Sen. Mark Pryor’s campaign Wednesday called on U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton to apologize for comments he made to a Northwest Arkansas television station Tuesday questioning the senator’s Christianity.
Cotton, a Republican from Dardanelle, is challenging Pryor in November for his Senate seat.
In an interview with NBC affiliate KNWA in Fayetteville, Cotton praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s Monday decision in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case, in which the justices ruled 5-4 that family-run businesses, including the craft store chain Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., can claim a religious exemption from the requirement that they include contraceptives in their health care plans. The decision was seen as a blow to the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s health care law known colloquially as Obamacare.
"Just another example of how Obamacare infringes on the liberties of all Arkansans,” Cotton said of the law’s mandate of employer health insurance. "Barack Obama and Mark Pryor think that faith is something that only happens at 11 o’clock on Sunday mornings. That’s when we worship, but faith is what we live every single day, and the government shouldn’t infringe on the rights of religious liberty. So, I’m pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling. It’s just another example of why Obamacare is bad for Arkansas."
On Wednesday, Pryor’s campaign called for Cotton to personally apologize, saying the senator was disappointed in Cotton’s “deeply personal attack.”
“He and I may disagree on issues, but for him to question my faith is out of bounds,” Pryor said in a statement.
In response, Cotton said through spokesman David Ray that the representative respects his opponent’s faith, “but I wish he would respect Arkansans' right to practice our faith. Instead, Sen. Pryor and President Obama still defend Obamacare even after the Supreme Court said it violated freedom of religion.”
In December, Cotton’s campaign defended Pryor after the National Republican Senatorial Committee attacked the senator after he released an ad in which he referred to the Bible as his “north star.” A committee spokesman questioned whether the ad was in conflict with comments he had previously made to the Democrat-Gazette, in which he said his faith guides his political views, but warned that the Bible could be interpreted differently by different people. Ray later condemned the national Republican group’s email as “incredibly bizarre and offensive.”