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Hobby Lobby Artifacts Seized Before Getting to Bible Museum

Hobby Lobby Artifacts Seized Before Getting to Bible Museum
Cuneiform student writing tablet, ca. 1800 BC, displayed by Museum of the Bible.

By    |   Friday, 30 October 2015 08:04 AM

Steven Green and his family, Hobby Lobby's Christian owners, are under investigation for allegedly trying to sneak Biblical artifacts acquired in the Middle East back into the U.S., likely for the family's Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.

The Daily Beast reported Monday that U.S. Customs agents seized 200 to 300 small clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform, the script of ancient Assyria and Babylonia, on route from Israel to the Hobby Lobby headquarters in Oklahoma City in 2011.

The tablets likely originated in Iraq, much of which is now under siege by the Islamic State terror group.

According to The Washington Post, Hobby Lobby confirmed the investigation in a recent statement.

"Hobby Lobby is cooperating with the investigation related to certain biblical artifacts," it said. "The Museum of the Bible is a separate not-for-profit entity made possible, in part, by the generous charitable contributions of the Green family."

A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could neither confirm nor deny the investigation, but said such investigations are routine.

The tablets were supposed to be incorporated into some 40,000 artifacts owned by the Green family, many of which will go on display just two blocks from the National Mall in Washington D.C. in 2017, upon the opening of the family's Museum of the Bible.

Cary Summers, the president of the Museum of the Bible, said the tablets were "held up in customs" because of "incomplete paperwork." He suggested that it was a bureaucratic delay, saying, "Sometimes this stuff just sits, and nobody does anything with it."

An individual close to the investigation, however, told The Daily Beast that investigators have collected hundreds of hours of interviews, suggesting the 4-year-old case is more serious.

A source said that the shipping labels for the tablets were labeled as samples of "hand-crafted clay tiles." They were allegedly given a declared value of $300, skirting the customs scrutiny that comes with items with a declared value of over $2,500.

The Green's Christina faith has long informed the business of Hobby Lobby, which has grown to more than 500 stores across the nation since its founding in 1972. It is closed on Sundays, for example.

Last year, it became the subject of national headlines after it won a Supreme Court case against the White House over whether or not employers must provide health insurance that covers birth control.

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Steven Green and his family, Hobby Lobby's Christian owners, are under investigation for allegedly trying to sneak Biblical artifacts acquired in the Middle East back into the U.S., likely for the family's Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.
hobby lobby, artifacts, seized
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2015-04-30
Friday, 30 October 2015 08:04 AM
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