Federal authorities are currently investigating the owners of Hobby Lobby for illegally importing stolen artifacts from Iraq which they plan to display at their soon-to-be constructed Museum of the Bible.
Agents from the U.S. Customs Service seized up to 300 small clay tablets which had been shipped from Israel to Hobby Lobby corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City.
A senior law enforcement official said that the Green family, which owns the arts and crafts retailer, has been under investigation for the last four years for illegally importing cultural artifacts from Iraq.
As you may recall, the Green family won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case which allowed them to withhold contraception from their employee health benefits because it supposedly violated their religious beliefs.
The Museum of the Bible is planned for construction two blocks from the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Green family owns some 40,000 biblical artifacts they plan to display when their museum opens in 2017. CEO Steve Green said the reason for the Bible museum was simple:
“I think seeing the biblical foundations of our nation–for our legislators to see that, that a lot of that was biblically based, that we have religious freedoms today, which are a biblical concept, it can’t hurt being (two blocks from the National Mall).”
As for the seized tablets, Cary Summers, the president of the Museum of the Bible, remarked:
“There was a shipment and it had improper paperwork—incomplete paperwork that was attached to it.”
So are we to believe that it was just a matter of the wrong paperwork? A source close to the investigation said that was total bunk, commenting that the clay tablets were described on their FedEx shipping labels as “hand-crafted clay tiles” with a value of about $300 each — significantly less than their true worth. Additionally, the source also said the labels do not indicate that the artifacts are part of the cultural heritage of Iraq.
Perhaps the Green family and the curators of the Museum of the Bible need to reminded of two of the Ten Commandments:
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not covet
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org.