Justin Harris

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Justin Todd Harris

Arkansas State Representative
for District 87
In office
Preceded by Mark Martin
Succeeded by Jonathan Barnett

Arkansas State Representative
for District 81
In office
Preceded by Karen Hopper (transferred to District 100)
Succeeded by Bruce Coleman

Born August 25, 1975
Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Marsha Gail Frederick Harris (married 2000)
Children Ethan, Isaiah, and Caelan Harris
Residence Springdale, Arkansas
Alma mater Siloam Springs High School

University of Arkansas

Occupation Preschool owner and operator
Religion Southern Baptist

Justin Todd Harris (born August 25, 1975)[1] is the owner and operator of Growing Gods Kingdom, a preschool in West Fork in Washington County in northwestern Arkansas. He is also a Republican former state representative. Since 2013, he has represented District 81, which includes parts of Washington and Crawford counties. From 2011 to 2013, Harris represented District 87, a seat then switched to the since term-limited Republican Jonathan Barnett of Siloam {pronounced SIGH LUM) Springs in Benton County.[2]


A native of Muskogee in eastern Oklahoma, Harris was reared in Siloam Springs, where he graduated from Siloam Springs High School. He holds degrees in Human and Child Development and Human Environmental Science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He is a member of the Arkansas and the Southern Early Childhood Education associations. Prior to the establishment of Growing Gods Kingdom in 2003, Harris was for three years the director of the Living Faith Preschool. For some two years in the late 1990s, he was a merchandising assistant for J.C. Penney.[3]

Since 2009, Harris has been a member of both the Washington County Republican Party and the Tea Party movement. He considers Ronald W. Reagan his favorite U.S. President.[3]

Political career

In 2010, Harris ran in District 87 for the seat vacated by the term-limited Mark Martin, who was instead elected as the first Republican Secretary of State of Arkansas since Reconstruction. Harris defeated the Democrat Earl John Hunton (born 1966) of Prairie Grove in Washington County, 4,439 (56.8 percent) to 3,372 (43.2 percent).[4]

In 2012, Harris was switched to District 81 for his second legislative term because the incumbent Republican, Representative Karen Hopper, was moved to District 100. In the Republican primary, Harris defeated Lisa Marie France Norris (born 1980) of Alma in Crawford County, 1,578 votes (63.6 percent) to 904 (36.4 percent). In the general election, Harris prevailed over the Democrat Wolf Grulkey, also of Alma, a supporter of Governor Mike Beebe. The tabulation was 6,891 votes (67.3 percent) for Harris to 3,355 (32.7 percent) for Grulkey.[5]

Representative Harris served on these committees: (1) Legislative Joint Auditing, (2) Performance Review, and (3) Public Health, Welfare and Labor.[3] Harris is Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth, the committee which oversees the Department of Human Services. Through the Department of Human Services, Harris's pre-school, Growing God's Kingdom, has received more than $4.1 million in public funds since 2010. It was also this agency which Harris required to approve his controversial adoptions.[6]

In 2013, Representative Harris co-sponsored the amending of state income tax rates and supported the proposed spending cap on the state budget, but the latter measure failed by a two-vote margin in the House. He joined the majority to override the vetoes of Democratic Governor Mike Beebe to enact legislation to require photo identification for casting a ballot in Arkansas and to ban abortion after twenty weeks of gestation, despite Beebe's concerns that the bill was unconstitutional. He was a co-sponsor of both of those measures. Harris also supported related pro-life legislation to outlaw abortion whenever fetal heartbeat is detected, to forbid the inclusion of abortion in the state insurance exchange, and to make the death of an unborn child a felony in certain cases.[7] In January 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a lower court's decision to strike down a twenty-week abortion ban in Arizona, leaving the legality of the Arkansas law in doubt.[8]

