Posts tagged with: John Kennedy

John Kennedy, CEO of Autocam

John Kennedy, CEO of Autocam

In today’s National Catholic Register, reporter Joan Frawley Desmond talks to John Kennedy, a Grand Rapids-based business owner of Autocam, a company that makes both precision auto parts and medical supplies. Kennedy (who is a board member of the Acton Institute) speaks candidly about his faith, his company’s future and the HHS mandate battle.

The Obama administration has sought to dismiss the merits of HHS lawsuits filed by business owners like Kennedy, arguing that free exercise and statutory religious-freedom protections only apply to individuals, not “corporations.”

While Kennedy and other HHS for-profit plaintiffs have gone to court to obtain a reprieve, Planned Parenthood has framed their legal fight as an effort to stop a threat to women’s reproductive rights. “The bosses want to deny your birth-control coverage,” announced one story on the Planned Parenthood’s website that has sparked editorials and commentary echoing its claim.

But Kennedy contends that his faith is integral to Autocam’s corporate culture and that the country actually needs more business leaders inspired by strong ethical and moral values and guided by Catholic social teaching that affirms the fundamental dignity and rights of every worker.

“I went into this with some trepidation, knowing how it was going to be painted,” he acknowledged.

“But I am more convinced now that we have absolutely done the right thing by standing up for religious freedom.”


2013-10-08T232005Z_1_CBRE9971STM00_RTROPTP_3_USA-FISCAL“Will the most fundamental liberty of all – freedom of conscience – survive in post-Obama America?” asks Terry Jeffrey at He, along with many others,  is worried about the Obama Administration’s refusal to allow faithful Christians to live according to their conscience. He is particularly concerned about the Kennedy family, owners of Autocam, based in Kentwood, Mich. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that the Kennedys may not sue the director of the Health and Human Services Department, Kathleen Sebelius, because “Autocam is not a ‘person’ capable of ‘religious exercise.’” President of Autocam and Autocam Medical and an Acton board member, John Kennedy told Jeffrey that he and his family “strive to live all parts of their lives – including their business lives – in keeping with their Catholic faith.” He said that:

We’re called into different occupations, 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.

Jeffrey discussed the HHS Mandate with Kennedy:

When I interviewed John Kennedy this week, I asked him: “Can your family-owned company, in keeping with the way you have run it in accordance with your Catholic faith, obey that regulation?”

“No,” said Kennedy. “I can’t see how we can do that.” (more…)

Autocam, a West Michigan business owned by John Kennedy and his family, filed suit against the federal government in October, 2012. The suit is one of over 200 plaintiffs battling the HHS mandate requiring employers to cover costs for abortions and abortifacients in employee health insurance. Now, the Thomas More Society is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Autocam’s case after the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dismissed the case brought by the Kennedy family and Autocam Corporation. A press release from the Thomas More Society stated:

We mean to take this case directly up to the U.S. Supreme Court, as the U.S. Courts of Appeal are now sharply divided on these critical issues,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, the national public interest law firm representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit along with CatholicVote Legal Defense Fund. “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was enacted in order to protect people of faith against government mandates that impose a substantial burden on believers’ efforts to freely exercise their religious convictions, unless the government has really compelling reasons for doing so, and even then only if the means used are the least restrictive and burdensome among possible alternatives. We hope the Supreme Court will agree to hear this case so that the Kennedys and other business owners who practice as well as profess their religious faith can keep on doing so without having to ‘bet the company’ and thereby risk their employees’ jobs as well as their own livelihood.”


The Acton Institute, founded 23 years ago, is ready to move into its new home in the heart of Grand Rapids, MI. Not only will Acton have more room for events, visiting scholars, and conferences, the new building boasts the best in technological innovations, while seeking SERF (Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities) certification for its re-use and recycling of the original historic building at 98 E. Fulton. According to

photo courtesy of Clark

photo courtesy of Clark

The $7 million remodeling project creates a lecture hall, conference center, library, and studios for television production, radio programming and webcasts, giving the 23-year-old institute an international base for its mission of advocating free market Christianity.

The institute, which was ranked 13th in the “Top 50 Social Policy Think Tanks” by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program in January, is vacating offices it has occupied in the Waters Building.

Built in 1929, the original building has seen its exterior restored as well. One exterior wall boasts a mosaic mural, Tracy Van Duinen’s Metaphorest Project, the 2nd prize winner in the 2011 ArtPrize contest, which will remain in place. In addition, the third story of the building is home to the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT), a non-profit which provides a culture of opportunity for people to create social and economic progress in their lives and community through art and career training courses.

