Hobby Lobby Agrees to Forfeit 5,500 Artifacts Smuggled Out of Iraq

According to a court filing, Hobby Lobby bought more than 5,500 artifacts for $1.6 million from an unnamed dealer in 2010.

CreditUnited States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

The packages that made their way from Israel and the United Arab Emirates to retail outlets owned by Hobby Lobby, the seller of arts and craft supplies, were clearly marked as tile samples.
But according to a civil complaint filed on Wednesday by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, they held something far rarer and more valuable: ancient clay cuneiform tablets that had been smuggled into the United States from Iraq.
Prosecutors said in the complaint that Hobby Lobby, whose evangelical Christian owners have long maintained an interest in the biblical Middle East, began in 2009 to assemble a collection of cultural artifacts from the Fertile Crescent. The company went so far as to send its president and an antiquities consultant to the United Arab Emirates to inspect a large number of rare cuneiform tablets — traditional clay slabs with wedge-shaped writing that originated in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago.
In 2010, as a deal for the tablets was being struck, an expert on cultural property law who had been hired by Hobby Lobby warned company executives that the artifacts might have been looted from historical sites in Iraq, and that failing to determine their heritage could break the law.
Despite these words of caution, the prosecutors said, Hobby Lobby bought more than 5,500 artifacts — the tablets and clay talismans and so-called cylinder seals — from an unnamed dealer for $1.6 million in December 2010.

In addition to the complaint, the prosecutors on Wednesday filed a stipulation of settlement with Hobby Lobby that requires the company to return all of the pieces, and to forfeit to the government an additional $3 million, resolving the civil action.
The government will post a notice online giving the artifacts’ owners 60 days to submit claims. After that, the Iraqi government can submit its own claim. The Justice Department will ultimately decide where the items go.
The agreement also requires Hobby Lobby to adopt internal policies to better govern its importation of cultural items, hire qualified customs brokers and advisers and submit quarterly reports to the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn describing in detail any further purchases of antiquities over the next 18 months.
In a statement, Hobby Lobby’s president, Steve Green, said the company had cooperated fully with the federal investigation into the deal for the artifacts.
Hobby Lobby’s purchase of the artifacts in December 2010 was fraught with “red flags,” according to the prosecutors. Not only did the company get conflicting information about the origin of the pieces, its representatives never met or spoke with the dealer who supposedly owned them, according to the complaint.

Instead, on the instructions of a second dealer, Hobby Lobby wired payments to seven separate personal bank accounts, the prosecutors said. The first dealer then shipped the items marked as clay or ceramic tiles to three Hobby Lobby sites in Oklahoma. All of the packages had labels falsely identifying their country of origin as Turkey, prosecutors said.
Over the years, Hobby Lobby has undertaken numerous efforts to promote evangelical Christianity, producing films with biblical themes, operating a chain of Christian bookstores and donating to Christian charities. In 2014, the company was the defendant in a landmark Supreme Court case that found forcing family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom.
Mr. Green said that Hobby Lobby’s collection of historical Bibles and artifacts like the tablets was “consistent with the company’s mission and passion for the Bible.” He added that the company had planned to display the items it bought in various museums and public institutions.
As for the smuggling allegations, Mr. Green said in the statement that Hobby Lobby was “new to the world of acquiring these items, and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process.” He added that “regrettable mistakes” were made and that he should have “exercised more oversight.”

NOTE: I suppose I could gloat over the criminal acts of Hobby Lobby, the uber-Christian organization who won a ruling from the Supreme Court that because the owners had such "closely held religious beliefs" that they could deny their female employees access to birth control........  Oh, hell.  Sure let me gloat for a moment.  Thus fucking organization and their fuctard owners raised such a stink over Obamacare requiring birth control coverage for employees that they sued the Obama Administration and prevailed.  So now this uber-Christian organization has been caught smuggling Iraqi artifacts in order to outfit their religious museum here in Washington that is under construction.   Yeah.  Real Christian types.  Naturally, the owners of Hobby Lobby have claimed that it was - just like in the case of Trump - just a mistake, just not knowing what the rules were about buying ancient religious artifacts.   Sure and I have a Republican created health care bill that's going to give every American excellent, cheap health insurance. 

I am shocked and saddened at just how far these co-called Christians have turned Christianity and it's practice into some sort of perverse, jihadist, self-righteous creed that is nothing Christ-like about it.    Me?  Yes, I'm very old school.  Even though it was many years ago - in the dark ages as my daughter - that I learned about Christianity in Sunday School, Summer Bible School, while attending Sunday Church Services, (and being bored to death!) I still believe in the very simple principles I learned way back then.  You know, like love thy neighbor.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  We are only as good as we treat the least among us.  People are fundamentally of good will.  

The brand of Christianity that I see today is not Christianity at all.  What it is, is a political movement, hijacked and aborted from Christ's teachings, by fundamentalists who are as despicable and wrong-headed as are Muslims who have perverted Islam into some sort of evil warrior religion.  

I want and do not accept any part of it.  

That's It For Today.    


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