Q & A: Marco Rubio on His Faith of Many Colors
As speculation has grown over who Mitt Romney will pick as his running mate, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has topped nearly every list. Rubio has also drawn attention with the release of his memoir, An American Son, as well as his brief time in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his baptism into the Roman Catholic Church, and his ties to an evangelical church. Christianity Today online editor Sarah Pulliam Bailey spoke with Rubio about his diverse faith background, how his faith influences his policy positions, and why Christians should be involved in the public square.
You were baptized as a Mormon and then as a Roman Catholic. Can you describe your faith journey?
My mother desperately wanted to give her kids a wholesome environment, and we were born into a traditional Catholic family. We had extended family members who were and remain active members of the LDS church, which does provide a very wholesome environment. We joined the church for a little less than three years when I was very young, after we moved to Las Vegas in 1979. I'm not sure my mom ever fully understood the church theologically. As a family we were never fully immersed in it because my father didn't buy in, so there are many intricacies to the faith that we never really got involved in. By the time I was in sixth grade, we had left the Mormon Church and gone back to Catholicism, and I did my First Communion on Christmas Day 1984.
And you attended an evangelical church for a period of time?
Sometime in 2000, I unfortunately got really busy with my political stuff. I perhaps didn't do a good job of spiritually leading my family, which is one of the roles I play alongside my wife. In the meantime, my wife and my sister found an excellent local church, Christ Fellowship. It does a phenomenal job on two fronts: bringing people to Jesus, and teaching the written Word through phenomenal preachers. And it has a fantastic children's program. For a period of time, it became our church home almost exclusively. 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.
Did you have a conversion moment when you acknowledged your sins and Jesus' death on the cross?
There has never been a moment when faith hasn't been an important part of my life. There have been moments when I've been more alive in my faith than others. There have been times when I've been more involved in my faith, dedicating more to it, and giving it more importance. 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. But one moment when my faith journey took on a different aspect was when my children became a bit older. I recognized that perhaps the most important part of my job in raising them is that I have only a handful of years to influence them and to inspire in them the knowledge of Jesus, Christianity, and what it means for salvation. If I fail in that regard, everything else becomes less meaningful.
Would you describe yourself as an evangelical?
I'm a Roman Catholic. I'm theologically in line with the Roman Catholic Church. I believe in the authority of the church, but I also have tremendous respect for my brothers and sisters in other Christian faiths. I recognize, as the Catholic Church does, that there are excellent teachings of the Word throughout other denominations. The elements of salvation are found in these churches as well. 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.