Thursday, February 23, 2012

Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio Was Once A Practicing Member Of The LDS Church, May Still Be On LDS Membership Rolls

It has now been revealed that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a practicing Catholic, was once a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And since he never requested name removal, he may still be on the LDS Church's official membership rolls. The Miami Herald first uncovered this information as one of several tidbits released from Rubio's impending book, "An American Son" (expected release date Oct. 2012), while Buzzfeed provides more background. Other significant sources include the Telegraph and The Blaze.

Summary: The Rubio family were practicing Catholics when they moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. Influenced by two of the future Senator's first cousins, Mo Denis, a Democratic State Senator in Nevada, and his sister Michelle, Marco Rubio and some family members ended up converting to the LDS Church. His sister Veronica and their mother Oria were the other family members identified to have joined, but Mario's father Marco refused to join because he was working as a bartender and didn't want to join a church that promoted a strict code of moral conduct that seemed at odds with the way he made a living.

Marco apparently became quite active in the Church, enthusiastically participating in its youth groups and prodding his family members into similar activity. They attended Sunday services almost without exception. Marco remained active for at least three years, then began tapering off. When Marco turned 13, he began attending Catholic services once again, receiving his first Communion on Christmas day in 1984 at the age of 13. When the Rubio family moved to Miami about the time he was ready to enter high school, they stopped attending LDS services altogether and became fully-fledged Catholics once again. Marco is said to have pushed the family into the change. He and his family currently attend a Miami-area Baptist-oriented nondenominational church, Christ Fellowship.

However, according to Rubio spokesman Alex Conant, who is also identified as a Mormon lay leader in the Las Vegas area, Rubio never requested to have his name removed from the LDS Church's records, which means officially, it is possible he is still on the church's membership rolls. According to paragraph 6.7.3 of the Church Handbook of Instructions, Volume 1 (not available online), formally joining another church and advocating its teachings is defined as apostasy and can be cause for convening a disciplinary council and subsequent excommunication, but this is rarely imposed upon Mormons who simply drift away and start attending another church unless they engage in public anti-Mormon activism. It is unlikely that LDS Church authorities will initiate a disciplinary council against Rubio simply on the basis of this revelation, since Rubio has no record of anti-Mormon activism.

In contrast, a request for name removal, as set forth in paragraph 6.14 of CHI-1, has no stigma attached. But bishops are required to personally verify that the member wants to have name removal; an e-mail request for name removal to LDS Church Headquarters alone is insufficient. Name removal results in the cancellation of all offices, blessings, and sealings.

Political implications: Marco Rubio is on the short list of prospective running mates for the eventual Republican presidential nominee; in particular, he has been closely linked to Mitt Romney. However, some political observers now speculate the revelation of Rubio's past Mormonism could hurt him with Evangelicals. This appears unlikely. LDS blogger Joanna Brooks also believes that it will not hurt Rubio's chances to become a running mate. But the Miami New Times is the latest source to remind us that Rubio is not actively seeking to be VP.

Generating more political buzz is the possibility of an informal alliance between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul -- directed primarily against Rick Santorum. Whether Ron Paul is actually staking a claim to become Romney's running mate, or is merely running interference for his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), has not been determined. Rand Paul has said it would be an honor to be considered as a running mate for Romney, fueling speculation that Ron Paul may be trying to get his son on the ticket. Being younger than Ron Paul, Rand Paul would be a more powerful addition to the Romney ticket, and could propel Romney to an easier victory over Barack Obama in November 2012 -- provided Romney can secure the Republican nomination.

The latter development is by no means yet assured.

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