So what religion IS Marco Rubio anyway?

A friend on FB was recently speculating about a Santorum/Rubio ticket — in theory, the first to be all-Catholic — but Marco Rubio’s religion remains murky and contradictory. Now, according to at least one report, he has Mormon roots.

Details:

In the compelling personal narrative that has helped propel Florida Senator Marco Rubio to national political stardom, one chapter has gone completely untold: Rubio spent his childhood as a faithful Mormon.

Rubio was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his family at around the age of eight, and remained active in the faith for a number of years during his early youth, family members told BuzzFeed.

Rubio spokesman Alex Conant confirmed the story to BuzzFeed. Conant said Rubio returned to the Catholic church a few years later with his family, receiving his first communion on Christmas day in 1984 at the age of 13.

The revelation adds a new dimension to Rubio’s already-nuanced religious history—and could complicate his political future at a time when many Republicans see him as the odds-on favorite for the 2012 vice presidential nod. Vice presidential candidates are traditionally chosen to provide ethnic and religious balance to a ticket. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and Rubio’s Catholic faith would already mean the first two members of minority traditions on a Republican ticket in American history. Rubio’s Mormon roots could further complicate that calculation.

A sign that Rubio’s aides see the story as potentially damaging: BuzzFeed’s inquiries appear to have sent them into frantic damage-control mode, and after email inquiries from BuzzFeed — but minutes before Conant responded witha phone call this morning — a brief item appeared on the blog of the Miami Herald mentioning the Senator’s religous past.

The story of Rubio’s conversion to Mormonism, his enthusiastic immersion in LDS adolescent life, and his eventual departure from the church was recently related to BuzzFeed by two of the Senator’s first cousins, Mo Denis, a Democratic State Senator in Nevada, and his sister Michelle—both of whom were close to his family at the time.

By the cousins’ account, the Rubios were introduced to Mormonism in the late 70′s, after moving into a house in the Denises’ neighborhood. The two families’ mothers had always been close as sisters growing up in Cuba; now they were building congruent lives in the same middle-class suburb of Las Vegas.

Mo said the Denises—who had converted to Mormonism years earlier—wasted little time in sharing their religion with the Rubios.

“Right when they moved here, they started going to the church activities with me,” said Michelle, who grew close to Rubio and his sister, Veronica. “Our parents didn’t let us hang out with non-family members too much. They were pretty strict.”

It wasn’t long before the Rubios were sitting down with Mormon missionaries, reading the Book of Mormon and preparing for baptism. It’s unclear how many in the family ultimately converted; the Denises recalled only the baptisms of Marco, Veronica, and their mother, Oria. But one family member definitely abstained: Marco’s father, Mario.

An overworked bartender at Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino, Mario had little use for a religion that promoted a strict code of moral conduct that seemed at odds with the way he made a living, said Michelle.

“He liked to smoke and drink,” she laughed. “Plus, I don’t know if he was ever around too much. He was always working.”

As the family patriarch toiled to support his wife and children, Michelle said Marco—or “Tony” as the family calls him, after his middle name Antonio—stepped in at a very young age as a natural leader in the family. Smart, confident, and slightly stubborn, Rubio was skilled at persuading his siblings, cousins and even his mother to see things his way, Michelle said.

“I think we always thought he’d be something because he had a big mouth, and he was very bossy,” she said. “He could convince his mom to do anything.”

And for a number of years during his early adolescence, that meant enthusiastically encouraging participation in his family’s new church.

“He was totally into it,” Michelle recalled. “He’s always been into religion. Football and religion. Those were his things.”

Over the years, he and his cousins frequented LDS youth groups, attended church most Sundays—often walking to the chapel because his mother didn’t know how to drive—and latched on to the mainstream Mormon culture that was easily accessible in LDS-heavy Nevada…

…Rubio’s steadfast participation in the Mormon church continued for several years—until his parents decided to move them to Miami. Rubio was just reaching high school age when his family relocated, and Mo speculates that their transition to an area with fewer Mormons likely took its toll….

