The Green family made headlines in 2014 when it won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case to deny employees contraception coverage. Now, the Hobby Lobby owners are back in the spotlight for allegedly importing stolen Biblical artifacts from Iraq for a proposed Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. (video below).
A shipment of 200 to 300 small clay tablets headed for the Hobby Lobby headquarters in Oklahoma City were intercepted by U.S. Customs agents in Memphis in 2011, notes The Daily Beast.
An anonymous senior law enforcement source told the news site the artifacts, which are thousands of years old, had been purchased by the Green family, which has been under a federal investigation for illegal importation for years.
Cary Summers, the president of the Museum of the Bible, said, “There was a shipment and it had improper paperwork — incomplete paperwork that was attached to it.”
Summers also implied the tablets were “held up in customs,” saying, “Sometimes this stuff just sits, and nobody does anything with it."
The federal government has conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with people about the shipment that was labeled “hand-crafted clay tiles” and reportedly declared to be worth about $300, even though the actual value is much higher.
“Is it possible that we have some illicit [artifacts]?" Steve Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby, told The Daily Beast. "That’s possible.”
But the Green family, which is reportedly worth $4.5 billion, has denied any wrongdoing.
According to The Washington Post in 2014, Green has about 44,000 Biblical relics and manuscripts, giving him one of world’s largest collections.
His collection includes fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is the oldest copy of the Bible, and the Codex Climaci Rescriptus manuscripts, which date back to the fifth and ninth centuries, and the largest collection of Torah scrolls.