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. TJeff1776

    As everybody journeys through life we will be many things. Only the backward find fault with the obvious. And at the end what difference does it make. These professional faultfinders really make ya wonder.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  2. mitsu

    so a mormon(moron),and a cuban catholic(a harborer of illegals),what a match if it did occur.it will mean less immigration laws,and every know hispanic will make their way to our Country without a hassle.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      So do you use slurs against Jews, Blacks, Gays, Chinese, etc.?? If it't not OK for one, it's not OK for any.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  3. eye625

    Nobody cares.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  4. K3Citizen

    I'm glad that Rubio quit being Mormon because gay people are Christians too. He is the voice that the gay republicans need in this day and time.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • CypressSteve

      Oh, I see... So is it your position that Catholics and Baptists are friendlier to gays and lesbians than Mormons are? If so, perhaps a deeper dive is warranted. I think you'll find that the churches have virtually identical teachings on the subject.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  5. pervert bishops

    I say throw the religious on an island and let them all beat one another up.. christian/muslim,, who cares, they're all the same.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • just sayin

      Every piece of land on this planet is an island

      February 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • pervert bishops

      I said 'an' island, means one. You must be religious with that comment.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      just sayin
      You are incorrect. Did you skip Geography in school? Too busy reading a worthless bible?

      February 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • just sayin

      Every continent is a land mass surrounded by water. What land on this planet is not an island?

      February 23, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      A land mass, especially one smaller than a continent, entirely surrounded by water.

      Stupid: a person like just lying.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  6. Alien Orifice

    This just in, Sen. Marco Rubio has just converted to Scientology. And he has admitted that he is Gay...no wait......he is back to being straight again. We can confirm that he does in fact enjoy Sushi.....sorry he no longer likes sush......Yes, yes he does enjoy Sushi.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Nope, turns out he no longer likes Sushi.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      And he is back to being gay...no no....bi-s.e.x.ual. Wait, no he is bi-curious.

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

      Sounds like a speech by Mitt Romney.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  7. Quick Draw McGraw

    Nope. He was never a Mormon. He just thought he was. He's a politician, and religion is nothing more to them than a way to garner votes.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      This just in, Rubio took a shower and thought he was being babtized again. He is now back to being a Babtist, and he smells great.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  8. EnjaySea

    I guess my story is pretty similar. I went from atheist, to Catholic, to Methodist, to Presbyterian, to Pentacostal, to Evangelical, and then back to atheist.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      I was a skeptical person and just stayed that way.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  9. Vattery

    CNN, you really have hit rock bottom.
    I don't know if I'm reading actual news on CNN or the National Enquirer/Star Magazine anymore.
    (With sincerest apologies to the National Enquirer and Star- at least they don't pretend to be news outlets)
    A child is introduced to several religions by his parents. As an adult, he chooses one.
    Is that really newsworthy?
    I now have to read anything with a CNN banner on it, as scandal sheet, biased and NOT REAL JOURNALISM.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      You're in the Belief Blog. That's kind of the subject matter at hand, right?

      February 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  10. Charlie from the North

    Hey here is an idea. Let's stop focussing on "Who is a Mormon" and concentrate instead on "Who is a moron" This religious intolerance is gettin old. Huntsman is a Mormon and he is smart. Romney is a Mormon who happens to also be a moron. Sanatorium is not a Mormon but is he ever a moron. Gingrich is neither a Mormon or a moron but he is so frekin mean it doesn't matter.

    Obama/ Biden 2012

    February 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  11. roscoe

    Rubio was a mormon? What a surprise.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  12. The Pope

    Said Rubio "I should stay on the shelf,
    I have no faith in myself "
    Others want me it's true
    If only they knew
    My brain is like that of an elf

    February 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  13. Rational Libertarian

    Catholic to Mormon to Catholic to Baptist and Catholic

    Retard to retard to retard to retard and retard.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Charlie from the North

      "Retarded is a diagnosis not an insult" The word your looking for is "idiot", I don't usually comment on others's word choice but call a conservative Republican a retard is insulting to all who are developmentally delayed.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • pervert bishops

      haha.. Perfect, Rational.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Yeah, I've diagnosed Rubio (and all religionists) with mental retardation.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:38 am |
  14. The Pope

    Hey, this guy would fit right in with Mitt the Flipper.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • pervert bishops

      hey.. do we still have to cover up the children we abused?

