Hobby Lobby to pay $3 million fine, forfeit smuggled ancient artifacts

Hobby Lobby has been hit with a big fine from the federal government for illegal smuggling.

The arts and crafts chain agreed to settle civil action the Justice Department brought against the company.

The Justice Department accused Hobby Lobby of smuggling ancient cuneiform tablets and clay artifacts from modern day Iraq into the United States.

Cuneiform is an ancient system of writing on clay tablets that was used in Mesopotamia.

The Department of Justice said Hobby Lobby received "falsely labeled" artifacts from a United Arab Emirates-based supplier. The dealers reportedly falsely labeled the shipments as "ceramics" and "samples" and illegally shipped them to Hobby Lobby stores and two corporate offices.

In a statement, the conservative Christian company said it has been acquiring a variety of historical bibles and other artifacts since 2009.

The company said that is consistent with their mission and passion for the Bible.

Hobby Lobby's president admitted they should have been more careful about the acquisitions.

According to court documents, the retail chain agreed to pay a $3 million fine and to forfeit thousands of Iraqi artifacts.

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