…”When they went to Miami, they basically stopped going to church,” said Mo, who currently serves in the lay Mormon leadership in Las Vegas. “I think they probably didn’t have the [LDS] church around them there.”

Conant told BuzzFeed that Rubio never requested to have his name removed from the LDS Church’s records, which means officially, the church is likely still counting him as a member.

Michelle said the family eventually started identifying as Catholic—once again, at Marco’s urging.

“He really convinced the whole family to switch religions,” she said. “He’s very vocal so he convinced them all the become Catholic.”

The reason for his adamance is unclear. But even while the conversion marked a return to his family’s religious roots, it wasn’t the end of his spiritual evolution. While Rubio continues to identify as a Conservative Roman Catholic, he currently attends a non-denominational Baptist church with his family in Florida. As his notoriety increases, both communities have sought to lay claim to the rising political star, with little resistance from Rubio himself.

Read it all.

Comments

  1. Tax records should show who he financially supports and that would imply where he finds comfort. If he attends a non-denominational Baptist church then he probably isn’t giving money to a catholic church.

    I trust in faith. If he is a good practicing Baptist then he has faith. It just means no one can call him a catholic candidate.

  2. How can he possibly self-identify as a conservative Catholic if he attend a non-denominational Baptist church? I’m a very strong believer that a candidate’s faith is his/her own business….however, their honesty and/or openness, or lack of same, is ours.

  3. What the *hell* is wrong with politicians? Are they genetically insane?

    How can someone identify as a “conservative Roman Catholic”, BUT DOESN’T ATTEND MASS!? (sorry for the caps)

    No one – absolutely NO ONE in politics is to be trusted. Period. They are all guilty of being narcissistic, power-addicted liars unless they prove otherwise.

    I’m done with this whole process.

  4. May God bless Senator Rubio and his family. My family is Catholics (and an “atheist” teen boy) living in the heart of Mormon hegemony in Utah. It is so very very hard NOT to get sucked into Mormon culture/religion when it is so overpoweringly dominant around us. My teen daughter attends the Mormon teen girls’ group for social and service activities with her neighborhood friends … and we are very conscientious to speak frequently with her about the Mormon faith, what she is learning in their meetings, what we as Catholics believe and WHY we believe it, etc. It is a wonderful opportunity for communication among our family, but if we didn’t take that initiative, I can easily imagine DD being sucked into Mormonism just from the cultural/peer pressure. Nothing nefarious involved in that, just reality.

    I can easily imagine this type of scenario at work in Sen. Rubio’s youth in NV (another Mormon stronghold), then a whipsaw when his family moved cross-country, then another when his beloved wife wants another denomination … God bless them all.

  5. My question is- what religion is Joe Biden?

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Actually, it used to be fairly common for people to give money to multiple churches of which they weren’t members.

    Heck, my great-great-great-grandfather, who converted from Catholicism to various forms of Protestantism as soon as he hit the US and was an active and tithing member of whatever church he was in, always paid “pew rent” to the local Catholic Church. Some say it was for the benefit of Catholic friends visiting town, some say it was to show that he wasn’t Protestant because he was ashamed of his Irish Catholic past, and some say it was just in case he changed his mind.

  7. Aaron Streeting says:

    This adds a new wrinkle to a complicated story. One wonders why Rubio presents himself as Catholic politically but practices as an evangelical. Would it hurt him that badly politically to tell the truth?

    On the other hand, is it possible that his wife and children are evangelical, but he’s Catholic? My understanding is that after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback converted to Catholicism, his family did not take it very well. If I recall the story correctly, Brownback would attend Mass on Sundays by himself and then go to a Protestant Church with his family. I assume they supported both churches financially. If that’s the case with the Rubios, however, I wonder why they would be so secretive about it.

