Terry Jeffrey
The Obama administration has prohibited the Kennedy family from practicing its Catholicism, and the Kennedys now intend to ask the Supreme Court to restore their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.

Their case could become one of the most consequential in our nation's history. The issue: Will the most fundamental liberty of all -- freedom of conscience -- survive in post-Obama America?

John Kennedy serves as president of Autocam and Autocam Medical, Michigan-based companies that produce automobile components and medical devices. He and his family own the companies, which employ 661 people in the United States.

The Kennedys strive to live all parts of their lives -- including their business lives -- in keeping with their Catholic faith.

"We're called into different vocations or different occupations," Kennedy told me in an interview this week, "but we are supposed to respond to that call and try to basically show the teachings of Jesus Christ in everything we do."

"You have an obligation to treat everyone justly, and, in my mind, you are supposed to treat all people that you come across in life as part of your family," said Kennedy.

Autocam pays it workers an average of $53,000 per year -- which is more than the median national household income -- and provides its workers with a generous self-insured health care plan through which it pays out an average of "about $11,000 to $12,000" per employee per year.

Among those annual benefits is $1,500 the company deposits in Health Savings Accounts controlled by the individual workers.

But there is one thing the Kennedys won't do: Pay for sterilizations, artificial contraceptives or abortions -- including abortions induced by drugs. In keeping with Catholic teaching, they believe these things are "intrinsically evil" and that it would be wrong for them to pay for them.

Nonetheless, the Kennedys employees retain the right to buy these things with their own money -- including with money withdrawn from their Health Savings Accounts.

A year ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a "preventive services" regulation under Obamacare. This regulation requires almost all health care plans to cover, without fees or co-pay, sterilizations, artificial contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

The U.S. Catholic bishops unanimously condemned this regulation as a "violation of personal civil rights" and an "illegal and unjust mandate."

Many Catholic bishops declared: "We cannot -- we will not -- obey this unjust law."

With great moral courage, the Kennedys made a similar determination.


Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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