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. jdoe

    Sounds like the journey of a perpetually confused spiritual seeker.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  2. 3rd party

    I have no problem with his or anyone else's religion. My problem with Rubio is he thinks we should be more illegal immigrant friendly.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  3. d. l. kelley

    This is supposed to be news? So he has attended different denominations of faith, I do not see the big deal. I am a baptist that now attends an assemblies of God church BECAUSE the church is close to my home, we have to conserve fuel so we can go to work. It is really time to talk about important things in this country, we have freedom of religion still as far as I know CNN, report something of importance.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  4. Roy

    Everyone....back to your video games.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  5. francis

    Big Deal, ,,,Rubio himself would make a better President then Obama ,,,,What is Obama ,, No one knows....I want to see CNN question Obama ....He is useless thats why they dont...

    February 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm |

    A Cuban on the ballot means nothing to the general population of the Hispanic community. Most Latin Americans don't like Cuban

    The same Marco Rubio? That Talks Big but Fails to Deliver?

    Marco Rubio Really Admires Dead Ra cist Jesse Helms.

    So, Marco Rubio is going around calling America "weakened." He blames it on Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.spented thousands with GOP credit card

    it's time to recall this clown.

    Sen. Marco Rubio born to Cuban exiles? Not true, after all.

    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=flip flopper

    February 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  7. Laurie

    He was a Mormon and then turned to Christianity...OMG – Franklin Graham is happy!

    February 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  8. Mike

    I once was Mormon but it turns out it was only some bad mushrooms.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  9. Lobo

    its all about the money. mormons are famous for handing out the cash as long as you come to church, see for yourself. baptist chicks are crazie hot and catholic chicks well billie joe hit the head on the nail come on virigina

    February 23, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  10. Lobo

    very intersiting. sounds like this kid was taking lesson from the master flip floper. real sound commintment pricipals or finger in the air and seeing which way the wind blows!

    February 23, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  11. zip

    Ouch. That's a career killer.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  12. Paul

    OK . this story? So what . An 8 yr old Mormon.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  13. ally buster

    THERE IS NO WAY THAT THIS "man" is even REMOTELY qualified to be President of the United States. He isn't qualified to be a senator- he's a religious extremist who hates gays and contraception. Contraception! Rubio is against CONDOMS!


    February 23, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  14. Josh

    Sounds like he can't figure out which myth to believe in.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • oh brother!

      oh you are so right!

      February 23, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  15. Sirned

    Does this man ever tell the whole story? We do know for a fact he cherry picks his personal history. I bet his book will be full of bull too....

    February 23, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  16. willwoodard

    let's not forget the fact that he's a liar

    February 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  17. Mayombe

    He is fooling you all. He really practices Santería... look it up.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  18. mfb

    An individual's religious beliefs or practices don't factor much into my voting booth decisions. There are other, more telling indicators of a person's character.

    I do, however, find it intersting that a 40 year old is publishing his "memoir." To borrow a line from a movie, "I'm sure it will be a short, but terrifying, emotional thriller."

    February 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  19. r e scheerd

    Do we have issues with little boys? "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."

    February 23, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  20. r e scheerd

    Typical Republican ... flip, flop, flip, flop.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:25 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.