Oops! “Good Christian” arts-and-crafts company Hobby Lobby has been caught smuggling priceless black market Iraqi artifacts into this country for its ... wait for it, like the artifacts, its priceless ... Bible museum. And now Hobby Lobby must pay $3 million in fines, and turn over the stolen goods, to settle a federal case.
In a statement, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green acknowledged "regrettable mistakes":
"We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled."
I guess they didn’t think buying these religious items from some dude in an overcoat who dragged them from the trunk of his car in Alphabet City wasn’t clue enough? I kid; Hobby Lobby went to the Middle East to steal these things.
Green says Hobby Lobby fully cooperated with the investigation ... after they were caught illegally buying these items.
In 2009, Hobby Lobby—best known for its Supreme Court victory in a 2014 religious freedom case over banning their insured employees from using their insurance for contraception—decided to amass a collection of books and artifacts "consistent with the Company’s mission and passion for the Bible" to place in a Bible museum they bankrolled to the tune of $500 million. So they illegally purchased some of their Biblical memorabilia when Green and a consultant traveled to the United Arab Emirates to inspect cuneiform tablets that were thousands of years old, along with engraved seals and the clay impressions they made; Green purchased the looted items for some $1.6 million.
And, you know, most if not all of that wound up in the hands of ISIS, who has received hundreds of millions of dollars annually in funding from selling stolen antiques like the ones acquired by Hobby Lobby on the black market.
Hobby Lobby Funds Terrorism. How’s that for the headline?
According to the civil complaint, an expert, hired by Hobby Lobby, warned Green that there was a risk the items it wanted to buy had been looted; that expert told Green to make sure the country of origin was properly labeled on customs forms. Instead, Green shipped the 5,500 artifacts without proper documentation, with labels describing them as "ceramic tiles" or "samples" from Turkey or Israel.
And Hobby Lobby never even paid the dealer who supposedly owned the items, but instead wired $1.6 million in payments to seven other individuals. So, clearly, they knew they were buying stolen goods, but hey, it’s for a Bible museum so God will not have a problem with it, right?
Green maintains that Hobby Lobby didn't know the items were from Iraq ... but, again, why lie about what they were and where they were from ... and has vowed to put safeguards in place to ensure future acquisitions are properly vetted... so they don’t get caught lying, cheating, and stealing again.
Oh, Hobby Lobby, what would Jesus do with you?