Hobby Lobby’s hobby: smuggling artifacts
Turns out, there’s a pretty strict return policy on pillaged artifacts.
A New York district court has ordered arts and crafts chain, Hobby Lobby, to hand over thousands of rare antiquities it purchased from a questionable dealer in Iraq back in 2010.
How in the hell did a place that sells scrapbooks, silk flowers and throw pillows get embroiled in such a scandalous plot?
Well, for one, Hobby Lobby’s president, Steve Green, is a
kinda strange man fervent artifact collector. In fact, one might say he has an obsession: to-date, he’s spent more than $500m building a 430k square-foot Bible museum, which includes — among other things — Elvis Presley’s personal copy.
Back in 2010, Green took a little trek to the UAE to secretly meet with an antiquities “consultant.” While there, he was “informally” presented with 5,548 artifacts — ya know, just casually — including ancient tablets worthy of an Indiana Jones reprise.
Apparently he liked what he saw
Green had Hobby Lobby wire him $1.6m to pay for the goods, then stuffed everything into boxes labeled “Tiles (Sample)” and shipped them back to the States.
But, Hobby Lobby was caught — last week the company was hit with a $3m fine, and ordered to forfeit all of the artifacts.
This isn’t their first time in the courtroom
In 2012, the company sued the United States for requiring all employers to cover emergency contraceptives, on the grounds that it interfered with their Christian beliefs. The case went to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled in the company’s favor.
A day after craft chain Hobby Lobby agreed to pay a $3 million fine and return smuggled Iraqi artifacts, two professors called on the company to reveal the source of thousands of other antiquities in its massive Bible-themed collection.
The evangelical Christian family that owns the retail firm has spent tens of millions of dollars amassing 40,000 ancient items but hasn’t publicly identified the provenance of most of them, said Candida Moss and Joel Baden, academics who co-wrote the forthcoming book, “Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby.”
That’s a problem, Moss said Thursday, because “if you don’t know where the item you have bought came from or who it was legally sold to … it’s possible that item was stolen.”
And HL’s latest transgression has a larger implication: ISIS routinely loots and sells artifacts in the region, which has caused some to point out that Hobby Lobby — could’ve funded terrorism with their purchase. (Ruh-Roh!!)
Am I surprised?
notsomuch~ I mean their stores are filled with Chinese knock offs of handmade products originated from the handmade and boutique communities~integrity and ethics don’t seem to be high on their list of company policies although they’d claim otherwise. Many craft chains like Hobby Lobby take stolen ideas pilfered from hard working makers, and turn around and send them to factories overseas, mass produce them and take the products and market them in their stores for less than I could probably buy the supplies to create such things. Hobby Lobby is part of the problem in undermining the handmade ecosystem, to be honest.
and while you’re at it, take a peek at this article written about ethical hypocrisy at the highest levels of Hobby Lobby’s management when selling goods manufactured in China, but espousing objections to certain requirements of Obamacare on the grounds of Religious beliefs: (I found that an interesting read)
Hobby Lobby imports billions of dollars of products from China. Don’t take my word for it. Walk into its stores and turn its items over and you’ll clearly see: “Made In China.”
Now there are those that have mentioned this specific hypocrisy before, but I would like to go further. Let’s look at how China, its government, and specifically its treatment of its people is completely contrary not only to the very issues that Hobby Lobby claims to have issues with, but that the Bible clearly speaks out against as well.
We all know that China is a communist nation, and doesn’t allow its people to have the freedom to worship freely. According to a new annual report from ChinaAid (a Texas based organization that monitors religious freedom), persecution of Chinese Christians not only continues, but increased this past year. There were 134 cases of persecution reported; many people fear retaliation if they make claims of their abuse.
And although the one child policy was technically lifted, abandonment and selective killing of female babies continues. Forced abortion, although technically frowned upon by the government, is still a regular practice in China. Is the disruption of creation of life only relevant as a Christian when it’s an American life?
And what about the factories those people work at in China, those factories that make the products Hobby Lobby buys and then sells. The people of China who work in factories are exposed to a variety of dangerous working conditions. They are victims of unfair calculations of work time and low wages. Their employers often fail to pay for insurance or pay for injuries that are work related.
It seems Hobby Lobby’s in some hot water… but again….