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. Kwesoe

    It's hard to find your perfect self in America. You're always on the pendulum, swinging back and forth; Catholic to Mormon, Catholic to Baptist; Athiest to Catholic; Animist to Voodoo.... all part of the American Dream. Wake up Rubio.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  2. chainyanker

    'When he is in Miami, Rubio attends St. Louis Catholic Church and Christ Fellowship, a Southern Baptist multisite church with 8,000 regular attendees.' Why doesn't he attend a local mosque too, gotta cover more bets you know. Any Buddhist temples in Miami?

    February 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  3. justsayin'

    well...I was a Mormon when Mormon wasn't cool.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • chainyanker

      So what are you now? Moslem? Jew? Buddhist, Hindu, or Rain God worshipper like Michelle Bachmann?

      February 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  4. Bob

    Why are Republicans always religious freaks?

    February 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Because that's what their handlers tell them will get them the most votes.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • foxfire

      Because they have no substance......how can your discuss someone with a limited mind.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • chainyanker


      February 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • A Miller

      ...because "God" tells them what to do...remember, "God" told Michele Bachmann to marry her husband...they can't make decisions on their own, so they say that "God" instructs them...as for Rubio, if you are a "practicing" Catholic, you don't have time to be a "part-time Baptist"...pick one and stick with it! Also, good catch with the "Castro escapee parents"...makes for a much more dramatic family background...but shows how he can't be trusted!

      February 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  5. Ronald Reganzo

    With religious stability like that you are looking at a high cabinet post but not vp. It looks like a Santorum/Christie ticket with Sarah Palin either at Education or State.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • J.W

      OMG Sarah Palin in anything would be scary, but especially education or state would be terrible.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • foxfire

      This guy is looking for a good meal ticket with little work...let him get a real job or stand in the unemployment line line that his party creather several years ago(George W. Bush).

      February 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Margaret

      Who is going to be the new religion tzar?

      February 24, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  6. Tak

    Well is these aren't flip-flops I don't know what one is.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  7. SensibleJoe

    The Vatican sure wouldn't smile on Rubio's splitting church time between Roman Catholicism and Baptists...

    February 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  8. chainyanker

    Hey Marco, give Islam a try, you might like it seeing as you don't seem to be satisfied with the other religions.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      Oh, I doubt it. Seeing as that he couldn't stay away from Catholicism, once he got a taste of the Jesus-blood, he was hooked.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • chainyanker

      Mohammed blood or Buddha blood may be sweeter. What's holding you up Marco, go for it, being a conservative don't you want to cover all bases, otherwise you might end up in the wrong place after you die.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • chainyanker

      Religious flip-flopper? Ever think about becoming a Hindu, they got hundreds of gods, covers a lot of bases, go for it Marco.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  9. Jim in Florida

    CNN never ran this type of article on Obama when he ran in 2008.

    CNN never questioned the teachings of the Rev Jeremiah Wright, which Obama sat and listened to for 20 years.

    CNN never questioned the influence of Islam on Obama.

    No bias? Bull

    February 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • SensibleJoe

      Actually, if you weren't lazy and would use the search function on this website, you'd find that everything you said isn't true.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • RTB

      Actually, they ran numerous articles about Rev. Wright. Where were you?

      February 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Alan

      Funny, people keep saying Obama is muslim.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Gevers

      @Jim In Florida, you must have a different CNN feed than the rest of the country. At any rate this is 2012, not 2008. The world has changed. Maybe you should travel outside of Florida sometimes.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Margaret

      If Obama were a Muslim they would stone him fro allowing his wife to dress showing her legs, arms and face. They would put a hit on him for allowing his daughters and wife to go to a Christian church and be baptized there. They would probably behead him for attending a Christian church for so many years of his life. Is Obama a Muslim, even the Muslims know he is not. He eats pork, and drinks alcohol.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  10. Pedophile Priest

    He has flip-flopped just enough to place him as Mittens's VP. Not enough foam at the mouth for a Satanorum VP. Not married enough times for GinGrinch. Too brown for Paul. That leaves Mittens. Simple process of elimination. Obama will crush(i said it) any GOP candidate anyway. Too bad he seems not much better.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  11. Tracy

    He went to the Mormon church when he was EIGHT YEARS OLD! Are you people stupid, or just plain stupid? How is this somehow disqualifying of him being a major political figure? The Senate Majority leader is a MORMON! The president of the United States is a Muslim (kinda), before he switched to being something else.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Gevers

      Tracy, calm down. It's not that serious. Whether or not he's qualified will be determined if he's chosen. We're here just political junkies sharing thoughts. >>> Love Gevers.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  12. stu

    Both are cults, one's just a lot older than the other.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  13. Jim

    STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT A MORMOM IS? CNN what is a MORMOM, I have heard of Mormon.

    Original Headline – Sen. Rubio was once a Mormom

    February 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Tin foil hats

      Yes, we heard you the first time. Thanks.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      Either a Mormon transvesti te or just simply a Mormon woman with a child or ten.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  14. Vic of New York

    Like all Right-Wing REPUGS – Rubio will be whatever religion the voters want him to be, whenever they want him to be.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • chainyanker

      He needs the Moslem vote, go for it Marco, start reading the Quran/Koran, you might like it.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  15. gerc

    When was the last time a politician's religion make a difference?

    February 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • LinSea

      Judging by the number of articles that CNN has posted lately about religion and politics, you would think that nothing else about a candidate does matter. Or at least, certain candidates.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  16. Gevers

    Does this means if Mittens/Rubie wins Warren Jeffs will be pardoned? U know, like the Haley Barbour pardons.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  17. Hank

    Wow, no telling what he will be by election time!

    February 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  18. Jim

    STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT A MORMOM IS? CNN what is a MORMOM, I have heard of Mormon.

    Original Headline – Sen. Rubio was once a Mormom

    February 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Gevers

      MORMON: A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a religion founded in the US in 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • JT


      February 23, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  19. O.T.

    CNN loves this story because it is currently emphasizing Romney's religion to subtly undermine his candidacy and help reelect Obama. This is rank religious bigotry.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Tin foil hats


      I bet if you buy in bulk they'll give you a discount.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Ronald Reganzo

      President Rick Santorum

      February 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Jim

      Sen. Rubio was once a Mormom

      Yea and if they actually could spell Mormon right it would help. What is a MORMOM CNN? LOL, you bafoons!

      February 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Gevers

      It's the Republicans that always want to talk about religion. Why shoudn't someone be proud to say which religion they're part of? You are into secrets are u? Secret society?

      February 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      Marie Osmond is a Mormom

      February 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Darth Cheney

      Methinks someone's been drinking the 'liberal media conspiracy' Kool-Aid a bit too deeply. Why not just stick to Faux News; that's more you're cup of Tea.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  20. John Smith

    @jimtanker –

    What are your beliefs, aside from being atheist? I understand that you dislike Christians, but please share your beliefs.


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

      Same question to you –

      How is atheism a belief?

      Aren't beliefs precious, life affirming, concepts?

      Where is the church of atheism?

      Why would you equate your precious religion with a concept like atheism?

      If you feel like atheism and your religion are the same thing, then religion itself has no meaning.

      What are the WRITTEN tenets of atheism? What is it's authority structure? Who controls this great religion of atheism?

      February 24, 2012 at 2:26 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.