Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who now calls himself a Catholic, apparently spent a portion of his childhood as a practicing Mormon. According to a report from BuzzFeed, Rubio was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was eight years old. After years of practicing and participating in the faith, his family returned to Catholicism.
While this may seem unlikely to some, Rubio spokesperson Alex Conant confirmed the story during a phone call with BuzzFeed. According to Conant, Rubio and his family did, indeed, become Mormons, then returned to Catholicism years later. BuzzFeed explains why this element of Rubio's religious past is relevant to the currently political schema:
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.
Mo and Michelle Denis, two of Rubio's first cousins, were the individuals who initially shared this information with the outlet. Apparently, the Denises were responsible for sharing their faith with the Rubios, which subsequently led to the family's conversion in the late 1970s. Once the Rubios became Mormons, the families worshipped together.
While Marco, his sister and his mother purportedly were baptized into the faith, his father -- Mario -- abstained. Mo and Michelle contend that the bartender enjoyed drinking and smoking and that the strict moral codes the church embraced simply didn't fit in with his lifestyle.
His son, however, fully embraced the conversion. In fact, Marco's cousins say he was extremely enthusiastic about his new-found faith.
"He was totally into it," Michelle explained. "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.
For example, when they were in elementary school, Rubio formed a singing group with Michelle and his sister that would put on performances for extended family. Their inspiration? The Osmonds, of course.
The Rubio family's adherence to the Mormon faith, though, apparently waned when they decided to move from Las Vegas, Nevada, back to Miami, Florida. His cousins speculate that a lack of Mormon influence in their new home at the time led them to leave the faith (Rubio was about to enter high school at the time).
"When they went to Miami, they basically stopped going to church," Mo said (Mo is currently in lay Mormon leadership in Las Vegas, Nevada). "I think they probably didn't have the [LDS] church around them there."
And it seems it was Marco who pushed the family's conversion back to Catholicism.
"He really convinced the whole family to switch religions," Michelle alleges. "He's very vocal so he convinced them all to become Catholic."
So it seems Rubio, who calls himself a Roman Catholic but who attends a non-denominational Baptist church, apparently also has a past with Mormonism. While this may seem confusing to some, it's not uncommon for people to experience religious conversions. Among Blaze readers who took part in our recent faith survey, 26 percent claim that they, at some point, have converted from one faith to another or from non-belief to religious adherence (74 percent have not experienced a conversion).
Read the rest of the BuzzFeed report here.