Posts tagged with: National Catholic Register

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.”

(more…)

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, a professor at Yeshiva College in New York, says religious liberty does not mean we need to water down our beliefs in order to get along. Rather, he says that people of different faiths must learn to live as both “stranger and friend“:

The rabbi explained that “America is the first country in a long time founded around an idea,” and that religious freedom “is the philosophical lynchpin of what lies at the heart of American ideals.”

This theory is evident throughout American history, he said.

To illustrate his point, Rabbi Soloveichik recounted the story of Jonas Phillips, a Jewish merchant living in the early United States. He explained that shortly after the formation of the country, Jews wishing to serve in the Pennsylvania legislature were required to swear an oath upon a Christian Bible, a blasphemous act for the Jewish people.

[Jonas] Phillips [a Jewish merchant], who had fought in the Revolutionary War alongside other Jews and Christians, found that this requirement was in opposition to the founding principles of the country, Soloveichik explained. The merchant sent a letter to George Washington protesting this practice and affirming that “all religious societies are on an equal footing.”

The rabbi maintains that a just society “will accept these differences and respect a person’s freedom to abide by his or her religious beliefs, treating the individual ‘as equal, without sacrificing religious faith’ for social uniformity.”Read “Religious Differences Compatible With Freedom, Jewish Leader Says” at National Catholic Register.

Frank Hanna III, CEO of Hanna Capital, LLC, has made Catholic education a special focus. In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Hanna spoke of the challenges, changes and reasons to champion religious education:

The more I looked into the issues of society, the more I became convinced that a lot of our societal failings happen much sooner; so much of the foundation of our failure was happening in our educational system. And that’s what actually got me thinking about education. I was thinking, “If you are going to do your own part in turning the world around, education is the place to start.”

I started to examine it in the secular world, and the more I began to study education, the more I became convinced that the very process of educating a child is inherently a religious undertaking.

Hanna goes on to say that parochial schools are in need of financial renewal, and spoke of the role of parish subsidies:

I think it is worth exploring whether parents should receive the subsidy from the parish or the diocese, rather than the school. In other words, parents who are tithing or who are parish members would receive something of a voucher that they can use at any Catholic school, thereby putting more control into the hands of the parents. Rather than subsidizing schools, we would instead be giving financial help to those parents who need it, and reconsidering whether parents who actually don’t need financial help should still be paying tuition that is subsidized. This is one example of the kind of financial modeling that we might reform.

Read “The State of Catholic Education” in the National Catholic Register.

In 2011, the Obama administration cut off funding to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) that was used to fight human trafficking. The USCCB lost funding for its refusal to provide abortions, sterilizations and artificial birth control in their anti-trafficking programs, as these services are all immoral, according to Catholic teaching.

Now, the bishops have re-grouped, and are launching a new initiative in the fight against human trafficking.

The USCCB’s new educational campaign, The Amistad Movement, rolls out this year. Lummert [Nathalie Lummert, special-programs director at the USCCB’s Office of Migrant and Refugee Service] explained the program reaches directly into at-risk urban and rural communities, where traffickers seek to blend their victims into the immigrant population. The program trains community leaders to identify victims, help rescue them and muster the support and resources they need.

“They will be empowered to identify trafficking in their community, rather than someone from the outside trying to identify it,” Lummert said.

Nearly 17,000 men, women and children are trafficked from overseas each year, according to the USCCB Anti-Trafficking Program.

Lummert goes on to say that now that the government is not funding programs like this, the bishops have greater flexibility in what they are able to offer. “We’re able to leverage more resources,” Lummert said. “When you have a variety of private sources and private donors, you are really free to do what the Church wants to do.”

The National Catholic Register and Associated Press are reporting that Justice Sonia Sotomayor has denied Hobby Lobby (and a related company, Mardel, Inc.) its request to opt out of the HHS mandate to provide abortifacients as health care to employees. Justice Sotomayor’s decision stated that Hobby Lobby did not meet the legal standard for preventing them from complying with the government mandate. However, David Green, CEO and owner of Hobby Lobby disagrees, saying the lawsuit violates his family’s faith.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby as well as a number of other organizations and groups that have filed lawsuits against the contraceptive mandate, said in a Dec. 20 press release that “the Green family’s religious convictions prohibit them from providing or paying for the abortion-inducing drugs, the ‘morning-after’ and ‘week-after’ pills, which would violate their most deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception.”

Said the Becket Fund, “The business’s lawsuit acts to preserve its right to carry out its mission free from government coercion.”

If the ruling stands, the decision will cost Hobby Lobby approximately $1.3 million in fines daily. The company currently employs about 18,000 people, operating over 500 stores in 41 states.

Religious groups and businesses who, by weight of conscience, are choosing not to participate in the HHS mandate requiring them to provide abortifacients, artificial birth control, sterilization procedures and abortions as part of “health” care coverage, are now faced with massive fines from the government. The fines for non-compliance are $100 per day per employee. For some companies, that means millions in fines.

Eric Baxter, Senior Counsel for The Becket Fund, says

…the mandate places a “significant burden” on religious organizations’ ability to plan, budget and hire.

“Most organizations are already trying to get their insurance plans, for example, in the next year in place,” he said.

The lawyer noted that there is a “great deal of anxiety” because employers are subject to lawsuits from individuals who are not receiving required benefits under their health plans.

“That anxiety is only increasing as the implementation date approaches,” he said.

