Retail

Hobby Lobby Pays $3M in Iraqi Artifact Smuggling Case

Arts and craft megastore Hobby Lobby is in hot water.

After buying Iraqi archeological artifacts back in 2010, the Christian-based retail chain is paying a $3-million fine as federal prosecutors say these may have been stolen from a war-torn country. Hobby Lobby bought more than 5,000 artifacts for $1.6 million and is now required to not only pay the fine but to also return everything.

Hobby Lobby’s President Steve Green has been collecting ancient artifacts to help build an $800-million Bible museum in Washington. Many are accusing the retail chain of hypocrisy because it won a Supreme Court ruling on religious freedom not too long ago and is now embroiled in a religious-related scandal.

The company is claiming it was unaware of the complex process of legally acquiring religious artifacts, but the cuneiform tablets were labeled as ceramic tiles and were said to have come from Turkey or Israel to get around U.S. customs regulations. These artifacts were also shipped in small groups to the company’s Oklahoma City headquarters so as to not attract attention.

In a statement to the public, Hobby Lobby shared its regret in the way it obtained the ancient religious artifacts.  “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.”

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