Nearly 4,000 ill-gotten artifacts acquired by Hobby Lobby, a company run by Christian fanatics David Green and his wife for their ridiculous Museum of the Bible in Washington DC, were returned to Iraq this week.
According to this report, the ancient objects were illegally bought by Hobby Lobby, a national chain of arts and crafts stores, then smuggled into the US in violation of federal law.
An “expert on cultural property law” had warned Hobby Lobby that artifacts from Iraq, including cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, could be stolen from archaeological sites. The expert also told the company to search its collections for objects of Iraqi origin and make sure that those materials were properly identified.
But despite that warning Hobby Lobby arranged to purchase thousands of antiquities — including cuneiform tablets and bricks, clay bullae and cylinder seals — for $1.6 million.
Some artifacts from the UAE bore shipping labels that falsely described them as “ceramic tiles” or “clay tiles (sample)” originating in Turkey. Other items were sent from Israel with a false declaration that they were from there.
In its statement, the Department of Justice said the “acquisition of the Artifacts was fraught with red flags.” Hobby Lobby employees did not meet the owner and dealer of the artifacts, and wired payments to seven bank accounts held in other people’s names.
In July 2017 after the Justice Department filed a complaint, Hobby Lobby agreed to pay a $3-million (£2.2-million) fine and surrender the artifacts.
Hobby Lobby did not receive all of the 5,500 pieces that it bought. According to the stipulations in the settlement, the company has agreed to notify the government if it learns the whereabouts of any of those other artifacts. It also agreed to turn over any pieces that it receives.
Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, above, son of David and Barbara Green, said in written statement last year:
We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled.
And he offered this excuse:
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. The Company imprudently relied on dealers and shippers who, in hindsight, did not understand the correct way to document and ship these items.
However, since learning of these errors, the Company has been an active participant with the government’s investigation and supports its efforts to protect the world’s ancient heritage.
We have accepted responsibility and learned a great deal. Our entire team is committed to the highest standards for investigating and acquiring these items. Our passion for the Bible continues, and we will do all that we can to support the efforts to conserve items that will help illuminate and enhance our understanding of this Great Book.
We are seeing that the current administration with President Trump is a friend of religious freedom and has taken steps to strengthen and confirm that we are a nation that values the freedoms our founders gave us.
Also in 2013 David Green walked off with the John M Templeton Award for Biblical Values, sponsored by the National Bible Association.
According to this report, David Green who went to war in 2014 over Obamacare, has been described by Forbes magazine as “the largest evangelical benefactor in the world”, and says that his entire $5.1-billion (£3-billion) empire belongs to God.
He told Forbes:
If you have anything or if I have anything, it’s because it’s been given to us by our Creator. So I have learned to say, ‘Look, this is yours, God. It’s all yours. I’m going to give it to you.’
Coming from a family of preachers, Green says that:
You can’t have a belief system on Sunday and not live it the other six days.
He has spoken many times about the Christian belief underpinning his businesses, and told ChristiaNet:
All the things we do, all our behavior, should let others know that we are living by, and operating in, Biblical principles. Principle and character are the highest quality traits on our list.
The Museum of the Bible, which spans 430,000 square-foot in what was once a refrigerated warehouse, opened last November and received $201 million (£147-million) in artifacts from Hobby Lobby.