New House Art Contest Controversy Swirls

Finalist’s painting depicts Statue of Liberty as a Muslim woman

Members of the group We The People Rising posted a video of their meeting with Rep. Lou Correa’s staff asking that a controversial painting in the annual House student art competition be removed from his district office. (We the People Rising via YouTube)

A new congressional art competition controversy is swirling around California Rep. Lou Correa after his office selected a painting of the Statue of Liberty depicted as a Muslim woman.

We the People Rising, a group that advocates stricter enforcement of immigration, is arguing that the picture hanging in Correa’s district office in Santa Ana as a finalist for the annual competition is a violation of separation of church and state, the Orange County Register reported.

“He shouldn’t have anything religious in his office, said Mike McGetrick, an activist with the group. “I would like to see our Congress people be right-down-the-line patriotic.”

The group has posted videos on YouTube of members confronting Correa and his staff over the painting and asking for its removal. It said it is planning a Sept. 11 protest of the painting at Correa’s office.

Former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin stirred the pot early Monday by tweeting a post on the Young Conservatives website criticizing the painting to her 1½ million Twitter followers.

Correa said he asked for advice from the Office of Legislative Counsel and that there is no legal issue.

“You take it in the context of a lady, probably a Muslim American — with all that’s going on, she’s a proud American,” Correa told the Register from Jerusalem.

The new debate comes after a painting selected by Rep. William Lacy Clay for the congressional art competition last year depicted police officers as pigs. The painting was removed from a display of contest winners in the Cannon tunnel by Republican members of Congress.

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