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. Libtard

    I wish Sarah Palin would run, she's the only one who can save this country.

    Palin 2012!!!!

    February 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • LDS_Democrat

      Libtard, remember this – only Jesus saves! Sarah Palin couldn't even save her own wacky tacky political career.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  2. volsocal

    Politically biased authors Marrapodi and Killough are testing the waters to see what sticks in an effort to assassinate Rubio's character. His parents put him in a Morman church when he was 8. So, what? Typical liberal progressive red herring BS.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • plot

      Can't deny Rubio has lied or altered his past to fit the whims of the voters he seeks.

      Come ON! Why is he attending a Baptist church in Florida? Personal belief has nothing to do with it. He wants them votes!

      February 23, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • LDS_Democrat

      Plot, that's a good point about Rubio's spin on history. He's been called out on his claim that his family came over as a direct result of the Jan. 1, 1959 march into La Habana by the 26th of July movement... the Cuban Revolution. They didn't. They came over in 1956; three years before the Revolution. Talk about double speak and re-writing history. He's just a tool of the imperialist lackeys in the GOP and their running dogs trying to cull the Hispanic vote. They get about 10% of the total Hispanic vote with this kid if that much. The other 90%+ of Hispanics will go with the Democrats.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • plot

      If Rubio's parents left before Castro, they left because of Baptista – who was a murdering SOB minion of the US. Is Rubio going to address the real reasons his parents left? Not because of the dictator Castro, but the dictator before him that danced for the US dollar?

      February 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • volsocal

      Plot – Rubio gets votes because of his ideas, demeanor, and voting record. It is Obama that capitalizes (with help from the press) on lies.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • plot

      cow crap in the pasture! Rubio has tailored his message and his history for voter "Awwww!" appeal, multiple times.

      If it were only his message that mattered, Rubio wouldn't attend multiple churches for votes, wouldn't twist his personal and familial history to suit his needs, wouldn't hide himself behind numerous postures rather than positions.

      We are discussing Rubio, right? Not Obama? Move onto an Obama article to make your case against him.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  3. Mrs.Dash

    Very well said, Pat.

    "Pat said [to Debwards]:

    You probably don't understand the bigotry agaiinst this religion because you don't know the true history of the mormon church. Make it a library project.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:10 pm"

    6:25P 02.23.12

    February 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  4. JohnRJohnson

    This is one confused puppy. How do you go from Mormon to Catholic to Baptist? Next, it'll be Scientology.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • JoeSchmoe213

      Sounds like the libs are afraid of this guy becoming the VP candidate.... how this is even a story is ridiculous.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  5. Andrew Friet

    Wait for it.......

    February 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  6. george S

    This is not the first time Rubio has conveniently sculpted his background and resume to market himself politically. Like Romney.....I simply don't trust him

    February 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  7. Lila

    I think he's been going to Evangelical services recently and got married in a Catholic church so. Catholic-Mormon-Catholic-Baptist-Catholic-Evangelical?

    February 23, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  8. brian

    Republican flip-flopping at its very best...

    February 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  9. Lar S

    We are the laughing stock of the rest of the western world. The founders of this country were right. Pretty soon, maybe even this year, no person will qualify because of his past or present religious affiliation. This emphasis on one particular christian belief will, for instance, make any Jewish person automatically ineligible for higher office. Is this type of country we really want?

    February 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Scerred

      A Jew would atleast be Jew enough to balance our budget, shlt theyd prob make us profitable lol.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  10. fsmgroupie

    I wonder if he still wears the magical mormon underwear.

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

      ugghhh. That joke is way beyond worn out, not to mention bigotry at its worst.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • plot

      Really? Joking about The Holey Garments is "bigotry at it's worst? I'd say stuffing people and hauling them off to death camps based on their religion might be a tad worse. That's just me.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • DR

      I'm sure he wears it with his magical Roman torture device necklace.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  11. Debwards

    UG! Because Rubio belonged to the LDS church that would give more of an "in" to be VP.. are you kidding me??? I can't believe the religious bigotry that still exists around this religion. Would he have more of an "in" with Gingrich and Santorum because they are all Catholic? I think not. Guess what Mormons don't only work and interact with other Mormons. If Rubio was asked to be Romney's running mate it would be because he qualified for the job not because he once attended a Mormon congregation!!!