On Second Amendment issues, Harris co-sponsored allowing officials of universities and religious institutions to engage in the concealed carry of firearms. He voted to reduce the application fee for obtaining a concealed carry permit, but the measure was defeated in the House. Harris co-sponsored the measure which prohibits the governor from regulating firearms during an emergency. He voted to prohibit the closing of schools based on a two-year pupil enrollment analysis. Harris voted against legislation to make the office of prosecuting attorney in Arkansas nonpartisan, which nevertheless passed sixty-three to twenty-four. He voted to establish a tiered system of lottery scholarships. Harris co-sponsored the bill, signed by Governor Beebe, to permit the sale of up to five hundred gallons per month of unpasteurized whole milk directly from the farm to consumers.[7]

In 2011, Harris voted to set state standards for biblical instruction in public schools but opposed the authorization of dress codes. He voted against the prohibition of cell phone usage in school zones. He voted to require that state driver's license tests be administered only in the English language. He voted for the Capital Gains Reduction Act and for the reduction of taxes on manufacturers' utilities. He voted against the congressional redistricting act.[7]

Harris endorsed Asa Hutchinson in the 2014 Republican gubernatorial primary against Curtis Coleman. Hutchinson, a former U.S. Representative for Arkansas' 3rd congressional district, was the party's 2006 standard-bearer against Mike Beebe. He rebounded to win the general election in 2014 against the Democrat Mike Ross. He was elected to a second term in 2018. Hutchinson's brother, Tim Hutchinson is a former U.S. Representative and one-term U.S. Senator.

Personal life

Harris and his wife, the former Marsha Gail Frederick (born 1976), have three sons,[9]Justin and Marsha Harris also adopted three daughters. The oldest one, Mary, was in their home just a few months; the other two lived with the Harrises for about a year before they were "rehomed" to another family, where one of the girls was raped. The Harrises believed that the children could communicate telepathically with "... other foster families, the girls' biological mother, a Department of Human Services employee and a former babysitter." According to The Arkansas Times, Harris and his wife believed that the middle child was possessed by a demon, and she was kept under lock and key.[10]

The Arkansas Times reported:

"Chelsey Goldsborough, who regularly babysat for the Harrises, said Mary was kept isolated from Annie and from the rest of the family. She was often confined for hours to her room, where she was monitored by a video camera. The reason: The Harrises believed the girls were possessed by demons and could communicate telepathically, Goldsborough said. Harris and his wife once hired specialists to perform an "exorcism" on the two sisters while she waited outside the house with the boys, she said."

They had an exorcism performed, but then sent the girls to live with Eric Francis, a former employee, while the Harris family continued to receive adoption subsidies. Francis raped one of the girls, and was sentenced to forty years in prison.[10] Harris has stated that during the adoption process his wife was dying of pancreatic cancer. [11] However, Mylife.com reports that Marsha Harris, five years later as of September 2000, is still living.[12]

Harris and his family attend and are members of Cross Church of Northwest Arkansas, also known as the Church at Pinnacle Hills, whose pastor is Ronnie Floyd, the 2014 president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Cross Church is a Southern Baptist "mega-church".[2][3]


  1. Justin Harris (Todd). Mylife.com. Retrieved on September 8, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Justin Harris, R-82. arkansashouse.org. Retrieved on January 6, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Justin Harris' Biography. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved on December 9, 2020.
  4. District 87. Ballotpedia.org. Retrieved on September 18, 2020.
  5. District 81. ballotpedia.org. Retrieved on January 6, 2014.
  6. Legislator Who Rehomed Children has Received $4M in Public Funds since 2010 (March 13, 2015). Retrieved on March 14, 2015.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Justin Harris' Voting Records. votesmart.org. Retrieved on September 18, 2020.
  8. U.S. Supreme Court refuses to allow Arizona's 20-week abortion ban, which Arkansas law parallels. Arkansas Times. Retrieved on March 11, 2015.
  9. A child left unprotected. The Arkansas Times (March 11, 2015).
  10. 10.0 10.1 Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt. The Arkansas Times. Retrieved on March 11, 2015.
  11. Lawmaker defends giving away adopted girls. USA Today. Retrieved on March 13, 2015.
  12. Marsha Harris. Mylife.com. Retrieved on September 19, 2020.