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A Hobby Lobby location in Stow, Ohio
|Founded||August 3, 1972 (as Hobby Lobby Creative Centers)|
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma,
Number of locations
|822 stores (2018)|
|Products||Arts and crafts supplies|
|Revenue||US$ 5 billion (2018)|
Number of employees
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., formerly called Hobby Lobby Creative Centers, is a private for-profit corporation which owns a chain of American arts and crafts stores. It has been involved in a number of controversies including its participation in smuggling artifacts.
In 1972, David Green opened the first Hobby Lobby store in northwest Oklahoma City. Green left his supervisor position with variety store TG&Y, to open a second Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma City in 1975. He opened an additional store in Tulsa, Oklahoma the next year. Hobby Lobby grew to seven stores by mid 1982, and the first store outside Oklahoma opened in 1984.
Opposition to Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
In September 2012, Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit against the United States over new regulations requiring health insurance provided by employers to cover emergency contraceptives. The company released the following statement: "[T]he Green family's religious beliefs forbid them from participating in, providing access to, paying for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting abortion-causing drugs and devices". Hobby Lobby argued that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act serve to protect their religious beliefs, and accordingly bars the application of the contraceptive mandate to them. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the company's application for an injunction, prompting the firm to sue the federal government. On July 19, 2013, US District Judge Joe Heaton granted the company a temporary exemption from the contraceptive-providing mandate.
On January 28, 2014, the Center for Inquiry filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court. They argued that were the court to grant Hobby Lobby an exclusion, and the firm would violate the Establishment Clause, along with part of the First Amendment.
U.S. Supreme Court decision
On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled 5–4, that Hobby Lobby and other "closely held" stock corporations can choose to be exempt from the law based on religious preferences, based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act but not on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Hobby Lobby stores and facilities are open for business every day with the exception of Sunday. According to CEO David Green, this is to allow employees to have more time to spend for worship, rest, and family.
Non-stocking of items relating to Jewish holidays
In September 2013, a shopper reported being told by a store employee, in Marlboro, New Jersey, Hobby Lobby did not carry merchandise celebrating Jewish holidays. While the store carried Christmas items, they did not carry items related to bar mitzvah, Hanukkah, or Passover. The store employee told the shopper these items were not sold due to the owner's Christian values. In response, Hobby Lobby apologized for the employee's comments, stating that it has carried Jewish holiday items in the past and would do so in test areas beginning in November 2013.
Starting in 2009 representatives of Hobby Lobby organized archaeological looting in Iraq and Caesarea to present smuggled artifacts to the Museum of the Bible. In 2017 the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York directed Hobby Lobby to return the artifacts and pay a fine of US$3,000,000. Many of the artifacts collected by the Green family, the evangelical owners of the craft-supply chain Hobby Lobby, lacked any supporting evidence of their history or ownership. Thus raising the possibility that the artifacts were possibly looted or sold on the black market. Hobby Lobby returned over 5500 items in May 2018.
In October 2018, the museum revealed that five of its 16 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments are counterfeit. Kipp Davis of Trinity Western University, who examined the fragments for authenticity, confirmed "the high probability that at least seven fragments in the museum's Dead Sea Scrolls collection were forgeries, but conclusions on the status of the remaining fragments are still forthcoming."
In October 2019, officials from the Egypt Exploration Society, a nonprofit that manages the Papyri Project, alleged that a University of Oxford academic Dirk Obbink, engaged in the theft and sale of "at least 11 ancient Bible fragments to the Green family, the Hobby Lobby owners who operate a Bible museum and charitable organization in Washington." The Museum of the Bible said it will return the fragment to the Egypt Exploration Society and Oxford University. The museum also replaced the display of a miniature bible that a NASA astronaut purportedly carried to the moon after its authenticity was questioned.
A new book which describes over one thousand cuneiform tablets, possibly stolen from Irisagrig, a 4,000-year-old lost city in Iraq, has been published. The tablets, purchased by Hobby Lobby, were studied over a four year period while in the company's Oklahoma storerooms. "The new find shows that the company Hobby Lobby—whose co-owner, Steve Green, helped found the Museum of the Bible in November 2017 in Washington, D.C.—had far more cuneiform tablets obtained (possibly illegally) from this city, and other sites in Iraq, than previously believed." As many as 1,400 artifacts to be returned to Iraq appear to be missing from the Hobby Lobby collection.
In March of 2020 independent researchers hired by the Museum of the Bible revealed that all 16 fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the museums possession are fakes. Colette Loll who led the team of art fraud investigators determined the fakes were made from ancient leather, used modern inks and were created to resemble the ancient texts. "The museum is also reevaluating the provenance of all the material in its collection, and it is prepared to return any stolen artifacts to their rightful owners."
In late March of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused global business closings and U.S. citizens were increasingly being told to self quarantine, Hobby Lobby announced its stores would remain open, in defiance of lawfully executed stay at home or shelter in place orders issued by city, county, or state governments. Founder David Green, in a letter to employees, said his decision "was informed by a message from God bestowed upon his wife Barbara Green." Photos of signs at various Hobby Lobby stores have claimed Hobby Lobby is an essential business for its materials for making personal protective equipment, as well as homeschooling supplies. However, retailers specializing in the sale of craft supplies are not considered to be essential businesses per guidelines issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
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