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Did Hobby Lobby Fund ISIS?

by Korey Lane

It's not really a secret that the arts and craft retailer Hobby Lobby is big on religion. Its infamous 2014 Supreme Court case proved that, while also justifying its refusal to pay for its employee's contraception coverage. Claiming religious freedom and firmly-held beliefs, Hobby Lobby has never been one to stray away from scandal involving Hobby Lobby President Steve Green's Christianity and all that it entails. But now, Green is in trouble again for his religious dealings, this time, though, taking things international. So, here's everything you need to know about Hobby Lobby allegedly "funding" ISIS, because things just got real. Romper has reached out to Hobby Lobby for a comment on these claims, and is awaiting a response.

Hobby Lobby had allegedly bought "more than 5,500 artifacts for $1.6 million in December 2010 from an unidentified dealer in an that acquisition prosecutors said was “fraught with red flags,"" according to The Washington Post. Hobby Lobby has now been fined $3 million for its alleged illegal doings, but that's not the only crazy aspect of this story. As many apt internet users have pointed out: ISIS, and other terror groups in the Middle East, have a contemptible reputation for selling artifacts overseas, especially to American buyers.

So, did Hobby Lobby fund ISIS, even if accidentally? So far, there's not really a whole lot of evidence. Per The Atlantic,

ISIS has made some untold millions—or billions—by selling ancient goods. While nothing in the case indicates that these objects were associated with any terrorist group, the very nature of smuggled goods means their provenance is muddy.

For its part, Hobby Lobby hasn't mentioned any funding of terror groups, neither confirming nor denying reports. In a press release, the company explained what it intended to use the artifacts for:

Developing a collection of historically and religiously important books and artifacts about the Bible is consistent with the Company’s mission and passion for the Bible. The goals were to preserve these items for future generations, to provide broad access to scholars and students alike to study them, and to share the collection with the world in public institutions and museums.

However, prosecutors argued that Hobby Lobby did not follow all the rules required to purchase such antiquities. Bridget M. Rohde, the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, told NPR:

... an expert on cultural property law retained by Hobby Lobby warned the company that the acquisition of cultural property likely from Iraq, including cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, carries a risk that such objects may have been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq.

And really, whether Hobby Lobby actually funded a terror group in the process, the fact remains that the company is just another example of American ethnocentricism, and that's not OK. Believing that one culture is superior to another culture is dangerous and is the kind of thinking that leads to arguments from religious freedom as well as atrocities like ethnic cleansing and genocide. Allegedly smuggling ancient artifacts is a serious issue, which the company "did not fully appreciate," per its statement.