  8. What ever he is, it’s pretty obvious to me that Rubio has God’s wind at his back.

    It’s obvious he’s a good man with moral clarity, perhaps still on his spiritual journey for the “true faith.” I’ll take a Rubio anyday over a dissenting Catholic.

    FWIW, both the Baptists and the Mormans have some great truths that can serve us all well. If anything, all of that in his background can/could/will probably only make him a better Catholic, if that’s the faith he chooses to follow.

    For all who get in a frenzy over this, why is it a big deal when Obama’s black liberation marxist faith for 20 years was a yawn by the MSM?

    At the end of the day, the main thing that matters is how our religion shaped us to the person we are today. Marco Rubio by Christain standards is a gem!

  9. Anyone who will chose a candidate primarily based on their religion deserves the low quality of leadership such a vetting process will inevitably produce.

  10. pagansister says:

    Sounds like he is still trying to find out just what church does it for him. That can take a life time. He has most certainly investigated to different faiths–LDS and then the Catholic church—-now giving the Baptists a try. Personally I really don’t care what faith candidates belong to—or if they don’t align with any faith.

  11. Isn’t he de facto a dissenting Catholic by his regular attendance at a Protestant service? An occasional attendance can be explained away. Regular attendance seems to be a conscious choice to not frequent Sunday Catholic Mass.

    Moral Clarity? From a 40 year old person earning $400,00 a year and not repaying a $100,000 college student loan from his youth? Debatable at best.

    Christian gem? Perhaps so, perhaps not. There is his Florida Republican Party credit card purchases of plane tickets for a female healthcare lobbyist. They have not been satisfactorily explained by him to the best of my knowledge. I stand corrected if they have.

    In any event, his youth and inexperience should disqualify him at least as much as the argument against President Obama for the same thing. Even as vice president — one heartbeat from the presidency — it seems unwise to have someone as inexperienced.

    But, bottom line, his religion is not a criteria anyway.

  12. I grew up in rural Arizona which is basically like growing up in Utah. The town was 95% Mormon, 5% Catholic, 1% every other religion. The way the Rubio’s were converted is a common tactic. The Mormons did (and still do) do a full court press on a lukewarm, maybe even just lonely family. They are surrounded by love, neighborliness. The Mormon women, (the Relief Society) really work on the matriarch of the family, inviting her to quilting bees, potlucks, etc. The Mormon kids at school will know that a family is thinking of converting, so the Mormon kids also make an all out effort to be nice to the family. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen to a lot of good Catholic families in my old parish. At that time, the Catholic Church in that diocese was rudderless, heavy on tambourines, light on Magisterium. As a high school student, the Mormon kids always made me feel left out, they were always talking about Girls Camp, their teen dances, HOW MUCH FUN THEY HAD LAST NIGHT at their youth group, etc. I can’t say I blame the Rubio’s.

  13. “So what religion IS Marco Rubio anyway?”

    A better question… Why is this important?

  14. Aaron Streeting says:

    Actually, the article in the Telegraph cites a source stating that this is the case:

    I have a source – a very good one – who says that Rubio is in fact a devout Catholic but his wife is also a devout Protestant. Rubio attends his church in the morning and hers a little later so that the family can stay together. There’s certainly no sin in that.

    Source: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/timstanley/100139296/catholic-evangelical-mormon-who-is-the-real-marco-rubio/

  15. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Klaire…

    He’s been a Mormon, claims in his official biographies to be Catholic, but publicly states that he attends a Protestant church?

    Something ain’t right.

    Dcn. G.

  16. Aaron Streeting says:

    And Politico reports that his staff has now released his entire religious history: http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/02/the-timeline-of-rubios-faith-115368.html

  17. Chris, a bigger question is how can somone identify themselves as Catholic who never attends mass? Many who do this also deviate from Catholic non negotiable teaching.