While some organizations have been given a reprieve from the mandate, there remains a strong sense of confusion among many as to whether or not they will be forced to comply, based on whether they are primarily “religious” or not. For instance, Tyndale House recently won a court case against having to participate in the HHS Mandate, but Hobby Lobby, a retail chain, faced a legal setback in its stance that the mandate violates the owners’ religious convictions.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver recently told EWTN that

The First Amendment is a promise that no one should have to choose between a public life and their religious integrity. Without the consent of our elected officials, the mandate can change in troubling ways. This kind of unchecked discrimination is dangerous.
Read more on the latest HHS news at the National Catholic Register’s “Becket Fund: Anxieties Mounting over Contraception Mandate.”

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.

 

 

It is alarmingly clear that so-called “Obamacare” has troubling implications for parents and children, not just employers with religious convictions regarding artificial birth control and abortion. According to an article in the National Catholic Register, Matt Bowman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, Obamacare

“tramples parental rights” because it requires them to “pay for and sponsor coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, contraception and education in favor of the same for their own children.”

To date, 26 states and the District of Columbia allow children 12 and older access to contraceptives without parental consent or notification. The state of Oregon currently allows children 15 and older to consent to sterilization.

Bowman pointed out the role of Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute (the former research branch of Planned Parenthood) in this part of the Obamacare mandate:

…the Guttmacher Institute and other abortion advocates explicitly advocated for this mandated coverage of minors so that access without parental involvement might be able to increase.”

The Guttmacher Institute, in a Sept. 1 briefing on state policies, said that an increase in minors’ access to reproductive health care over the last 30 years shows a broader recognition that “while parental involvement in minors’ health-care decisions is desirable, many minors will not avail themselves of important services if they are forced to involve their parents.”

In Michigan, according to the National Conference of State Legislature, the law

[p]rohibits anyone from either tattooing or performing a piercing on a minor without the prior written, informed consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian. Requires the parent or legal guardian to execute the consent in the presence of either the person performing the body piercing or tattooing on the minor or in the presence of an employee or agent of the individual.

In fact, 38 states prohibit minors from this type of procedure without parental consent. Yet, Obamacare will allow children to make the radical choice of sterilization at an age when most can’t make up their mind as to what to wear to school the next day.

Gloria Purvis, policy director at a major financial services company and a board member for the Northwest Pregnancy Center and Maternity Home, noted the damage this mandate will do in an interview with EWNT, “These things are not a cure for our social ills,” she said. “If anything, it makes it worse because it’s promoting the disintegration of the family…”

You can read more Acton Institute research regarding the HHS Mandate and Obamacare here.

Read the article at the National Catholic Register here.

A review of Rev. Robert Sirico’s Defending the Free Market is featured in the National Catholic Register, written by Fr. C. J. McCloskey. The National Catholic Register is reviewing a number of books, in an effort to help readers discern issues pertinent to the upcoming election.

In Fr. McCloskey’s review of Defending the Free Market, he notes:

Father Robert Sirico could not have written a timelier book than his latest, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy….Why do I say his book is timely? Because we are mired in the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, one that is all the worse for being global and that shows indications of worsening in the years ahead. All of this follows by a mere couple of decades the almost total collapse of Marxism throughout the world, with the fall of the Soviet Empire and its dependents.

Fr. McCloskey cites the warm anecdotes and biographical aspects of the book, drawing the reader into Fr. Sirico’s own journey to understanding the free market and the hope it presents to the world’s struggling economies. He goes on to say that, while the book certainly has global application, it is deeply rooted in American values.

Father Sirico quotes Alexis de Tocqueville — perhaps the greatest observer of the unique character of America — who observed, “Freedom is, in truth, a sacred thing; there is only one thing else that better deserves the name,” and that is virtue. And then he asks, “What is virtue if not the free choice of what is good?” Both Father Sirico’s masterful endeavors at the Acton Institute and this book contribute needed guidance to help our country reclaim its status as “exceptional and virtuous.”

Read the entire review of Defending the Free Market and the Register‘s other reviews here.

Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, has launched a new Center for Leadership which university alumnus Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., lauds as a project that “roots young men and women in virtue, forms them as leaders, and grounds them in sound philosophical thought.”

David Schmiesing, who directs the center and is also vice president of student life at Steubenville, said, “This is our most explicit and focused effort yet to train leaders for the Church and world.”

One of the resources provided to students through the Center is the university’s distinguished speakers series with the likes of Virtuous Leadership author Alexandre Havard and Acton Institute president and co-founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico, who is on the center’s board of advisors. Rev. Sirico spoke there on character, virtue, competence and vocation.

From the article by NCR writer Joseph Pronechen:

“We have a chance to speak with and meet with different distinguished speakers who have been all around the world studying incredible things,” said leadership student Camille Mica. “Getting the opportunity to talk with these speakers with such incredible credentials, I’ve learned a lot from them and been very encouraged and strengthened by their words and message and example.”

Though the leadership center will have a global outlook, Schmiesing noted that, ultimately, all leadership is local.

“If Catholic leaders don’t lead in their families, then all the other leadership is not going to be effective,” he said. “Leadership in the family is essential and applies to men and women. We’re teaching students in the center the skills, knowledge, virtues that will help them to be more effective in their families and then flow out to the churches, then to occupations.”

David Schmiesing is the brother of Acton Research Fellow Kevin Schmiesing.

Read “Training Leaders in Christian Virtue” on the website of the National Catholic Register.