The past is the common property of human kind. But those who think their values are a little more equal than ours, and that religious liberty belongs solely to them, apparently think the past is something they ought to be able to keep on their own mantle above the fireplace rather than in a museum.
Or, if they’re rich like the Greens, the owners of Hobby Lobby, in their own personal Bible museum, to be precise:
It turns out that the Green family – the owners of Hobby Lobby – have been under investigation for the past four years for illicitly importing Iraq’s cultural heritage. In other words, stealing artifacts like a modern-day Indiana Jones.
The Daily Beast is reporting that the Greens got busted importing several hundred small cuneiform tablets in 2011, tablets purchased in Iraq and thousands of years old – and “described on their FedEx shipping label as samples of ‘hand-crafted clay tiles'” – destined for the Hobby Lobby corporation compound:
These tablets, like the other 40,000 or so ancient artifacts owned by the Green family, were destined for the Museum of the Bible, the giant new museum funded by the Greens, slated to open in Washington, D.C., in 2017. Both the seizure of the cuneiform tablets and the subsequent federal investigation were confirmed to us by Cary Summers, the president of the Museum of the Bible.
Founder and CEO David Green wrote a book called “More Than a Hobby.” Indeed, it is cultural theft.
Well, nothing says Religious Right like a museum filled with stolen property dedicated to a book – the Bible – which says “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15). You remember when the Greens fought for the right to deny women birth control even though the Bible does not prohibit birth control. There are a lot of things the Bible does prohibit but only a few made it into the top ten, and stealing is one of them.
The Hobby Lobby decision, as The Daily Beast puts it, turned the Greens from “evangelical players to bona fide Christian celebrities” overnight. Now these celebrities are pretending the seized tablets are just “being held up” in customs through some paperwork error or other. You know, because as the Egyptian monk Shenoute said in the fifth century, “There is no crime for those who have Christ.”
Hobby Lobby can pretend it’s all good, but The Daily Beast says their own investigations “suggests that there is more at stake here than merely a logistical oversight.”
If they can burn down the center of learning in the ancient world, the Great Library of Alexandria, and tear the greatest woman scholar of antiquity, Hypatia, to shreds, and burn what was left as a witch for daring to engage in science, then surely devout religious conservatives can steal a few artifacts with impunity!
The worm has turned:
The Green family, who successfully forced the federal government to legally recognize their personal moral standards, now find themselves on the other side of the docket, under suspicion of having attempted to contravene U.S. laws.
Now look: the Greens are worth $4.5 billion so it’s not like even being found guilty is going to hurt them a lot. A fine will not put a dent into a fortune like that. They’ll never admit they did wrong. The Daily Beast shows they’ve already covered themselves with a slimy plausible deniability:
Steve Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby, admitted that among his family’s extensive collection they might have some illegally-acquired antiquities, though he denied having ever knowingly done anything wrong. “Is it possible that we have some illicit [artifacts]? That’s possible,” he told us for a story slated to appear in a forthcoming issue of The Atlantic.
Moral relativism is the glue that holds the Religious Right together. It’s okay to condemn things the Bible doesn’t put in its Top 10 list of “no-no’s” – the Ten Commandments – but it’s okay to do the things the Bible does say are bad enough to be in the Top 10.
So let’s be clear. These people, the Greens:
Assuming the federal investigation finds them guilty, think they get to determine what’s moral and what isn’t, and who those requirements apply to: Meaning women can’t have something the Bible doesn’t say they can’t have, but the Greens can have something the Bible says they can’t have. You see how that works?
So yes, we’re back to this again:
And that, in a nutshell, is what the Religious Right is fighting for, not Religious Freedom, but the freedom to say they can do whatever they want to do and that nobody else (the rest of us) can do anything they say we can’t do. Because of their religious beliefs.
Ain’t America great?
It would be wrong, says the Supreme Court, to deny the Green’s their “deeply-held Christian beliefs,” but what happens when those beliefs are wrong, or not deeply held enough to apply themselves, but only to others?
h/t The Daily Beast
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.