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. Russ139

    Why is it that Republicans especially, feel the need to alter their personal history? Is it that GOP voters (at least the hard core base) are so guided by litmus tests (i.e. christian, patriot, family man), that any candidate must erase anything that might fail that test?

    February 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • O.T.

      How about Obama who won't release any school records? How about the fact that his vehemently anti-American mentors suddenly were only part of his misty memories?

      February 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  2. Tom

    President Obama isn't waging war on religion, he's waging war on ignorance and obstructionism.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Obamatheidiot

      That is laughable. The Muslim dictator has shown his colors.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Perhaps you could enlighten us all as to how Obama is a Muslim and a dictator. I suggest you consult a dictionary. After that, see a brain surgeon for help.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      *Crickets chirping* They sound intelligent when compared to the idiot who posted the original vomit.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  3. Sirned

    Talk about Church hopping... Hmmm me thinks he just uses a different religion that gets him the most votes....I bet if he had moved to Iran he would go to a mosque...Just saying nothing authentic about this guy

    February 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  4. Alien Orifice

    So did we elect a new Pope of the United States yet?

    February 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  5. stvnkrs10

    Rubio is a joke. The only reason he is in office is due to people voting Republican here in Florida, not for Rubio himself, now the other 49 states who don't know what idiots we let in to office down here like Rubio and out corrupt idiot of a Governor Rick Scott are being forcefed in to believing this guy has some creditably? Especially with Cubans? They hate this guy. Don't believe the hype.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  6. O.T.

    This story is insidious religious bigotry. Is it really a news story that Rubio's family practiced Mormonism when he was a small child? No. Why is it published by CNN? Because the network constantly reminds readers that Romney is a Mormon in an effort to appeal to bigotry. This is the most tawdry journalism imaginable.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Jon

      The article says exactly zero negative about him being a mormon. It was a very positive article. You are the bigot - it must be coming from your subconscience.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • O.T.

      Of course it does not say anything overtly negative. The point is to keep Romney's Mormonism in the news to keep reminding voters, "Hey, this guy is a Mormon, not a Christian, ummmmm."

      February 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  7. Interested48

    Who cares?

    February 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  8. ronbry


    February 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  9. tcros

    Rubio is a rube just like Romney.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  10. AJD

    Do your home work reporters. You will find more.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  11. Marty

    Most important activity for Congress is to begin a specific, formal , legal directive to .......absolutely separate Politics and Religion!!! Politics is for the entire population of the United States; Religion is a very, very, personal , individual, choice of Faith. We're in a campaign for the Presidency, not the ministry.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  12. Separate Church From State Already!

    And why is the focus of the Republican primaries so heavily focued on faith and the culture wars? Because the conservatives STILL have no idea what to do with the real issues of the economy, foreign policy, and healthcare, amongst others.

    For most of this administration, all the right has been capable of is saying no. They have submitted no ideas, and many have openly hoped that measures to improve the economy would fail. Now it's election time, and they just plain do not have a stand on issues of substance. What to do? Go for the non-issues that get people all worked up (or so they think), and

    But in doing so, they are only playing to their extreme fringe. The general election is always decided by the undecideds in the middle, NOT the party bases on either side.

    Rubio's position on the economy? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

    February 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  13. Stick All Teabaggers In Gulags

    lol, what a trainwreck

    February 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  14. Sirned

    ..Rubio better have a talk with Rev Graham to see if he really is a Christian.....

    February 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  15. bryan

    I have been a member of two churches in my life. So what? Most of the comments on here are so ignorant. Apparently most of his church "flip-flops" occurred when he was a child. I am not sure how he can be held accountable for where his parents went to church? Obviously he scares the hell out of you Dems. Wow look at the nasty comments! Good hopefully he will ruin you folks!

    February 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      bryan, how you call people's comments nasty, and the turn right around a say you hope he "ruins you folks". You are a bad person.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      please forgive the type-o's.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Jon

      How do you know they are dems? There's zero in the negative comments that suggest that they are dems. By the way, I am a dem, and I think there is nothing wrong with "flip-flopping." If you are not sure about your denomination, better to be honest about it than to fake certainty. And the thought that the negative comments might be made by dems didn't even occur to me until I read your comment. Usually conservatives are more concerned with being consistent in your faith, if anything, the negative comments sound conservative.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  16. Alien Orifice

    just sayin
    You did not answer my question, did you skip Geography? Or maybe you were forced to live in tool shed and sleep in a whole in the ground and stare at the walls until your mama came out to give you a bible lesson (since I don't reckon they wanted you up to the house too much and what not) Don't trip on your Kaiser Blade ok? Some folks call it a Sling Blade.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  17. Separate Church From State Already!

    His faith journey looks like a drunken stumble.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    For Pete's sake, make up your mind! I understand the desire to find God in your life (or a Higher Power), but the point is to find it in YOUR life, not go around telling other folks what to believe!

    February 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Jon

      Who is telling who what to believe?

      February 23, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  19. Thomas

    This is the same guy who's parents fought Castro in Miami before the Cuban revolution .

    Rubio and Rick Scot are the same salesman in deferent color suits.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  20. BeverlyNC

    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.

    Let's just get rid of all Republicans in November so real leaders who will do real work for the People on the important issues like jobs, education, and the economy can be there alongslide our re-elected President Obama.

    February 23, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      Hear, hear! Thank you for your post!

      February 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Having a moral crisis Bev? Insecure? Self-worth problems.? Do you feel challenge by others?

      February 23, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Bev, how can stand by while Obama wages war on our religious freedoms! And by religious freedoms I mean the right to live in a All Christian Theocricy where everyone is told what they can or can't do with there bodies. Who they can have s.e.x. with, who they can marry, what religion they must follow, etc.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:56 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.