February 23, 2020

Marco Rubio – the first Catholic Mormon prez?

The expected announcement by Sen. Marco Rubio that he is officially running for president has left me excited but cautious. Our current president was a first-term senator with a rather lean record of legislative achievement when he decided that he was capable enough to run the country; I see no reason to repeat this disastrous experiment. If I do wind up supporting Senator Rubio as a candidate, it will be because of what he’s done, not what he says he will do. If we’ve learned anything from the past six years, it’s that a good speaker does not always a good president make.

That said, there is one aspect of his personal life that I find intriguing. Senator Rubio was baptized into the Catholic Church as a child (as was I), and was also baptized in the LDS Church when his family moved to Nevada when he was eight, the minimum age for a Mormon baptism. After attending weeklyservices for three years at a Mormon church, the family moved again and reëmbraced Catholicism. In theory, Marco Rubio could be our first Mormon president if he gets elected.

The Mormon Church does not recognize the validity of non-LDS baptisms, and many other faiths — including Catholicism — don’t accept the validity of ours. Once you’re on our membership rolls, there are only two ways to get off them: by being excommunicated or by essentially excommunicating yourself by writing a formal letter to the church stating that you wish to leave it. Rubio hasn’t done either one, so in our eyes he is still a Mormon.

Of course, Senator Rubio has the last word in how he wishes to identify himself religiously. If I were him, I would try to speak as little about it as possible in order to leave people guessing. By all accounts, Senator Rubio had very positive experiences with the LDS community in Nevada, and may not want to formally sever his ties with their church – or risk alienating mainstream Mormon voters. I too have had two Christian baptisms in my life, and still have enormous respect for the Catholic Church.

However Marco Rubio chooses to define himself in relation to the LDS Church, I’m happy to have another Mormon seek higher office. Next year could turn out to be a great one for Mormon Republicans: Democratic hatchet man Harry Reid leaves the Senate, and a conservative baptized Mormon is elected on a national ticket. One can always pray…