Ad Majorem [fill-in-the-blank] Gloriam

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 28, 2016

Much has been made, these last few days, about the Jesuit training of Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. What does his Jesuit education tell us?

Elizabeth Drescher has something to tell us. Drescher is the author of Choosing Our Religion: the Spiritual Lives of America's Nones. To appreciate her insight, you need to know:

  1. - "Nones" in the term used for people who are not affiliated with any religious group.
  2. - "Nones" are now the largest-growing religious bloc in American society. 
  3. - "Nones" lean very heavily toward the Democratic Party, according to a recent Pew poll. 

About now you may be wondering: What do "nones" have to do with Jesuit education? Good question. Let Elizabeth Drescher answer it:

Between the last election season and this one, I talked with more than 100 nones across America about their spiritual lives and surveyed several hundred more. My research shows that the Jesuit values that shape Tim Kaine’s politics correspond in many ways to the spirituality of nones.

Jesuit training, then, produces people whose outlook on life is remarkably similar to that of the unchurched. Or, to look at it from a different perspective, remarkably similar to Hillary Clinton's constituency. 

Make no mistake: the Clinton campaign knows what Kaine could bring to this year's presidential campaign. Democratic candidates need Catholic votes. The challenge was to find a vice-presidential nominee who had the "look and feel" of a Catholic, yet could to the secularized Democratic constituency. The answer was Jesuit education. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: garedawg - Jul. 30, 2016 11:45 AM ET USA

    In my understanding, the Jesuits were so successful in the past at spreading the Gospel because they were very good at adapting to the surrounding culture. But obviously there is a big flip side to that.

  • Posted by: nix898049 - Jul. 29, 2016 12:59 PM ET USA

    Why, why, why, must they always be Catholic's? Weren't Joe Biden, John Roberts, John Kerry, Kathleen Sebelius, etc. enough to make the point? The legacy of Cuomo lives on. Or should I say Kennedy (any of them)? This is just torture for those of us who hold the Faith dear. Yet, Our Blessed Lord knew this would happen and died for us anyway. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

  • Posted by: JDeFauw - Jul. 28, 2016 10:29 PM ET USA

    Do we believe in the reality of the supernatural? Do we believe the doctrine of original sin. Do we believe in Jesus Christ's real presence in the Holy Eucharist? Liberal theology over the past 50 years has tended to downplay or deny all three of these core realities. Which helps explain the similarity between Jesuit spirituality and None spirituality.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jul. 28, 2016 5:49 PM ET USA

    Your modern Jesuit is, by worldly measures, an enormously successful educator. Spiritually speaking, no one better tailors sheep clothing for the wolf.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 28, 2016 1:19 PM ET USA

    "Nones" also nave a sense of transcendence. They've purified spiritual focus unencumbered by scandal and hypocrisy. They've jettisoned "visible Church." Rather than turning nothing into something, everything is transformed into nothing. The teaching magisterium, the visible sacraments, the clergy and sacramentals have nothing to offer. We might adorn ourselves with jewelry or tatts of spiritual symbols. These serve simply to bear witness to our sensibilities. To each his own. Free at last.