Christian Company Hobby Lobby Smuggled Thousands of Iraqi Artifacts for Its Bible Museum, Because of Course They Did

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Filed under “somehow this is not actually from The Onion,” Hobby Lobby, the company so sanctimonious that it won a 2014 Supreme Court battle refusing to pay for employees’ birth control on religious grounds, straight-up paid for the pilfering of Iraq’s cultural heritage. Yay, hypocrisy!

In a settlement of its smuggling case, Hobby Lobby must pay $3 million dollars and return the priceless ancient artifacts to Iraq. US Attorneys had accused the arts and crafts chain store of smuggling clay tablets and other objects as “tile samples” and “ceramic tiles,” which is just so infuriating I’m having trouble typing straight.

Hobby Lobby is building a massive Bible museum in Washington, D.C., and apparently felt their mission was so divine they could just go ahead and loot the ancient world of its treasures wherever they damn well pleased.

Then they tried to plead ignorance and shift the blame elsewhere. “The company imprudently relied on dealers and shippers who, in hindsight, did not understand the correct way to document and ship these items,” Hobby Lobby said in a statement, as though they did not knowingly order, pay for, and then unwrap and keep those thousands of “mislabeled” objects. Sure, it was all the shippers’ fault! Labels are hard, you guys. It’s not like they were trying to hide a highly illegal and morally disgraceful activity.

Hobby Lobby knew exactly what they were doing. Per the BBC:

“[P]rosecutors said the company was warned by an expert that such items from Iraq were likely to have been looted from archaeological sites and needed to be carefully verified.

But the company purchased some 5,500 artefacts despite the warning, spending $1.6m.

Prosecutors said the purchase “was fraught with red flags”, and the company never met the dealer, working with a middleman instead, and making the payments to seven private bank accounts.”

Just like Jesus would have done!

Hobby Lobby’s smuggling is particularly terrible and ironic because often such looted artifacts are used to fund terrorist groups, who seize and deal them on the black market. So while Hobby Lobby is so holier-than-thou they refuse to pay for contraception for their thousands of employees (just like Jesus would have done!), they’re not above slipping some money in ISIS’ direction.

We live in such a mad world now this news will likely disappear after the recent headlines, but I for one won’t forget it. I already vowed to never set foot in a Hobby Lobby after their Supreme Court case; now, as I stroll past, I can add that I don’t particularly care to give my hard-earned cash to buy arts and crafts supplies from supporters of cultural plunder and quite possibly terrorism. Michael’s is better anyway.

(via BBC, image: Shutterstock)

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.