5 faith facts about Marco Rubio: Once a Catholic, always a Catholic

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US Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio poses with attendees at a campaign event at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, January 31, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RTX24TT8

US Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio poses with attendees at a campaign event at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, January 31, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RTX24TT8

UPDATE: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio withdrew from the 2016 race on March 15 after a crushing defeat in the primary in his home state.

(RNS) Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has tried three religions for the right spiritual fit.

But as he pushed — and failed — to prove he was the the right electoral fit for the GOP presidential nomination, he continually gave all power and praise to God and assured voters: “There’s only one savior, and it’s not me. It’s Jesus Christ, who came down to Earth and died for our sins.”

Here are five faith facts about Marco Rubio.

RELATED STORY: What do 2016 election contenders believe? Check the RNS ‘5 Faith Facts’ series

1. He has been around the spiritual block — and back.

Rubio often talks about faith and wrote about his religious convictions in his 2012 book, “An American Son: A Memoir.” His parents baptized him Catholic and he is now a practicing Catholic — after exploring the Mormon and Southern Baptist faiths.

When he was 8 years old, his family moved from South Florida to Las Vegas, where his mother attributed the wholesomeness of the neighborhood to the influence of the Mormon church. Young Rubio was baptized again, this time in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He spent three years as a Mormon, upheld its teachings more enthusiastically than his parents and chided his father for working as a bartender, a no-no for Mormons who abstain from alcohol.

2. He frequents a Southern Baptist megachurch.

Rubio and his wife, Jeanette, often visit Miami’s Christ Fellowship, a Southern Baptist congregation the couple appreciates for its strong preaching and children’s programs. Rubio has donated at least $50,000 to the church, which he attended almost exclusively from 2000 to 2004. But he now finds his religious home in Catholic churches in Washington, D.C., and Florida. In his memoir, Rubio writes that he will go with his family to Christ Fellowship on Saturday nights, and Mass on Sundays at St. Louis Catholic Church. His children have received first Holy Communion.

He wrote in his memoir: “I craved, literally, the Most Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion, the sacramental point of contact between the Catholic and the liturgy of heaven. I wondered why there couldn’t be a church that offered both a powerful, contemporary gospel message and the actual body and blood of Jesus.”

Starting in late 2004, he began to delve deeper into his Roman Catholic roots, reading the whole catechism, and concluding that “every sacrament, every symbol and tradition of the Catholic faith is intended to convey, above everything else, the revelation that God yearns, too, for a relationship with you.”

Still, Rubio disagrees with Pope Francis on key points. The very day the pontiff, in an address to the U.S. Congress, called for attention to climate change and income inequality, Rubio was on Fox News to point out that Francis is infallible on faith and morals, not on politics, science or economics. Still, Rubio, the child of Cuban immigrants, was deeply moved by the pope’s concern for immigrants.

3. He punted on the creationism question, then sided with science.

In 2012, when asked by GQ magazine, “How old do you think the Earth is?” Rubio dodged. “I’m not a scientist, man,” he said. “I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all.”

Later, after much criticism, Rubio said that he knows the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and that the fact is consistent with his belief that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

4. He draws the ire of atheists.

Rubio talks about faith in a way that has many atheists convinced he considers them less American than their religious neighbors.

“We’re bound together by common values,” he said, introducing presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention. And “faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.” At the time, pundit Andrew Sullivan, a Catholic, blogged: “Rubio just ruled atheists out of being Americans.”

However, when he was confronted by an atheist at an Iowa rally, Rubio told him, “Believe whatever you want.”

On the hot-button late summer topic of Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Rubio said “there should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights” for such workers. He has not joined the push by other contenders to de-fund Planned Parenthood at all costs, including potentially shutting down the government.

5. On the campaign trail …

ThinkProgress.org predicted his “direct, personal affiliations with all three major pillars of the Religious Right — Catholicism, Mormonism, and evangelical Protestantism” — would help him at the polls.

Rubio, like GOP rivals Sen. Ted Cruz and New York billionaire Donald Trump and Democrat contender Sen. Bernie Sanders, went to evangelical Liberty University to address thousands in a sports arena and online.

Rubio replayed his most religious appeals at the January GOP debate just days before the Iowa caucus. “Judeo-Christian values” are what makes America a “special country,” he said.

“Why are we some of the most generous people in the world? Why do Americans contribute millions of dollars to charity? It is not because of the tax write-off,” Rubio said. “It is because in this nation we are influenced by Judeo-Christian values that teach us to care for the less fortunate, to reach out to the needy, to love our neighbor.” He also said his faith would drive him as commander in chief.

But possibly his most overt pitch for the conservative Christian voters was in his ad touting salvation through Christ and saying he believes “the purpose of our life is to cooperate with God’s plan.”

(Lauren Markoe is a national reporter for RNS; Cathy Lynn Grossman contributed to this report)


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  • Barry

    Read Case for Christ by Lee Stroebel….it is a great read by a former atheist and will give you all the evidence you need!

  • RationalReligion

    There’s plenty of historical evidence for Christ’s existence and still a sizeable amount for the Resurrection.