      February 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  15. David B. Kline

    No one in this nation should have trouble with anybody's religion! If Marco Rubio wants to change his religion every day so what. On the other hand if Pres. Barack Obama and oh by the way, "he is Our President"; if he even hinted there was any kind of a problem with Rick Santorum's theology, the Republican Party would ask for his resignation!
    What's good for the goose is good for the gander, Rick Santorum should step down!

    February 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  16. bill henschel

    Nothing a person did at age 8 has any bearing on anything.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      While Rubio's one-time association with the LDS Church is not something he should have to explain today, it is certainly not something to dismiss as meaningless. The fact that he has intermittently been a Catholic, a Baptist and a Mormon shows the degree to which "faith" is more fluid than theology. Rubio's baptism at age eight may not mean the same thing as adult conversion but it had to mean more than his baptism as an infant. What really matters is the connection between participation in a faith community and the mix of service and behavior in the so-called "real world."

      February 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • longtooth

      Now you're making sense. You know very well that's not allowed!

      February 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • TXpresby

      1) Since Rubio was baptized as a Mormon, he won't have to be baptized by proxy after he dies.
      2) Mormons don't let go of anyone that has been baptized Mormon. Whether Rubio considers himself a Mormon [and he was one for only 3 or 4 years], they will consider him a Mormon until the day he dies. I grew up Baptist and am not a Presbyterian but I have never been removed from the roles of my childhood church because they don't transfer people to another belief system. Mormons do the same thing and I know this as fact because of a friend that grew up Mormon and is now Church of Christ. The Mormons still stop by with bags of groceries or offers of help periodically. My friend is 40 and hasn't been Mormon for roughly 20 years. It doesn't matter where she moves, they find her and do this.
      3) I can understand changing churches when you become an adult. There were tenets of the Baptist religion that I was uncomfortable with and I joined the Presbyterian church because they were open to women serving and also welcomed everyone to the communion table. I do not understand Rubio saying that he is a practicing Catholic and then going to a Baptist church as well. Pick one!

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

      TXpresby, you are mostly correct in your assertion that Mormons, like most religious communities, consider someone who has joined their rolls to be a member of their church, whether practicing or not. Mormons will continue to try to "bring them back into the fold" by contacting them, helping them through tough times, or just being friends... unless and until someone asks to have their name removed from the church's rolls. If they make just that simple request, it will be done and the Mormon church will no longer try to visit. I speak from personal experience.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  17. Anne

    A moron maybe and he still is.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      Anne, before you call someone a "moron" for belonging to a certain religious tradition, even for a short period, maybe you should take a look in the mirror. I hope you live long enough to regret being so publicly intolerant.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Charlie from the North

      Oh Bill I don't think Anne is trying to insult a religion but a political party here..

      February 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  18. volsocal

    Wonder if these author's ever wrote about Obama's moslem, black liberation theology, and marxist background.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • DocCutty

      Saying it over and over and over doesn't make it any more true.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      Literacy makes it unlikely.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • volsocal

      The issue, DOC, is media bias, and this is a perfect example of it.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Charlie from the North

      If it were true it would bother me. He's a Christian John McCain said so!

      February 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Charlie from the North

      And as far as marxist goes the only thing remotely socialist he did was have the government invest in the car companies and that was a good idea that he got from George W. So there.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • longtooth

      Yes, it's well known he's an Islamic radical, a Marxist, and a general in the Black Liberation Army. That's how he got elected president of the USA. Too bad his republican opponents missed all that. Stay by the phone. I'm sure you'll be getting calls for futher help with your political savvy.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Charlie your using facts and logic shhh!!! You might make some of their heads explode.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  19. Bill Fitzgerald

    Who cares?

    February 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Doug

      My thoughts exactly, Bill...

      February 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • HurtfulTruth

      Anyone who has half a brain and who knows just how Republicans would be actibg if they found out the SAME THING about President Obama!!

      February 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      I do.

      Rubio's one-time affiliation with the LDS Church is not "scandalous." It's interesting. It's a gift to all of us who think that where you go to church has less to do with anything than what you took from the experience.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Charlie from the North

      Amen, I'm only sticking around for the puns.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  20. Beauty, eh?

    Uhhhhh. . . . . . . . must be a might slow news day back in your hole/cubicle/cave/wiccaden in Atlanta today. . . . . . since when does this even matter????

    February 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      It's an interesting nugget of information. It says that this is a small world after all.

      I'm not a big fan of Marco Rubio's politics, but I think it's terrific that someone who is so easily pegged as Catholic, and all because of his Cuban roots, also has roots in the Mormon Church and the Baptist Church. It's a sign that the divisions between people are as artificial as the stereotypes.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
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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.