Born in Miami and initially raised Catholic, Marco Rubio is one of three children to parents Mario and Oriales Rubio. When the was 8 years old, his family made the decision to attend a Mormon church after they moved from Florida to Nevada.
The presidential hopeful ultimately circled back to his early religious roots and married wife Jeanette Dousdebes Rubio in a Catholic Church. However, he said that he found comfort in both Mormonism and a Southern Baptist Church (SBC). Amid his complex religious views, Rubio continues to be repeatedly questioned.
In the 2015 video above, Rubio shares his experience with faith to several Iowa pastors.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He’s Been Baptized as Both a Catholic & Mormon, but Is Now Back to Being a Practicing Catholic
In 1979, Rubio’s family left South Florida and moved to Las Vegas. There the Florida Senator was baptized a second time but through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). Rubio’s aunt was the first to join the church. After noticing the wholesomeness of the neighborhood, Rubio’s mother decided that he and his two siblings would be offered a more family-loving environment through the Mormon Church. However, Rubio ended up reverting to Catholicism and made his first communion in 1984.
On December 16, 2015, Rubio spoke to Christian Faith about his brief stint at the LDS Church during his youth.
“I was 8 years old so we followed my parents, primarily my mother into the LDS church for a number of years. And by the time—I was 11 or 12—we had returned to Catholicism. So as an adult—is what I can speak to. Certainly growing up after that I attended a Catholic church, was confirmed, married in the church and I’ve never really left the church.”
2. He’s Donated Over $50,000 to a Miami Southern Baptist Congregation That He Frequents
Although Rubio primarily practices Catholicism, attending masses in both Washington, D.C. and Florida, he often frequents Miami’s Christ Fellowship, a Southern Baptist congregation. He’s a fan of its powerful preaching and its children’s programs offered. Rubio — who almost regularly frequented the church from 2000 to 2004 — has donated at least $50,000.
In Rubio’s 2012 book, An American Son: A Memoir he wrote that himself and his family attend Christ Fellowship on Saturday nights and Mass in St.Louis Catholic Church on Sundays.
“On most Saturday nights, we still attend services at Christ Fellowship, especially if Pastor Rick [Blackwood] is preaching the sermon. His sermons still inspire me to grow in my Christian faith… Some of my Catholic friends occasionally express concern over my continued association with Christ Fellowship. But I don’t think you can go to church too often”
3. He Created a Religious Liberty Advisory Board
On January 6, Rubio’s presidential campaign made an announcement regarding the creation of a Religious Liberty Advisory Board, which includes political and Religious Rights legal activists. Several well-known evangelicals were recruited for the volunteer board, including Baylor University author Thomas Kidd, theologian Wayne Grudem, pastor Rick Warren and Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).
RightWingWatch reported that “the list could be seen as a response by Rubio’s campaign” to the Iowa closed door meeting mentioned where “dozens” of Religious Right leaders were rallying behind Senator Ted Cruz.
However, Eric Teetsel — a former Manhattan Declaration Director — told World Magazine on January 5 that “membership on the board doesn’t equal an endorsement of the GOP candidate, and the members could advise other campaigns if they wanted.”
4. He’d Be the First Catholic President Since JFK
On November 8, 1960, John F. Kennedy not only became the second youngest U.S. President at 43 but the first Catholic brought into office. JFK’s religious faith came under fire during a time period where anti-Catholic prejudice was very apparent. Ultimately, it was Kennedy’s victory at the Democratic primary in West Virginia — a state that isn’t predominantly Catholic — that was an indicator of the country’s. Since that time, there hasn’t been another Commander-In-Chief to occupy the White House.
Nearly half of all presidents have identified themselves as Christian. George W. Bush, George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt were Episcopalian, amongst others. Ronald Reagan, Grover Cleveland and Dwight D. Eisenhower were a few of the Presbyterians. Click here to view the complete chart.
Although Rubio hasn’t directly addressed the possibility of becoming the U.S’s second Catholic president, he did compare himself to Kennedy while on the campaign trial in Central Iowa. Rubio referenced JFK when trying to drive the point across that his youth — in his early forties — wouldn’t compromise his vision for the American people, according to Washington Examiner on June 8, 2015.
“Sixty years ago this nation embraced a new frontier. This nation took up the challenge of a Democratic president, to ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. Unfortunately, for far too long, politicians in both parties have campaigned on the promise of what this country and this government is going to do for you. But I’m running for president on the promise of what we, together, can do for America.”
5. He Says at One Point, He Got Lazy When It Came to Spiritual Leadership in His Family
Rubio confessed to Iowa pastors that — for a brief period of time — he became lax when it came to his faith in Jesus Christ. He went on to credit his wife for remaining deeply rooted in her faith.
“Around the year 2000, 2001, and I admitted this in my book, I became lazy in my spiritual lead of my family. In essence, I was still a believer and still had an active prayer life but I wasn’t providing spiritual leadership in my family. My wife on the other hand, became alive in her faith.”