Marco Rubio, who is expected to throw his hat into the presidential race Monday, has also drawn attention for his brief time in Mormonism, his baptism into the Roman Catholic Church and his ties to an evangelical church.
As a bartender, Rubio’s father struggled to follow the Mormon Church’s teachings prohibiting alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, Rubio wrote in his memoir, “An American Son.”
“I immersed myself in LDS theology,” Rubio wrote. “I studied church literature and other sources of information to learn all I could about the church’s teachings.”
By the time he was in sixth grade, his family had left the Mormon Church for Catholicism, and he had his First Communion on Christmas Day 1984.
In 2012, Rubio told me that he spent a few years in an evangelical church.
“Sometime in 2000, I unfortunately got really busy with my political stuff,” he said. “I perhaps didn’t do a good job of spiritually leading my family, which is one of the roles I play alongside my wife.”
During that time, his family attended a church called Christ Fellowship, he said.
“For a period of time, it became our church home almost exclusively,” Rubio said. “I felt called back to Catholicism around 2004, but have maintained the relationship with Christ Fellowship and attend their services often or listen to the podcasts.”
Rubio now firmly identifies with the Catholic church, though he noted how he finds commonality between different Christian denominations.
“Some unifying principles bind all Christians: that God became a man and died for our sins, and that without that sacrifice, all of us would be doomed,” he said.
In his memoir, Rubio wrote that 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.
“Like everybody else, unfortunately, it’s usually in time of need that we tend to turn to our faith. It would be unfair to say I had a moment of conversion,” he said. “But one moment when my faith journey took on a different aspect was when my children became a bit older.”
In a 2013 speech at the Values Voters Summit, a gathering of social conservatives, he received a standing ovation when he spoke about Jesus Christ as God.
“I believe he loves every single human being that has ever lived, no matter what they have done, even if they don’t believe in him,” Rubio said. “That’s why he suffered a brutal death and he resurrected from the dead, to erase the sins that separate us from him.”
On his final day as speaker of the Florida House, Rubio delivered a speech focused on the role of God in his public life. And his book, filled with Bible verses, ends on faith.
“And last but most important,” Rubio writes in his acknowledgements, “I thank my Lord, Jesus Christ, whose willingness to suffer and die for my sins will allow me to enjoy eternal life.”