Florida senator Marco Rubio, whose name is being floated as a potential top pick running mate for Republican Mitt Romney, says he doesn’t remember much about his family’s time in the Mormon church.
“Well, I was very young,” Rubio said in an interview with Miami CBS affiliate CBS4. “I don’t remember a lot other than the fact that my parents, especially my mom, really wanted to put us in a very wholesome environment.”
Rubio is expected to discuss his connection to the Mormon Church in his upcoming autobiography “An American Son,” to be released June 19.
Rubio now identifies himself as Catholic, despite reportedly attending evangelical churches at times.
“On the question of my religion, I’m a Roman Catholic,” he said. “I’ve been a Roman Catholic, baptized and confirmed, and we go to church on Sundays. And I enjoy my Catholic faith.”
Rubio said he respects those who have adopted the Mormon faith and believes they are Christians.
“Yeah, look, I don’t get into that whole debate, I’m not a theologian,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for the Mormon Church; I have a lot of respect for members of the Mormon faith. They believe in Jesus Christ, and they consider themselves Christians and I consider them Christians.”
Rubio’s ties to Mormonism first surfaced in February when a report by Buzzfeed indicated he was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as a child. According to family members, the conversion occurred while his family lived in the same Nevada neighborhood as his aunt’s family, who had converted to Mormonism years before. Michelle Denis, a cousin of Rubio, recounted the young Rubio encouraging his family to be active participants in their new church.
“He was totally into it,” Denis told Buzzfeed. “He’s always been into religion. Football and religion. Those were his things.”
Family members told Buzzfeed the Rubios left the church when they relocated to Miami. Alex Conant, a spokesman for Rubio, said the family left the church before they moved from Nevada.
But Denis said he was the instrumental force in moving the family back to Catholicism, receiving his first communion at age 13.
“He really convinced the whole family to switch religions,” she told Buzzfeed. “He’s very vocal so he convinced them all to become Catholic.”