Big fine. Bad publicity. That pretty much describes Hobby Lobby's week.
"I'm sure the media just salivate over stories like this," complained a Facebook user who commented on a link posted by a friend of mine.
Maybe so. But in this case, can anyone really deny that this is news? The basics from the Wall Street Journal:
In 2010, the president of Hobby Lobby spent $1.6 million on thousands of ancient artifacts that he hoped would help build a collection of antiquities related to the Bible.
There was one problem: The items appeared to have been stolen from Iraq, federal authorities alleged, then smuggled into the U.S. from the United Arab Emirates and Israel, bearing labels identifying them as “ceramic tiles” and “Tiles (Sample).”
The Oklahoma City-based arts-and-crafts retailer settled the claims with the government on Wednesday, according to a civil complaint and settlement filed by the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office. Hobby Lobby will surrender the artifacts, pay a $3 million fine and adopt new procedures for buying cultural property.
In a statement posted on its website, the privately held company said its lack of familiarity with the “complexities of the acquisitions process” led to some “regrettable mistakes,” including relying on dealers and shippers who, “in hindsight, did not understand the correct way to document and ship these items.”
The aim of the company, which is owned by an evangelical Christian family, was to develop “a collection of historically and religiously important books and artifacts about the Bible,” to preserve and share with the public, the statement said.
Overall, the WSJ story was pretty tame compared to some other major news organizations' reports.
Religion News Service (a national wire service for which I occasionally freelance) quoted experts who said Hobby Lobby "must have known it was illegally importing artifacts":