Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Marco Rubio and Christian Eclecticism

This piece is just a few days old but contains some interesting information about Senator-elect Rubio's religious commitments (h/t Mark Movsesian).  According to the piece, Senator Rubio is both a "practicing and devout Roman Catholic" and a committed member of Christ Fellowship, a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.  

The piece speculates about some political reasons for Senator Rubio's membership in the evangelical church, and it concludes with this: "What may be clear from this story — call it The Case of the First Catholic Protestant Senator — is that in America, religious distinctions matter less all the time."

That last nugget of liberal theology didn't seem to follow from the story.  At one point, the author includes a quote that had Rubio "come out" as an atheist, there would have been serious political trouble.  For that matter, my guess is that he would have been in hot water had he said that he was both Muslim and Catholic.  But it may well be that within Christian communities in the United States -- and perhaps, as the article intimates, particularly among Hispanic-American communities (though I am even less sure about this) -- inter-denominational comfort has increased substantially, and that something more than tolerance, something more embracing, has developed.  Compare, e.g., where the country was 50 years ago, let alone at the founding.  Perhaps a kind of Christian eclecticism is emerging? 



DeGirolami, Marc | Permalink

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Marc, another important factor to consider is the ways in which post-Vatican II Catholicism, at least in the US, has adopted Protestant liturgical practices. Protestants who attend a Catholic mass today in the US will hear a liturgy in English, see girls serving at the altar, and hear many familiar hymns. Christian eclecticism would have been a lot harder during the days of the Tridentine Mass, I think.

Posted by: Mark Movsesian | Dec 1, 2010 3:38:01 PM

Mark, thanks very much for the comment. I think you're right. The American Catholic liturgy is far more "Protestant" than what one generally would find in Europe, though maybe things are changing there too -- I do not know. All of that makes eclecticism much more likely (which, after reading Rick's link to Fr. Albacete's thoughts, is of course a separate matter from whether eclecticism is a salutary development for American Catholicism).

Posted by: Marc DeGirolami | Dec 1, 2010 5:24:04 PM

Obviously this is no big deal to Protestants...isn't it important that he's more Catholic than most Catholics on social issues?

Posted by: huh | Dec 5, 2010 11:06:33 PM

And one more thing...there are no "politcal ambitions" behind attending a church going way back. Anyone familiar with Rubio's time as Speaker knows he puts God first and work second, to say the least.

Remember, just because Rubio "bursted onto the national scene" but had been campaigning for 18 months (practically the lifespan of the wider Tea Party movement) doesn't mean the smeers on the internet. The dude has few ambitions as a politician, he simply wanted to stop Crist from being a de facto Democrat on the hill. God informs his conservatism which governs his ambitions to be of service to the cause. And to anyone unfamiliar with "Christ Fellowship", it is a very tame church well within the mainstream of Christian thought, I live nearby and hear nothing but great things about the people and their outreach in the community.

Posted by: huh | Dec 5, 2010 11:12:51 PM

*smears on the internet are true

Posted by: huh | Dec 5, 2010 11:13:24 PM