    February 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Pat

      You probably don't understand the bigotry agaiinst this religion because you don't know the true history of the mormon church. Make it a library project.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  12. Zoomie

    At least he became a Christian instead of a Mormon.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      Yup, it's much more acceptable to eat flesh than to wear super-special underwear.

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

      Mormons are Christians. Before you comment on a certain religion you should research it.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Aron Martinez

      Mormons are Christians.... the official name of the Mormon church is The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints. We believe in Christ!

      February 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • plot

      How are Mormons Xtian when they don't believe in the divinity of Jesus?

      How are the Mormons Xtian when they believe they are the REAL ancestors of the Jewish tribes and call all Christians the Gentiles, as opposed to themselves and the Jews who are god's chosen people?

      How are the Mormons Xtian when they believe their god has thousands of spiritual wives and Jesus is just one of his many sons?

      All legit questions I'd LOVE a real Mormon to answer.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • LinSea

      @Plot, none of what you claim Mormons believe is accurate. Your questions are therefore NOT 'legit.' Have you ever asked a practicing Mormon what he or she believes? A lot of your claims are the kind of lies I hear from people who either hate Mormons or who don't bother to honestly find out what we believe, so they misunderstand or twist our beliefs to suit themselves.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • jm17

      @plot: Mormons DO believe in the divinity of Christ, no one claims to be a direct descendant of Abraham any more than you are likely to be, and they believe that Jesus was God's first Son and only begotten in the flesh but that we are all children of God. Sorry for the inconvenience. Instead of looking for faults and random opinions that LDS church leaders said a hundred years ago, pay attention to the doctrines that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints slaps its name onto. Conspiracy theories exist. But you don't see mormons quoting funny stuff that protestant leaders said in the 1800s, nor is anyone trying to prove that P2 actually rules the Vatican... can't we all just get along and unite our faith in Christ? Then maybe we could fulfill our duty as citizens and discuss which candidates are most fit for their positions.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • plot

      LinSea, I have asked Mormons. These are not the kind of questions they seem to like answering. I learned most of the Mormon cosmology from ex-Mormons who included quotes from text and gospel. Some of it was dated, granted, and the church has since moved on from some of it's creepier aspects, but not all.

      BTW, I don't single out the LDS. I'm an equal opportunity offender against all religion with any aspect that claims special salvation for the faithful.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • plot

      jm17, with Mormons STILL baptizing dead people who never wanted to be Mormon or introduced to LDS in their lifetimes, there still exists something very tacky and creepy about the LDS church. What, not enough living converts for you?

      As for getting behind Christ and walking together, well, that gave us George Bush which gave us a destroyed economy, unnecessary wars, and deeply divided country. He was the Christian's boy! They got him elected, the man who talked to god daily.

      Maybe uniting in Christ isn't such a good voting criteria.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • snt2

      @plot: How are you Christian when you keep X'ing out Christ's name? Just because you say it, or your pastor says it does not make it true. A Christian is someone who tries to follow Christ and live His teachings. Mormon's strive to do just that...

      February 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • plot


      Force of habit, the Xtian thing. When posting on boards with character limits, I used many abbreviations. Some stick. Doesn't matter, I'm not Xtian, or Jew, or anything else you would recognize or could name. Yes, I attend churches because theology is fascinating. I will not attend churches that damn anyone or judge others or create gods that look like angry, hostile, judgey, psychotic people.

      Okay, so Mormons try to live Christ's teachings, this is your contention. Here's my observation – Mormons will say lots of things and do another. They call themselves Xtian because it's convenient for the moment, but would call themselves the inheritors of the modern Israel the next while calling all other Xtians the Gentiles.

      Did they outlaw polygamy? With 50-100k polygamists living in Utah freely and claiming to be Mormons, maybe not. How about that polygamous god of the LDS with thousands of spiritual wives? What's his role in all this?

      Did they stop baptizing Jews in the 1970's? 1980's? 1990's? 2000's? like they promised every single time? Nope.

      Did they really accept African American members because of a revelation or because they were catching hell? How many preistholders are black? Again, maybe one thing was said for the outside world while internally the situation remained the same.

      Is Mitt Romney's donation of millions of dollars of Pepsi stock really going to a charity? Or is it part of a war chest to keep LDS running?