  • Michael L Hays

    Rubio’s genome shows a predominance of plastic.

  • Michael L Hays

    The evidence of Jesus’ existence is scanty at best and that much dubious. There can be no historical evidence of Christ’s existence because anything posthumous is the matter not of fact, but of faith, however strongly believed. The point about faith is that it is not an extension of fact, but a leap. If you need proof of what is unprovable, you do not have faith, do not believe.

  • Gene Fox

    The Bible

  • JA

    Michael – do you believe in the authenticity of the Illiad by Homer? Why? Homer’s Iliad is the best represented of all ancient writings, apart from the New Testament, with something like 700 manuscripts. However, there are many more significant variations in the Iliad manuscripts than there are in those of the New Testament.

    The NT by comparison: Altogether we possess about 5,300 partial or complete Greek manuscripts. Early on, the New Testament books were translated into other languages, which seldom happened with other Greek and Latin writers. This means that in addition to Greek, we have something like 8,000 manuscripts in Latin, and an additional 8,000 or so manuscripts in other languages such as Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopic, Coptic, Gothic, Slavic, Sahidic and Georgian…

    This argument is so strong, that, if we deny the authenticity of the New Testament we may with a thousand times greater propriety reject all the other writings in the world.

  • Bill Griffith

    Whatever happened to quietly living your Christian Faith and letting your “light so shine”? Whatever happened to the patriotic idea of respecting the beliefs of your fellow Americans? Whatever happen e to the revolutionary Christian idea of renouncing our stupid wars? Jesus threw the money lenders out of the temple.
    So what are you going to do about the banks? Mr. Rubio, did you know that Jesus was an undocumented refugee?

  • Matt

    Unfortunately, there is not enough characters available to insert the plethora of verses that refer to Christians boldly proclaiming their faith. Proclamation of the gospel is done accordance with a Christ-like lifestyle. Paul preached, “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” I am trying to understand what you meant when referencing the account of Christ throwing the money changers out of the temple?

  • Debbie

    Rubio is one who lives his faith and his politics will reveal this faith. He would be a stellar candidate on the Republican ticket. We need a President Rubio!

  • Nope

    The Bible says nothing at all about holding your tongue about your beliefs. It wouldn’t exist if the apostles had followed the idea of being quiet. And as someone routinely insulted by liberals for my Catholicism, I think suggesting Rubio is intolerant is absurd. There is no Christian idea of renouncing war; there is one that says we should strive for peace. Mr Obama, who purports to be Christian, won a Peace Prize before he bombed children with drones. The banks are not in the temple. And Jesus was not an undocumented refugee; that is an absurd anachronism. But other than that, great post.

  • Gail Coniglio

    Rubio claims the “Catholic” card yet I know people from his “so called” parish that he has sold out on his #Catholic faith. On top of that, I see the Republican establishment now coalescing behind Marco Rubio. This is why I believe a vote for Rubio is a vote for the FAILED Republican establishment. He’s a typical politician – has memorized talking points and is a smooth speaker that appears believable. Most of the times he doesn’t answer questions in debates, he just lists his talking points. I am a South Florida resident that worked diligently on his campaign when he was first elected to the senate. He has failed me as my senator with his flip-flops and hasn’t achieved anything substantial since being elected. He reminds me of Obama when he was running for President – young and a great speaker and people are buying it. I don’t trust Rubio. Since trust is a key issue for me and WON’T be voting in the Florida Primary for him on March 15th.

  • Pat

    Rubio isn’t perfect but much preferable than Cruz the Canadian or Trump the narcissist. Choose the lesser evil, please. There is no Mr Perfect Presidential Candidate out there. Besides, it’s considered the “impossible job” in every sense of the word, by every legal historian. Our history is proof of this fact.

  • Pat

    Rubio isn’t perfect but much preferable than Cruz the Canadian or Trump the narcissist. Choose the lesser evil, please. There is no Mr Perfect Presidential Candidate out there. Besides, the job of the POTUS is widely considered an “impossible job” in every sense of the word, by every major historian. Our history is proof of this fact.

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  • Ufff, thanks, I thought he was a Catholic, which make him less Trustable. Being a Christian is being someone who believes what the Bible says not what He think is best.

  • The BlueKrait

    Mr Griffith,

    How can you prove that Jesus was undocumented? What kind of documents were needed at that time? Do you know for sure he did not have the necessary documents? Do you know for sure if documents were needed in order to move around and about? Did Jesus take any jobs from the locals? Did he commit rape, theft or act of terrorism? Was he and his disciples impregnating women with the sole purpose to have his children born with a local citizenship? Please tell me with proof on hand Mr Griffith.

  • Cisco lindsey

    Rubio is an empty suit. He has no accomplishments in the senate, in fact missed many, many votes. He has zero executive experience, never a mayor or governor. Totally lacking in foreign policy experience, never served in the military. This smooth talking pretty boy is not what we need running the hugely complicated richest and most powerful nation on earth – with his finger on the nuclear button. We need a tough, experienced leader who can make sound judgment calls in a dangerous word. I see no one like that in the republican field except perhaps Kasich.