The crafts company Hobby Lobby has been fined $3 million and asked to return over 5,000 stolen artifacts to Iraq. The name of the company may be familiar to some because they were behind a victorious lawsuit that went all the way to the US Supreme Court because they argued that the religious beliefs of the owners of the company should allow them to not provide contraceptive coverage in the employees’ health insurance policies. Yes, the family that owns the company consists of religious zealots.
So why would a craft company want to purchase antiquities from Iraq? Because the owners want to build a Bible museum near the National Mall in Washington, DC and they needed stuff to show there. Of course, being the pious types they are, they are shocked, shocked I tell you, that they were indulging in illegal activities when they purchased these items of dubious provenance from shadowy figures.
The company’s president, Steve Green, is the chairman and founder of the Museum of the Bible, which is under construction in Washington, D.C.
The artifacts being forfeited include cuneiform tablets and bricks, clay bullae and cylinder seals. Cuneiform is an ancient system of writing on clay tablets.
“At no time did Hobby Lobby ever purchase items from dealers in Iraq or from anyone who indicated that they acquired items from that country,” Green said in his statement. “Hobby Lobby condemns such conduct and has always acted with the intent to protect ancient items of cultural and historical importance. …
“We have accepted responsibility and learned a great deal,” Green added, saying that the company has now “implemented acquisition policies and procedures based on the industry’s highest standards.”
That plea of ignorance may have been plausible except that experts had warned them of the dangers of buying looted items and to be careful. But being the good Christians they are, they said the hell with it and ignored those warnings in their greed to get their hands on potential museum items.
Federal prosecutors say that when Hobby Lobby, which is based in Oklahoma City, began assembling its collection it was warned by an expert on cultural property law to be cautious in acquiring artifacts from Iraq, which in some cases have been looted from archaeological sites.
Despite that warning and other red flags the company in December 2010 purchased thousands of items from a middle-man, without meeting the purported owner, according to prosecutors.
Instead of antiquities, the Bible museum should instead mount screens all over that show Eddie Izzard clips about religion and Christianity, such as the one below.
If Ken Ham had put in clips where Izzard talks about the Ark into the Ark Museum in Kentucky, that would be a lot more fun and ensure higher attendance than the numbers Ham is complaining about.