John Kennedy, president and CEO of Autocam Corp.,  co-chaired the $12.5 million fundraising campaign.

“It’s part of the ethos and culture of West Michigan to say, ‘How do I do things better?’ and ‘I want to live a better way,’” said Kennedy, a Catholic who co-chaired the campaign with Sid Jansma Jr., president and CEO of Wolverine Gas and Oil Corp. and a member of the Christian Reformed Church.

Kennedy said Acton excels in encouraging entrepreneurs to develop their skills in the marketplace to improve the lives of others.

“They don’t say the markets are moral, but players in the market have a responsibility to be moral,” said Kennedy.

The Acton Institute plans to be in the new building by March 5, 2013.

Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, gives us a glimpse of what is ahead in the fight for religious liberty regarding the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate, given the outcome of Tuesday’s election.  In the National Catholic Register, Duncan outlines that current federal lawsuits fall into two broad categories: those filed by nonprofit organizations and those filed by business owners. In the case of the nonprofits,

The federal government has not responded to the merits of these lawsuits, but has instead sought to have them thrown out as premature. The government says that its non-binding promise of an “accommodation” by August 2013 means that the courts should not hear the lawsuits now — even though the mandate is a final rule that is now harming these plaintiffs’ ability to plan, hire and budget.

Unfortunately, in two of the cases (Belmont Abbey and Wheaton), the courts have agreed with the government and dismissed the lawsuits. Those dismissals will be reviewed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in December.

The cases filed by business owners such as John Kennedy of Autocam and David Green of Hobby Lobby have met with “some success”, the article states, but the fight is far from done.
Because these business lawsuits are not subject to any delays, the government has had to respond on the merits. Its response is startling.The government has flatly stated that a person who goes into business to make a profit loses any right to exercise religion in his business pursuits. A kosher butcher, for instance, would presumably have no religious rights associated with his decision to stock only kosher products. A Bible seller would have no religious rights associated with the sacred texts she is selling.

The profit motive alone dissolves these individuals’ rights to exercise religion. The government apparently wants to enforce its own theology of how God and mammon should mix. But its interpretation would bar individuals from providing for their families in ways consistent with their religious beliefs.



John Kennedy,  president and CEO of Autocam and Autocam Medical in Grand Rapids, MI, recently filed suit over the HHS mandate requiring employers to provide artificial birth control, abortifacients and abortions as part of medical care coverage. On Wednesday, government attorneys explained the rejection of his suit, on the basis that it had no merit.

The government contends that provisions of the law that form Kennedy’s objections “are intended to help ensure that women have access to health coverage, without cost-sharing, for certain preventive services that medical experts have deemed necessary for women’s health and well-being.”

The services include contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, sterilization, and education and counseling for women during reproductive years.

“Plaintiffs’ challenge rests largely on the legal theory that a for-profit corporation established to engage in manufacturing can claim to exercise religion and thereby avoid the reach of laws designed to regulate commercial activity and protect the rights of employees,” Jacek Pruski, U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney, wrote in response to the lawsuit.

“This cannot be,” he wrote.

Mr. Kennedy’s attorney, Jason Miller, says the law forces some employers to participate in what they believe is intrinsic evil.

Mr. Kennedy recently spoke on this topic in a free Acton podcast available here.

You can read the entire article regarding the federal lawsuit here.

West Michigan businessman, John Kennedy, has joined over 90 plaintiffs in filing suit against the federal government in its attempts to force business owners and employers to pay for procedures and medications that violate religious beliefs. Kennedy joins other business owners, such as Hobby Lobby CEO David Green who says “God owns” his business.

Kennedy, president and CEO of Autocam and Autocam Medical, says the law clearly violates his religious beliefs.

“This law requires me to violate my beliefs by paying for controversial products that cause abortions, and it does nothing to improve access or eliminate cost for essential medications like insulin and heart medication,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy said he hopes the lawsuit will buy opponents of the law like himself enough time to repeal the mandates in Congress. The lawsuit seeks a court injunction to stop the mandates when they become effective on Jan. 1, 2013

“Why is the Obama administration prioritizing life- ending drugs over lifesaving drugs?” said Kennedy, who filed the lawsuit with the support of the CatholicVote Legal Defense Fund and the Thomas More Society of Chicago.

Kennedy added that the government is forcing employers such as himself to choose between violating religious beliefs, taking away all employee insurance programs, or closing down. Kennedy currently employees 680 people in the U.S.

Read’s “West Michigan CEO files lawsuit, saying he cannot comply with Obamacare on religious grounds”.