Hobby Lobby, Museum of the Bible, and illegal antiquities from Iraq
Hobby Lobby is a national chain of stores dedicated to arts and crafts supplies. David Green opened the first store in 1972 in Oklahoma and eventually expanded the chain nationwide; by 2015, Hobby Lobby had more than 600 stores across the United States. Hobby Lobby remains a closely-held private for-profit corporation headed by the Green family, devout Christians who profess to incorporate their religious beliefs into their corporate policies. Hobby Lobby entered the national conversation about health care policy in 2012 when the company filed a lawsuit challenging the federal requirement to include contraception in health insurance policies offered by companies to their employees. The lawsuit was resolved in the company’s favor in a controversial decision by the US Supreme Court which held, in effect, that private closely-held corporations like Hobby Lobby had the same religious freedom protections guaranteed to US citizens by the Constitution.
In 2012, the Museum of the Bible was incorporated as a non-profit organization, with David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, as the Chair of the Board of Trustees and with the Green family the primary funders of the organization. The Green family also has donated thousands of artifacts to the museum’s collections, which also contains acquisitions from other sources and will include temporary loans from partner institutions in the US and abroad. The museum is under construction (see photo) in Washington DC and is scheduled to open in Fall 2017.
Although Hobby Lobby, a private for-profit corporation, and the Museum of the Bible, a private non-profit organization, are separate entities, they are inextricably linked by the involvement of the Green family. This relationship became particularly problematic with the recent announcement by the US Department of Justice of a $3 million settlement and the return of 5,500 illegally-acquired artifacts from Iraq, objects acquired by Hobby Lobby.
For more information—
By Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bayley
The Washington Post
July 6, 2017
By Candida Moss and Joel Baden
The New York Times
July 6, 2017
Press Release: US Department of Justice
July 5, 2017