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Artefacts for Museum of the Bible were looted from Iraq

Artefacts for Museum of the Bible were looted from Iraq

This autumn will see the official opening in Washington DC of the Museum of the Bible, which, according to this this report, will house over 40,000 artefacts.

Founder of Hobby Lobby, The Green Family, first started off with a handful of items. Now, with multiple resources, and organizations assisting and helping in the work, what is being accumulated is simply breathtaking.

Breathtaking … and in the case of several thousand of the artefacts, totally illegal.

The BBC reports that Christian-owned Hobby Lobby has been forced to forfeit artifacts it had obtained from dodgy dealers and shippers, and pay $3m (£2.3m) in a settlement.

US attorneys say Hobby Lobby violated federal law by importing thousands of clay tablets and tokens as “tile samples”.

Hobby Lobby said it “did not fully appreciate the complexities” of the import process when it began, adding:

The company imprudently relied on dealers and shippers who, in hindsight, did not understand the correct way to document and ship these items.

But prosecutors said the company was warned by an expert that such items from Iraq were likely to have been looted from archaeological sites and needed to be carefully verified. Despite the warning, the company purchased some 5,500 artefacts for $1.6m.

The agent in charge of the customs investigation, Angel Melendez said:

While some may put a price on these artefacts, the people of Iraq consider them priceless.

The ancient artefacts were smuggled into the US through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel to Hobby Lobby’s Oklahoma offices, with falsified shipping labels claiming the packages contained “ceramic tiles” that originated from Turkey and Israel.

Prosecutors said the purchase “was fraught with red flags”, and the company never met the dealer, working with a middleman instead, and making the payments to seven private bank accounts.

The company’s president, Steve Green, is also chairman of the Museum of the Bible. At 430,000 sq ft (40,000 sq m), it will be one of the largest museums in the city.

The museum’s website says its collections will:

Convey the global impact and compelling history of the Bible in a unique and powerful way.

Hobby Lobby said in a statement:

Developing a collection of historically and religiously important books and artefacts about the Bible is consistent with the Company’s mission and passion for the Bible. The Company was new to the world of acquiring these items, and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process. This resulted in some regrettable mistakes.

Green also said the company never purchased items directly from within Iraq, but has “learned a great deal” from the investigation.

Our passion for the Bible continues, and we will do all that we can to support the efforts to conserve items that will help illuminate and enhance our understanding of this great book.

Hobby Lobby is well-known for being at the centre of a 2014 US Supreme Court battle over its refusal to provide contraception for its female employees on religious grounds.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

17 responses to “Artefacts for Museum of the Bible were looted from Iraq”

  1. barriejohn says:

    Hobby Lobby said it “did not fully appreciate the complexities” of the import process.

    Yeah – sure.

  2. S Pimpernel says:

    Green should be in jail. Importing artefacts from Iraq labelled as ceramic tiles from Israel and Turkey. That’s exactly how smugglers do it. Another commandment (false witness) ignored by hypocritical bible thumpers.

  3. L.Long says:

    These hate-filled women hating aholes knew very well what was going down! Too bad I can’t be on the jury if it goes to court, they would pay!

  4. StephenJP says:

    Hobby Lobby is a fundamentalist Christian company. Does anyone seriously believe that it is willing or able to present an impartial and scholarly picture of the Big Book of Magic Stuff? That they will present the evidence about the extent to which it depends on earlier texts, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Hittite and Phoenaecian sources? Or current theories about the origin and dating of the earliest Gospels? Or those that suggest the few “genuine”epistles originated in second-century Marcionism?

    I’m not holding my breath.

  5. barriejohn says:

    StephenJP: Exactly! Whenever Christians say that they offer an “educational exhibition” or the like you know that what they are talking about is indoctrination, or why else would they be interested? I have personal experience of this myself amongst the Brethren in Great Britain (especially Counties Evangelists, qv), but you only have to google “Bible Exhibition” to see just what is going on up and down the land. How headteachers are hoodwinked into allowing fundamentalist Christians access to their charges I have no idea, though I do know that many are believers themselves, so would be quite happy about it.

    http://www.birminghamcitymission.org.uk/re-exhibitions-for-schools/

  6. barriejohn says:

    Just cast your eyes over this little lot!

