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Hobby Lobby being investigated for smuggling a lot of ancient artifacts

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By Walter Einenkel

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Hobby Lobby, the pious big box store that has never forgiven Eve for getting them kicked out of the Garden of Eden, is under investigation. Are they under investigation for being terrible employers? No. Are they under investigation for possibly illegally smuggling ancient Biblical artifacts out of Iraq?
Yes, says The Daily Beast:
"In 2011, a shipment of somewhere between 200 to 300 small clay tablets on their way to Oklahoma City from Israel was seized by U.S. Customs agents in Memphis. The tablets were inscribed in cuneiform -- the script of ancient Assyria and Babylonia, present-day Iraq -- and were thousands of years old. Their destination was the compound of the Hobby Lobby corporation, which became famous last year for winning a landmark Supreme Court case on religious freedom and government mandates. A senior law enforcement source with extensive knowledge of antiquities smuggling confirmed that these ancient artifacts had been purchased and were being imported by the deeply-religious owners of the crafting giant, the Green family of Oklahoma City. For the last four years, law enforcement sources tell The Daily Beast, the Greens have been under federal investigation for the illicit importation of cultural heritage from Iraq."
[my emphasis]

There is question as to what the nature of the "delay" is. According to the Museum of the Bible, where the cuneiform tablets were meant to arrive, this is a paperwork issue. The Green Collection is the Museum of the Bible:

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"When the Green family, founders of U.S. retail chain Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., purchased their first biblical artifact in November 2009, they never expected to assemble in only a few years what is now one of the world's largest private collections of rare biblical texts, objects, and artifacts.

"Known as the Green Collection, the compilation of around 40,000 objects includes some of the rarest and most significant biblical texts and artifacts ever assembled under one roof. Highlights of the Green Collection include cuneiform tablets dating from the time of Abraham, Dead Sea Scroll fragments, biblical papyri and manuscripts, Torah scrolls, and rare printed Bibles."

The collection also travels, not only around the United States, but all over the world. However, according to The Daily Beast's source:
"If someone looking to bring antiquities into the U.S. knows that the artifacts should never have left their country of origin, or lack proper provenance, the only way to get them through customs is to lie: about the country of origin, about the country of export, about the value, about the identity. (This happened recently in the case of a Picasso worth $15 million, which was listed on the customs declaration as a "handicraft" worth $37.) One source familiar with the Hobby Lobby investigation told us that this is precisely what happened in this case: The tablets were described on their FedEx shipping label as samples of "hand-crafted clay tiles." This description may have been technically accurate, but the monetary value assigned to them -- around $300, we're told -- vastly underestimates their true worth, and, just as important, obscures their identification as the cultural heritage of Iraq.
[emphasis mine]

One of the best things about the ultra religious is how profoundly hypocritical they are when it comes to following their purported faith. There is no doubt that the Green collection has some illegally obtained artifacts -- frankly, there isn't a museum in the world that isn't filled with stolen and/or fake art. But those museums don't really pretend to have any morality.

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