So it turns out that when you have a large, family-owned private corporation that purports to be a Christian enterprise that has no problem using that religious belief to deny their employees benefits like birth control, that same corporation can also reference its religious beliefs in order to justify the theft of religiously significant artifact from other countries as well.
In 2010 and 2011, a series of packages were shipped to Hobby Lobby's headquarters or one of the craft retailer's affiliates. Shipping labels described the contents as clay tiles or tile samples of minimal value, but, according to federal prosecutors, they were actually valuable ancient artifacts of Iraqi origin being smuggled into the United States.
Hobby Lobby has now agreed to forfeit thousands of antiquities that it bought over the years — via a process that prosecutors say was "fraught with red flags" — and pay an additional $3 million to resolve any claims by the US government, according to court papers filed on Wednesday.
US laws restrict the import of Iraqi cultural items that were looted from Iraqi institutions or where "a reasonable suspicion exists that they were illegally removed." Iraq bars the export of antiquities and restricts private possession.
According to prosecutors, an expert hired by Hobby Lobby to advise the company on its acquisitions warned that antiquities likely from Iraq carried "considerable risk," and noted that hundreds of thousands of objects — including cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, which Hobby Lobby ultimately purchased — had been looted from Iraq since 1990.
So we're taking about stolen Iraqi artifacts looted from the pre-Desert Shield days of President Poppy Bush and the first Iraq War, and of course Hobby Lobby and Steve Green had zero ethical problems in obtaining these over the last 25 plus years. Providing insurance that covered birth control for their own employees, that however was worth going to the goddamn US Supreme Court over.
Hobby Lobby reached an agreement with the government to give up thousands of artifacts and to adopt new internal measures to make sure any future acquisitions comply with customs laws and regulations. The company will also have to file regular reports for 18 months about new purchases of "cultural property." Hobby Lobby did not admit any criminal wrongdoing.
Hobby Lobby said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News that the company "did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process," which led to "regrettable mistakes."
“We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled,” Hobby Lobby president Steve Green said in the statement. “Hobby Lobby has cooperated with the government throughout its investigation, and with the announcement of today’s settlement agreement, is pleased the matter has been resolved.”
The forfeiture comes as Green prepares to open the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, a project that he has spearheaded and that will reportedly feature items from his vast private collection of biblical artifacts. The forfeiture case filings don't mention the museum, but the company said in a statement on Wednesday that Hobby Lobby had been buying artifacts over the years to share "with the world in public institutions and museums."
So, we're talking about a billionaire (Steve's worth at least $5 billion according to Forbes) who is literally appropriating Iraqi culture for his own art collection but covering birth control for his own employees was a literal federal case.
Christian values indeed. And he's going to get away with it because he's going to open a museum with his stolen crap after getting slapped on the wrist for less than 0.1% of his net worth. And what makes this utterly, completely perfect is that "selling stolen Iraqi artifacts to morality-free Western billionaires" is pretty much the chief source of funding for the Islamic State, which is why even the Trump DoJ is involved with this.
That's right. Hobby Lobby is essentially funding ISIS through buying stolen antiquities.
Can't make this up, guys.
Also, I will never apologize for that post title. Ever.