Hobby Lobby has issues with women using birth control. They say it goes against their “religious beliefs.” But illegally smuggling ancient artifacts out of Iraq? I guess Jesus is all cool with that one.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that Hobby Lobby must turn over 5,500 ancient religious artifacts that were smuggled out of Iraq. The craft store must also pay a $3 million fine and work to correct their practices of purchasing “cultural property.”
The DOJ put out a statement, saying,
“Earlier today, the United States filed a civil complaint to forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae. As alleged in the complaint, these ancient clay artifacts originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, contrary to federal law. Packages containing the artifacts were shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.”
“The government also filed a stipulation of settlement with Hobby Lobby, in which Hobby Lobby consented to the forfeiture of the artifacts in the complaint, approximately 144 cylinder seals and an additional sum of $3 million, resolving the civil action…[Hobby Lobby will also] submit quarterly reports to the government on any cultural property acquisitions for the next eighteen months.”
In 2010, Hobby Lobby was warned that the artifacts they were about to purchase were likely illegally looted from Iraqi archaeological sites. But they chose to spend $1.6 million to buy them anyway.
That means Hobby Lobby lost the $1.6 million they paid, then were fined another $3 million, and lost all the artifacts on top of it.
Hobby Lobby said they bought the artifacts to demonstrate their “passion for the Bible.”
The artifacts were smuggled out of Iraq into the United Arab Emirates and Israel. When the thousands of artifacts were delivered to Hobby Lobby they came in boxes with labels that “falsely and misleadingly described their contents.”
But when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted several of the shipments, Hobby Lobby was busted.
Hobby Lobby’s president Steve Green said in a statement,
“We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled.”
“The Company was new to the world of acquiring these items, and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process. This resulted in some regrettable mistakes. The Company imprudently relied on dealers and shippers who, in hindsight, did not understand the correct way to document and ship these items. However, since learning of these errors, the Company has been an active participant with the government’s investigation and supports its efforts to protect the world’s ancient heritage.”
Hobby Lobby is working on a project now to build the Museum of the Bible which is scheduled to open later this year in Washington.