The article was titled: “Rubio’s book explains why he left Mormonism”, and I thought: “OK I’ll bite. Who is this Rubio guy, why did he leave the LDS church, and why is this story about him in the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune”. I would not really get an answer from the Trib article to any of my questions.
The answer to both “who is this Rubio guy” and “why is this story about him in the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune” should have been fairly obvious from the sentence “Rubio is on the short list to be Romney’s running mate”. Unfortunately that explanatory sentence did not occur anywhere in the article. I found it only after I booted up this computer, and googled “Marco Rubio”. I found the explanatory sentence in almost every article that popped up about him; sometimes it was the first sentence in the article.
One place that I found the explanatory sentence was in the online edition of “LDS Living” which reposted a header for the Trib article in its “Mormon Report” section with this additional bit added before it:
"MR says: Marco Rubio, a potential running mate for Romney, spent three important years as a Mormon in his youth. Though he and his family ended up leaving and becoming Catholic, he has nothing but positive things to say about the Church." -- LDS living Mormon Report
So…I’m confused. Obviously the running-mate thing is so important that even people re-posting the article feel the need to add it, but its lack was missed by a whole slew of editors. Since I have a well tempered sense of suspicion I think this is because the purpose of the article is to establish Rubio as a Mormon amongst potential donors without muddying the narrative with speculation about his being a vice-presidential candidate. Of course the oversight could simply be due to synergistic incompetence on the part of the Trib’s entire staff; don’t know.
So why did Rubio leave the LDS church?
According to the article he joined when he was 8, and was a member for three years. The article quotes Rubio’s autobiography where: "He said leaving the Mormon religion was his decision.”. Though I have to take off one shoe to count that high I figure he is saying that he left the church when he was 11, and that there were reasons both understandable and compelling enough for an 11-year-old to successfully use them to convince his family to leave the church.
“OK” I thought “I’ll bite! What are these reasons to leave the LDS church that are so simple that a pre-adolescent boy can create a compelling argument from them?”
There are deeply personal reasons why some boys leave the LDS church during the psychotic turmoil called adolescence. One common reason is that they discover that they are homosexual, and the combination of hormones and backwards morality is too much to bare; something has to go. I’m sure many have fantasized about doing something messy like gouging out their hypothalamus with a plastic fork. Some commit suicide. The smart ones leave the church. The really smart ones leave all churches and find Atheism. The lucky ones leave the church and find happiness.
Reading the article about Rubio’s autobiography it is apparent that he either not homosexual, or has yet to come out. Personally I think the fact that he married a Miami Dolphin’s cheerleader is a hint that he could be overcompensating.
Reconstructing Rubio’s religious conversions it looks like he is a Catholic turned Mormon turned Catholic turned Baptist turned Catholic. I could be missing some conversion steps as I did not do in-depth research on this. I suppose I could read his autobiography or the other biography on him that are hitting the shelves any minute now.
Leaving the LDS church requires that one send in a letter and be officially removed. I cannot tell from the article if he officially left the church or if he is simply “inactive”. So he might be, in the eyes of many Mormons, still a member of the LDS church.
The closest the article gets to describing why he left the church is this sentence: “Eventually, a friend from Rubio’s grade school who was Catholic piqued the future senator’s interest, and he began learning about the faith his mother grew up in.” This says a whole lot of nothing. I’ve been “piqued” by many theologies. I spent a couple hours last year with my interest “piqued” by some Greek mythology, but I did not sacrifice any goats (though I did eat a particularly tasty goat curry from a restaurant called “Negril” near the Silver Spring Metro station).
Mitt Romney has been steadily establishing the importance of being a member of the LDS church in his campaign. Just about every potential Mormon (except maybe Harry Reid) has been tapped by Mitt in one way or another. Establishing the LDS bona-fides of a potential running mate is consistent with this.
Rubio does have identity elements that will play well outside of Utah. He is a first-generation offspring of an immigrant family. His parents traveled by boat from Cuba to the US just six months before Castro and the 26th of July movement landed on the yacht “Granma” in Cuba.
Rubio is many things to many people. He may be the lesser half of the first all-Mormon presidential ticket. He will probably be more visible in the 2016 elections if Romney is not elected.