A small business run by practicing Catholics has prevailed over the big government of President Obama. By “small” I mean small enough (under 50) so that it could evade the Obama birth control mandate simply by not providing health insurance. But it wanted to provide health insurance coverage, so it took Obama and Company to court by claiming their right to practice their religion in accord with the First Amendment.
This case has special significance for me. One day some years ago when Sheila and I were still leading CCL, a generous donation arrived from someone completely unknown to any of us. It was from a former quasi-fundamentalist Protestant minister who first learned about our work from an Episcopalian minister with whom he was doing social work. The minister gave him some copies of our CCL magazine. Reading them, our friend told himself, “This is good stuff and it’s Catholic,” and then he realized that he had never previously used the words “good” and “Catholic” in the same sentence.
When he and his wife had married, it never occurred to him that there could be a moral issue about birth control; it was just a matter of what method to use. But he was a convinced Christian with an open heart and mind, and when he saw the Christian case against contraception and for natural family planning when needed, he (and she) embraced it. Then they decided that if the Catholic Church was right on this issue, they owed it either to the Church or to themselves to investigate the truth claims of the Church. Once again their open hearts and open minds were enlightened by the grace of Faith, and they entered into full communion with the Church. Wayne and Patty Hepler became practicing Catholics
Eventually, we invited Mr. Hepler to be on the CCL Board of Directors, and he later served as its Chairman for several years. Then, while still very much interested in our efforts to support Humanae Vitae, he also saw a need for another apostolate, and he founded and built the St. Thomas More retreat center. The family hardwood business continued to flourish, and it provides employees with health insurance that excludes any coverage for abortion and contraception.
With the imposition of the Obama HHS birth control mandate, the Hepler business filed suit for protection from the mandate so that they could continue to exercise their First Amendment rights of the free exercise of their religion.
On April 19, 2013 Judge Joy Flowers Conti of the U.S. District Court for the Western District for Pennsylvania ruled in favor of plaintiffs Wayne Hepler and Carrie Kolesar, his oldest daughter. I understand that this is the first such case decided on First Amendment grounds, and that provides great hope for many others in similar situations.
Congratulations to Wayne and Patty Hepler, their children, and their employees for their fidelity and perseverance, and to their attorney for a job well done.
You can read more about this at http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/health-care/item/15189-family-run-businesses-successfully-defend-faith-against-obamacare-mandate. It first appeared at www.LifeNews.com, but I was unable to find it there today. However, that site’s archives has several previous articles on this subject dating back to September 2012.