and their crazy no-fact doctrine based on book where it's history has been proven false due to the lack of DNA and Archeological evidence that does not support the BOOK OF MORMON, I am glad this guy was intelligent enough to leave.

    February 24, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • JF

      Yes he left one fairy tale book for another.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • durundal

      I fail to see how going to catholicism suddenly makes his fairy tale book based on no facts suddenly true.....oh wait more hypocrisy on the playground because religions cant stand the fact that none of them could be right, or that theirs might not be better than their neighbors. You all should be ashamed of yourself, ruining what could have been a good moral allegory to turn it into a pompous backwards powerhouse for the evolutionary challenged

      February 24, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  15. Reality

    Dear Marco,

    Before your next change of religion, consider the following:

    . JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

    February 24, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • JJ

      And the hardest part of all of this to believe is that He loves You anyway.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Troy

      Over 90% of this country would agree with me that reliance on our 5 senses (empericism) can only partially describe our reality. Those who believe that miracles can and have happened–those who believe in spiritual feelings that cannot be proven–those who believe that faith leads to goodness in humanity are not insane, you just say they are. These people are catholic, muslim, jewish, mormon, protestant, hindu, budist, and more. They are most of us. You cannot prove to us which of these beliefs are true or untrue because you expect us to use empericism only as our guide.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Thinking man

      Yet the first Christians of this time you're refering to were just common people. They had witness something so momentous, so extraordinary that when the authorities threatened with them death if they didn't shut up about Jesus Christ, they accepted death without fear.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • TR6

      @ Thinking man:” They had witness something so momentous, so extraordinary that when the authorities threatened with them death if they didn't shut up about Jesus Christ, they accepted death without fear.”

      Google “David Koresh” and “Branch Dividians” 83 of them chose to burn to death rather than abandon their Christ.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Reality

      From p. 3:

      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 white-board notes:

      "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."

      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,


      "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 12:33 pm |
  16. Pitdownman

    Are Repubs only Catholic or Mormon?

    February 24, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  17. susan

    I beg of you to look at his list of accomplishments. You will see upon inspection, that he has NONE. His religion should not matter, but rather his ability to get things done. He's been in the legislature 1 yr. 2 mo. WoW!

    February 24, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Moe

      Hey Sussan, where were you when Obama was running for President. What were his accomplishments? Exactly.....

      February 24, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Heard he made a "mean" potato salad at a few community picnics and block parties.

      Sorry Dems, when Obama was elected the requirement for previous experience went right out the window.... "if" you believe that Obama is doing a good job as the President.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 24, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Appalled

      You have that backwards: It is Religion that is not healthy for anyone. They leave a twisted mind and our kids should not be subjected to that nonsense!

      February 24, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • durundal

      can you even define atheism? Are you talking about the religious version? Or are you referencing the sociological form that has explained how mythology and society developed together? Do you even know the difference?

      didnt think so, another dim bulb out of the box and looking to troll

      February 24, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  19. jorge

    Here in South Florida we have a spanish verse for him: "Rubio es Que? Ni sabe el". Translated: Rubio is what? Not even he knows. DId you know there are no illegal Cuban immigrants in America? That's because of a special immigration law that allows them to stay in USA even if they arrive illegally. And they have a custom made fast-track to residency. Thanks to the Republicans. So Rubio would deport illegal hispanic immigrants but keep the Cubans that arrived here illegally. Don't count on the Hispanic vote. If the press continue to shine a light on him, his political career will implode.

    February 24, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  20. Stuck in the Middle

    Religion, the world's best tool for controlling weak minds...

    February 24, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Maff

      Religion, maybe. Belief in God, no. You have to have a strong mind. Even religion requires great discipline over your mind and body. you have to be strong enough to go against your own nature.
      While those who are no religious, and do not believe in God, are able to govern themselves and adhere to their own mix of self justified impulses and moral discretion...to some degree. Much of what they think and do is still govern by society and culture
      So its a stretch to call anyone weak minded, as if you are not. If you take God out of it, we are all just killing time with whatever we choose to do. It does not make you smarter because you believe something does not exist.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Interesting. Folks can not just disagree or hold different views, they must have "weak minds" if they do not look, believe, and sound the same. That is a well bad way to view society and really makes you no different that old Bin Laden tapes calling those who do not follow Islam in the same manner and fashion as him .."infidels".

      Is this narrow view of society the thing you wish to share with the Bin Laden, the Pat Robertsons, and others who can not see a world of co-existance? While the views are different... extreme Atheism, extreme Muslim and extreme Christianity, at the core it will always be the view of intolerance.

      While I am a Christian, in the year and a half here I will say that there are extreme Atheist that I have been blessed to meet and have meaningful dialogue here and there have been ubber Christians that I feel cursed that I have crossed paths with.

      If you are stuck in the Middle and you find it prudent to say that one side is weak minded.... then how are you truly in the "middle"? In the Middle, hour and respect finds more of a home.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:09 am |
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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.