Hobby Lobby Fined for Smuggling Iraqi Artifacts as Tile Samples

The well-known store chain, Hobby Lobby is facing some serious heat, and fines, for illegally smuggling thousands of Iraqi artifacts. The franchise, famously owned by an Evangelical Christian family, reportedly paid 1.6 million dollars for the 5,500 items. The Oklahoma tycoon agreed to a plea deal and a fine of 3 million dollars, which some say is merely a slap on the wrist for a company that pulls in an estimated 4 billion per year. 

Steve Green, Hobby Lobby’s President blamed the incident on inexperience and improper cataloging, but it wasn’t the first time that the chain has gotten into trouble over questionable artifacts. In 2010, Hobby Lobby, was questioned for purchasing Mesopotamian clay tablets that may have been illegally acquired for a Museum of the Bible, which the company is backing.

An investigation into the most recent incident has raised suspicions of smuggling. The company could have suffered much more than a fine, but a deal with the Department of Justice will allow the chain to keep its assets. 

The company was made news in 2014 when it fought for, and won, religious exception for the Affordable Care Act’s Contraception Mandate- a law which would require employers to cover contraception for its employees. 

In addition to breaking the law, the franchise is being accused of destroying historical artifacts- given the fact that tablets were not transported legally.