- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2017

U.S. Rep. Lou Correa is defending a student painting hanging in his office that depicts the Statue of Liberty wearing a hijab, despite allegations that it violates the separation of church and state.

The painting, which was a fourth-place finalist in the annual student Congressional Art Competition, currently hangs in Mr. Correa’s Santa Ana, California, office. A Claremont-based activist group called We the People Rising recently spoke with the Democrat’s staff, calling the painting’s presence in a congressman’s office “reprehensible” and “more than a little bit insulting,” according to a YouTube video of the meeting posted by the activist group.

In a July letter to Mr. Correa, We the People Rising member Mike McGetrick wrote that attributing a specific religion to the Statue of Liberty is “inaccurate, unprofessional and offensive” and has no place in a government official’s office.

Mr. Correa said the backlash prompted him to contact the House Office of General Counsel, which told him there was no legal issue with the painting staying put, the Orange County Register reported.

On Tuesday, Mr. Correa announced on Facebook that the painting will remain.

“The Statue of Liberty stands for inclusion, acceptance, and freedom,” the congressman wrote. “The young woman who painted this is trying very hard to show people that she is an American. If I took down her painting, I’d be telling the world her experiences don’t matter and she did something wrong. This is her country too, and she earned that spot on my wall.”

We the People Rising is now reportedly planning a Sept. 11 protest at Mr. Correa’s district office.

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