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=schools+bible+exhibition&oq=schools+bible+exhibition&aqs=chrome..69i57.6564j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

  7. RussellW says:

    StephenJP

    Yes. Many of those cuneiform texts indicate how the writers of the Bible plagiarized earlier Mesopotamian myths. The management of Hobby Lobby is probably too ignorant to understand that point.

  8. barriejohn says:

    Even in the Bible, the Genesis story isn’t the oldest Creation myth:

    http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/.premium-1.678408

  9. Italian Scallion says:

    The bible is nothing more than a bunch of bull crap that people of extremely limited intelligence believe. All Christians need to grow up and face reality.

  10. barriejohn says:

    StephenJP: Evangelical Christians are generally well aware of the other Middle Eastern myths, and of “allegations” that the Biblical tales derived from them. Their usual explanation is that the Genesis account was the original, and that others, if not copied from it, are the result of a sort of collective unconscious, whereby ancient peoples had a folk memory of the “real” creation story. They use this same argument when it is pointed out to them that events pertaining to the life of Jesus are quite obviously derived from other religious traditions of the era. They may even allege that their god “planted” these ideas in people’s minds at the dawn of time, so that that is why they crop up in many religions.

    Take a look at this, for example:

    https://answersingenesis.org/creationism/creation-myths/is-genesis-1-11-a-derivation-from-ancient-myths/

    Christians should not be surprised to see people groups all over the world with their own accounts of the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, men of great ages, and even the Tower of Babel. The accounts can tell us people once had the same record or eyewitness of a common event handed down from a generation that was once congregated in the same place at the same time.

    Never mind evidence, just make up facts that fit your theory!

  11. RussellW says:

    barriejohn,
    Unfortunately for Christians, the creation myths of other religions are often very different from the Bible’s version, particularly in the concept of how time is measured. They’re drawing a longbow.

  12. Brian Jordan says:

    Thanks barriejohn – well worth the trouble of signing up for limited access to Haaretz.
    For anyone who can digest loads of this, you can find a copy of Robert Graves & Raphael Patai’s Hebrew Myths- The Book of Genesis on Usenet. Not my usual fare but I’m skimming through it slowly. Very revealing.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Brian Jordan: I didn’t realize that it was a subscription only site, as I seemed to have no trouble reading articles there previously!

  14. Brian Jordan says:

    @barriejohn
    On reflection, nor did I.
    More and more places are doing somethings similar and many are getting awkward about ad blockers too.

  15. Gui says:

    “Christians should not be surprised to see people groups all over the world with their own accounts of the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, men of great ages, and even the Tower of Babel. The accounts can tell us people once had the same record or eyewitness of a common event handed down from a generation that was once congregated in the same place at the same time.”

    Do they ever thought about the complications involved in a scenario like that? After the so called Flood, there would be only eight people from the same family. Even considerating that each couple took separate ways, incest would be unevitable and this wouldn’t sustain for too long in order to perpetuate the population.

    But admitting as true the hipothesys that the human DNA weren’t so degraded to the point that incestuous relationships weren’t harmful. Would be necessary that the eight people remaining multiply, then spread and populate other areas, with the Middle East being the first area to develop settlements, Americas and Oceania being the last ones to be populated. Ah, and with all the archeologicals finds pointing to that.

    Or we have the much simplier explanation: that were common that peoples all around the word begun their development inhabitting the shores of great rivers or lakes and, in some early moment of it story, faced a more catastrophical flood of these water’s bodies. Sums to it the fact that peoples in that times were much more isolated than today and you have the story of a global flood.

  16. barriejohn says:

    Gui: You’ve made a very good point there. His “logical” explanation for the existence of these folk legends ignores his stated belief that all accounts of events prior to the Flood must have been passed on by the three sons of Noah and no one else. An own goal, I believe, as both scenarios cannot be true!