    Are these questions that should be asked and answered by all candidates? Obama on many occasions has said he is a Christian, but as we all know also as a child attended Islamic Mosques and schools. I am not concerned about what someone does as a child and for that reason have never supported the attacks on Obama faith or ties of his youth. But if we are going to get into Rubio current beliefs and what it means, I think there should be a strong vetting of what Obama was doing with Reverand Wright and his hate filled sermons for 20 years. I wonder if this is really the battle that Obama wants to see opened up at this time.

  18. Confession time. I once went to a Mormon gym and played basketball for an entire winter every Saturday and to do so, listened to their message for 20 minutes each week until my mom found out. Guess this means no political career for me.

    What a joke this is and if this is the best the Democrats got to leak to the press on him, that is a good sign.

  19. Important perhaps in pointing out his willingness to tell the truth, instead of saying what will garner the most political support for a particular issue or audience. Does he tell the truth or does he not? A lie about religion does not bode well for other issues. After all, he is the one who initially brought up the issue of his religion.

    I don’t think religion should be a qualifier or a dis-qualifier — the truth, on the other hand, matters.

  20. Apparently, Sen Rubio, is whatever he needs to be at the time. Afterall, SOME Hispanics are now evangelicall Prostestants and MAYBE this way, he covers all the conservative religious bases. Of course he also, at one point said his parents fled Castro’s Cuba, when they arrived several years before Castro took power.

  21. @Aaron Streeting Thanks for the articles. That explains a lot. I was wondering how anyone who didn’t attend Mass regularly could consider himself a conservative Catholic.

    As far as I know, there’s no problem with attending another Christian denomination’s service as long as you also attend Mass. In fact, I’d say it’s very exemplary of him to attend his wife’s service as well. It shows charity towards his wife and a devotion to the unity of his family.

    As for his Mormon youth, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Lots of people try different things before they settle down. Although the question could be whether he’s settled down yet.

  22. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    Santurom mentions the devil (believed in by more than half of Americans), and the media goes apoplectic telling him he should shut up. But they want to smear someone on a religious non-issue and there’s plenty of religion that’s OK to delve into.
    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I received my cub scout badges through a Methodist Church scout pack.

  23. I guess that only proves what a great politician he is. He’s got a foothold in three religious groups. ;)

    Actually I would be a little disapointed if he’s not Catholic. It wouldn’t change my vote one bit, but it’s nice to admire someone you can identify with, someone who you can connect with on a personal level. To state it again, it wouldn’t change my vote for or against.

  24. Mark I don’t think you are correct in your characterization of the schools the President attended when he was a child in Indonesia.

  25. It sounds to me that Marco Rubio has many of the same characteristics that Mitt Romney also possesses. He basically will be anything that you want him to be. The Republican field is broken. We have liars, adulterers and another who cannot separate church from state. Rubio is being counted on bringing the hispanic vote. I seriously doubt that he can deliver….not supporting the dream act and his views on immigration. Rubio is NOT ready for prime time any more than Sarah Palin was. This election is rapidly becoming easier for Obama to win. I have yet to hear from any candidate who doesn’t make me cringe. Obama is sounding like the only adult in the room.

  26. Donal Mahoney says:

    Chris,

    You have said how I feel. I’m old enough, however, not to have to live through many more years of the nuttiness. A Catholic turned Mormon turned Catholic again who goes to a Baptist Church. Sounds to me that he should run with Ron Paul under the slogan, “What me worry?”

  27. Obama disassociated himself from Rev. Wright.
    A very good thing to do.

  28. To: Donal Mahoney
    Looks like Rubio is just covering all bases.

  29. He said his family ‘escaped from Cuban communisim’ The ‘commies’ were still hiding in the mountains when they ‘escaped’…2 1/2 years before Castro took over. Castro to re-join RCC says italian newspapers. I say we lost one to gain one (-:

  30. Really? confession is good ..

  31. Kenny , be careful because Joe could reply with : ” It’s none of your f…… business! “

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