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article imageOp-Ed: Feds investigate Hobby Lobby for importing looted Bible artifacts

By Megan Hamilton     Oct 28, 2015 in World
Oklahoma City - An investigation is being conducted into whether the owners of Hobby Lobby smuggled stolen artifacts for their planned Museum of the Bible.
As many as 300 small clay tablets were headed to Hobby Lobby headquarters in Oklahoma city from Israel in 2011.
Then the tablets were seized in Memphis by U.S. Customs officials, The Daily Beast reports.
The tablets are graced by the cuneiform script of ancient Assyria and Babylonia in present-day Iraq, and are thousands of years old.
A senior law enforcement official confirmed the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, has been under investigation since 2011 for allegedly importing antiquities from Iraq illegally, Raw Story reports.
Hobby Lobby CEO David Green and his family own about 40,000 biblical artifacts that they plan to display when the museum opens in Washington, D.C., in 2017.
From its inception in 1970, the family's Hobby Lobby chain has run its business on Christian values, The Daily Beast reports. Stores are closed on Sundays so that employees can attend church, and the Greens use Hobby Lobby as a vessel to reinforce the Christian message in full page ads far and wide in order to celebrate "the real meaning of Christmas, Easter, and Independence Day," (their words), across the U.S.
But let's rewind a bit. In 2014, winning the Supreme Court case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby gained the most notoriety for the Greens. It granted them exemption from Obamacare's famous mandate to provide certain types of birth control to their employees. Forcing the company to do this would have violated the Greens' Christian beliefs, the Court ruled.
Now let's fast-forward. David Green, Jezebel reports, has been seemingly unconcerned when asked if the artifacts were obtained through illicit means.
"Is it possible that we have some [illicit] artifacts? That's possible," he told journalists Candida Moss and Joel Baden, who wrote the piece for The Daily Beast.
Then there's Cary Summers, president of the museum, who confirmed "both the seizure of the cuneiform tablets and the subsequent federal investigation." The museum is being funded by the Greens. He makes this sound like this massive, four-year investigation is just the result of logistical errors, or perhaps "incomplete paperwork" even though hundreds of hours worth of interviews have been conducted regarding the artifacts, Jezebel noted, citing The Daily Beast. Which certainly makes this sound like something more than a logistical goof.
Not only that, but the tablets were hugely undervalued as being worth $300, a common ploy that's used when "someone looking to bring antiquities into the U.S. knows that the artifacts should never have left their country of origin."
The Green family has amassed a fortune worth $4.5 billion since opening the craft store in 1970, and if they are prosecuted, it's likely they will have to surrender the tablets to federal investigators and pay a fine, The New York Post reports. With this much wealth, a fine isn't likely to seriously dent their financial well-being, The Daily Beast notes. However, since this family and the company they founded have based their reputation on a a particular set of Christian values, this investigation may well be more painful than any financial punishment could be.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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