      And finally, when a religion decides to take an active role in a political position, Prop 8, and demand it's members give money to campaigns to support a political agenda, shouldn't they lose their tax exempt status? It's happened to many Protestant churches, for the forcing of a political agenda. How did the LDS pull that off?

      February 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  13. scott

    Donny Psmond is a Mormon but was once a cartoon...just might to check that out, too.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  14. LDS_Democrat

    Marco Rubio was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1979 when he was 8? Then he left The Church and became a re-cycled Catholic? By LDS doctrine and definition he apostatized from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! Why should Romney and his mittens even want to consider Rubio as a potential presidential running mate seeing that he repudiated The Church by joining another one? Romney and his LDS consorts would be consorting with apostates if Rubio was chosen as running mate, but then again when hasn't Romney dragged himself along the bottom of the pit just to pick up a few votes? All the more reason why this year's collection of fauna in the GOP doesn't have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting into the Oval Office in 2012 except as tourists. They are a collection of walking, talking, living, breathing testimony to the dangers of ideological inbreeding and flavor-of-the-month-do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-elected renegade politics.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Kendell

      I'm Mormon. I know plenty of people who have left the church for various reasons. I'm still their friend, still their family member, still do business with them, etc. I see no problem in Romney running with a former member of the church.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Debwards

      Leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, does not mean you apostatized. It means you left the church and started going to another, therefore making you an inactive member of the LDS church.
      On another note... I see that religious bigotry is alive and well. Are you racist too, or just a religious bigot?

      February 23, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • LDS_Democrat

      Debwards, in regards to your questions or concerns about my religious tolerance for others is – I am neither racist nor bigoted. I was born in Cuba, the same place as Rubio's parents. In addition, anyone leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, means that they apostatized. That is the definition of apostasy – The word derives from Greek ἀποστασία (apostasia), meaning a defection or revolt, from ἀπό, apo, "away, apart", στάσις, stasis, "stand", "standing". What is relevant in this discussion is whether or not Rubio's decision to keep switching religious affiliation is an issue. For most people in the general population it probably is not. For the GOP, it's an issue with the so-called 'Southern Evangelicals' who might have a problem dealing with it, along with Romney's association with the LDS Church.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • LinSea

      I'm a Mormon and I don't have an issue with this. Everyone has the right to worship how they choose. This was the Senator's personal choice and it's between him and God, not anyone else.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  15. Jake

    I was raised Evangelical, and now I am a Liberal Democrat. I'm pretty sure it's ONLY the Evangelicals that would have a problem with Rubio being raised a Mormon.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • joe

      I almost agree, except for making the point that plenty of dems love the "magic underwear" joke, or non-joke.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  16. scott

    I'm a Mormon...and this story is a waste of space. It sounds more like a boy who has adults dragging him from one religion to another. Someone explain how this impacts our lives.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Zoomie

      America has problems with people who are not Christians.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • joe

      Zoomie, what about Jews? or Muslims? Do Americans have problems with them? Then something is wrong with Americans. But that's beside the point, Mormons follow Christ and are therefore Christians.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  17. MaryM

    Carolyn, Rubio is also a liar. does lying have anything to do with ethics, morality or integrity?

    February 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  18. Reality

    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 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • ......

      reality does not think reality uses copy paste garbage hit report abuse on all of it.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  19. elbeau

    The dude's been through one religion after another...so why is the one he was in from ages 8 through 11 the headline and focus of the article? Because Mitt will hypothetically look at his ex-mormonism as a little kid as a job qualifier? He's been Catholic more times than he's been Mormon, shouldn't this article be about Gingrich choosing him based on religion instead of Mitt? ...Or is CNN just admitting that they view his Mormonism as the out-of-place entry in his long list of religions.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Debwards

      No kidding... the ignorance of this piece is beyond me.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • joe

      I totally agree.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  20. Carolyn

    He was once a Mormon? SO WHAT? I wouldn't care if he had no religion or was an athiest. WHO CARES? It has nothing at all to do with ethics, morality or integrity. Cheech!

    February 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Adam M

      Perhaps the point is not so much that he was a mormon, but that he's changed hands multiple times; is that worth a relevant discussion?

      February 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • just sayin

      Show me an atheist in power , I'll show you a potential mass murderer.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • just sayin

      Troll-y Troll Troll. I love to Troll.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Show me a post by just lying, and I'll show you a pile of dung.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:31 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.