Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts store run by conservative, Evangelical Christians has been caught smuggling nearly 5,500 ancient artifacts from the Middle East according to a civil complaint filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.
The report from the New York Times says that Hobby Lobby had at one time during their dealings hired an antiquities expert to advise them and they did in fact advise the company alert them to the fact that buying artifacts without knowing the source would be breaking the law. More than just breaking the law, the looting and selling of antiquities in Iraq has been definitively linked to funding terrorism. A 2015 article by the Financial Times describes the trade:
There is nothing new about looting in the world of archaeology. Nor is it novel for terrorists to fund their activities from the sale of cultural artefacts. What is new, however, is the massive and mechanised scale of digging that is going on in areas now controlled by Isis. Isis operates in what is arguably the richest archaeological arena in the world, an area that scholars often refer to as the cradle of civilisation. Ancient sites at Nimrud, Nineveh and Hatra have been destroyed and experts suspect that artefacts from such places have flooded the black market.
The New York Times piece does not specifically address the possibility that Hobby Lobby’s purchases went on to fund ISIL, a terrorist organization that the religious right in America particularly likes to remind people is engaged in the genocide of Iraqi Christians. Perhaps none of their money did end up in the hands of these Christian killers, only a thorough investigation would reveal that. But how very interesting that the report indicated Hobby Lobby wasn’t all that interested in soliciting those kinds of assurances.
What Hobby Lobby does say is they are super super new to to the acquisition of Biblical antiquities and should have done more to cover their tra– I mean…um…practice more oversight. Like maybe not intentionally mislabelling the artifacts as “tile samples”. Whoopsy?