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. Tin cup

    Flip flopper. I guess I know who I'll never want to vote for

    February 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Ken

      BO ? Gitmo's closed, no it's open. BO will not take PAC money, yes he will. BO opposes the surge, no he doesn't. BO will never cave on a "public option,' yes he will. LOL. Wake up.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  2. cigarman

    Marco Rubio obviously does not know who he is. I know who he is, he is a lying punk Republican.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  3. FrankSpeech

    So that is why he is so self-righteous in telling the rest of us what we should believe and how we should live our lives??? Another Republican liar and hypocrite to add to the pile of non-credible, non-leader losers.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  4. Tin cup

    Flip flopped. I guess I know who I'll never want to vote for

    February 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  5. GeorgeBos95

    No surprise here, he's a politician. I'm surprised he hasn't taken a few other religions for a spin.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  6. TonyT.

    shyboy69 – Clearly, you've neglected a lot of Mormon history, including the Meadow Mountain Massacre... Yeah, they hold traditional values dear alright!

    February 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  7. Sue

    Rubio has merely been swapping one imaginary friend cult for another. They're all rubbish.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  8. Spence

    So all this matters, why?

    February 23, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  9. arale norimaki

    Every Cuban American family has at least one wanna be "VICTIM" as a member.

    many Republicans want to consider amending or is repealing the 14th amendment to make sure anchor babies do not get citizenship. I wonder whether some Republicans silently resent him. Marco rubio

    February 23, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  10. jim

    Don't expect much from this guy in the money plate being passed around. He is in serious debt on his house!

    February 23, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Ken

      How terrible.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm |

      Records show Rubio sent payments to American Express totaling $13,900 for his personal expenses during his tenure as House speaker. But those payments were not made monthly. He made no contributions to the bill during a six-month stretch in 2007, records show.

      One committee paid relatives nearly $14,000 for what was incorrectly described to the IRS as "courier fees" and listed a nonexistent address for one of them. Another committee paid $5,700 to his wife, who was listed as the treasurer, much of it for "gas and meals."

      Rubio's wife, former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Jeanette Dousdebes, served as the committee's treasurer. In reports filed with the state, Rubio and his wife failed to disclose more than $34,000 in expenses over an 18-month period.

      Marco Rubio was facing foreclosure on a Tallahassee house after missing five months of mortgage payments, according to a lawsuit filed in Leon County Circuit Court.

      February 23, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  11. jo an

    He appears to be going in circles....

    February 23, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  12. alletis

    I don't think the point of the article was that he was Mormon at one time. I think the point was that he couldn't make up his mind about which path he wanted to follow. My opinion is that they are all 85% the same anyway.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  13. Floyd Johnson

    I am not sure that attending the Latter-day Saint church for 3 years as a child qualifies one as "was once a Mormon." Why again would Romney care about this?

    February 23, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  14. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    typical politician – trying to be all things to all people.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  15. nonconformist

    Why should we care what ANY politician religion is? It should be a private matter and not some entry pass.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • eric calderone

      Faith matters because it sheds light on character. And a person's character goes to the nature of the individual: one's judgment, one's sense of right and wrong.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  16. PHil

    How about you actually write something negative about Obama? Not a single one in 4 years, not one.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • alletis

      Calling him a commie, and calling into question all of his credentials is not negative? Maybe he hasn't done anything.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  17. blaqb0x

    Keep going Rubio. You still has islam, judism, buddhism, wica, and pastafarianism to try.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  18. Sanity

    Dem Senators Harry Reid and Tom Udall are Mormons; Reid was Mormon of the Year in 2009 (Google it). Strange the left and the media (yes, I'm being redundant) never mentions this, isn't it?

    February 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • GEE OH DEE

      I think this year Jimmer Fredette was selected as Mormon of the year

      February 23, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • retphxfire

      Stop playing the right vs left card. I'm a proud liberal and I think it's nuts to make religion an issue, but since you brought it up...how about all the silly little nonsense comments about President Obama from the right and FOXNews (sic)?

      February 23, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  19. Richard Conn Henry

    What will he be tomorrow?

    February 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Ken

      He will still be God fearing. He will NOT worship fallible human beings like you. Now those more "enlightened" lib's....now there's a smart bunch of folks, they bow to "clinton, and dodd and frank and pelosi and reid, the infallible." A man who kneels before God is not an ego maniac, or someone to be criticized, unless you're an angry, intolerant lib.This just in...... maxine waters is catholic and still an idiot. Where's the story of her calling the Speaker of the House a "demon" recently? hhhmmmmm? HYPOCRISY ! say it with me....

      February 23, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Ken is an instance of a Straw Man fallacy and also presents a Red Herring fallacy.


      February 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  20. shyboy69

    It's amusing to see the bias in the media against Mormons. The media fears Mormons because of their success, but mostly because they hold dear that which the media hates: traditional values. The media will call you a racist or bigot for using the same language against Jews (who are another wealthy, successful and INFLUENTIAL religious group). But those Mormons? Nope, the same rules don't apply. Mormons are the last Christian sect in America that the left views as threatening - all the rest are in decline specifically because they caved in to lib ideas.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • pervert bishops

      christian/muslim, they're all the same..

      February 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • pervert bishops

      btw, some people are more easily brainwashed than others. whether they are xtian or muslim, all depends on the part of the world your from and the god fears promoted by your abusing parents. Yep,, any christian today would be a muslim, had they had the right mix.

      Better to be a Realist.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:18 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.