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CLARIFIES THAT REV. PRESCOTT WAS HOLDING A VIGIL IN OPPOSITION TO THE SUPREME COURT RULING - Rev. Bruce Prescott, left, leads a vigil outside a Hobby Lobby store in Edmond, Okla., Monday, June 30, 2014, in opposition to the Supreme Court's decision that some companies like the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby chain of arts-and-craft stores can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, if they have religious objections. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Hobby Lobby has been fined $3 million for artifacts smuggled from Iraq



Federal prosecutors say Hobby Lobby Stores has agreed to pay a $3 million fine over thousands of Iraqi artifacts smuggled out of the Middle East, according to The Associated Press.

Hobby Lobby has also reportedly vowed to forfeit thousands of tablets, bricks written in one of the earliest systems of writing and other artifacts under scrutiny.

AP reported Wednesday that Hobby Lobby implemented a deal to buy over 5,500 artifacts in December 2010 for $1.6 million.

Prosecutors said the acquisition was “fraught with red flags” and that packages bore the shipping labels that inaccurately described their contents as “ceramic tiles.”

Some Twitter users on Wednesday mocked Hobby Lobby for the reported fine and forfeiture it had agreed to.

Hobby Lobby President Steve Green on Wednesday said in a statement the Oklahoma City-based company had begun acquiring historical Bibles and other artifacts in 2009.

“[Hobby Lobby] should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled,” he said.

“Our passion for the Bible continues, and we will do all that we can to support the efforts to conserve items that will help illuminate and enhance our understanding of this Great Book.”

AP reported that a dealer based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) shipped packages containing the items to three different corporate addresses in Oklahoma City.

Five shipments reportedly intercepted by federal customs officials had shipping labels falsely stating the artifacts came from Turkey.

Hobby Lobby famously challenged former President Barack Obama’s administration in a 2014 Supreme Court case.

The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that June stated that companies cannot be ordered to give their employees birth control if they reject the provisions on the basis of religion.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that companies offer contraceptive services to workers as part of their insurance coverage.

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