When God spoke to Abraham, it was to instruct him to sacrifice his own child. When God spoke to Moses, it was to instruct him to set his people free. When God spoke to Julianna Battenfield, it was to make sure she didn’t incur too much student loan debt while attending law school.
While many of us know the gnashing of teeth that comes from taking out tens of thousands of dollars to pay for college, Battenfield viewed it as a challenge. Rather than deal with decades of loan repayments, why not set up a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding campaign to simply have other people pay for her to go to school? It worked for the potato salad guy.
Conveniently, she claims God told her verbally that she was to do this and also added that she must not take out any private loans. It wasn’t just a nice way to finance her education without having to pay a dime, it was a divine commandment.
Battenfield didn’t always want to be a lawyer, but she said God told her she must become one so that she can help people. After much self-reflection, she decided to trust in what her faith was telling her and enrolled in (should have seen this coming) televangelist Pat Robertson’s Regents University School of Law.
She explains on her website titled “Operation Law School” the motivations for going and why she needs our help to do it:
[A]fter much prayer and wise counsel, I have decided to let you in on this part of my life so that you will know what God is doing in and through me.
I do not believe in taking out student loans because the Word of God says not to, and He asked me specifically not to, so I have permanently declined my loans in faith, trusting that He will provide the full amount.
She then goes on to assuage our natural fears that she is just another 20-something going to law school for law school’s sake.
“I am not just another 20-something going to law school for law school’s sake. I’m doing it because the Father asked me to go for a very specific, strategic reason.”
She also adds that it will be really great because with all this money she hopes we give her – which she calls “going on His dime” – she will end college 100% debt-free. In this day and age, with college tuition skyrocketing each year, that does constitute a minor miracle.
It’s hard to say if Battenfield’s gambit is uniquely genius or insanely foolish. People have, of course, been using religion to get things they want for millenia, so she isn’t exactly breaking new ground. However, her particular stab at it is fraught with the risk of failure at every turn. Her plea strikes a strange balance. On the one hand, she clearly needs the help of us mere mortals and our secular dollars. On the other, she insists any money she gets is directly from God – that’s the whole point. Unfortunately, giving all glory to God takes the wind out of the sails of anyone interested in donating. Nobody wants to donate their hard-earned money and feel unappreciated.
To motivate the hesitant, Battenfield created a bonafide movie trailer to promote her fundraising. Be warned, it will seem like a joke, but it’s meant to be serious.
It’s not clear what Battenfield hopes to do with her law degree. When she talks about her future at all, she usually simply alludes to “helping” people. If it’s as simple as that, there are probably cheaper ways to do it. Tuition at Regent costs around $55,000 a year and Battenfield says she is hoping to raise enough money so that she doesn’t have to get a part time job during her school year – that ends up being a lot of money for a law degree that she isn’t even sure she wants to use. Regent is also one of the lowest ranked law schools in the country (Tier 4 out of 4), and has been beset by scandals and poor test scores. If you’re going to go to law school on “His dime” there are better places to go than Regent.
In any case, Battenfield insists she is going to law school, so confident is she that God (and anonymous funders) will provide. She has already enrolled and already declined any and all potential loans. It leaves her needing about $25,000 by January 2015.
Where is $25,000 going to come from? I have absolutely no idea. But we walk by faith and most definitely not by sight, and gosh darnit but I am stinking bound and determined to be a woman that walks on the water and dives off cliffs of faith in my lifetime because life is absolutely boring when I am not 1100% wholly dependent and I-am-desperate-because-there-is-seriously-no-way-I-can-make-this-happen-myself-so-He-HAS-to-come-through-for-me-or-I-will-go-to-debtor’s-prison on Him. He is the Almighty God! The Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, The Mightiest Ruler Ever to Live, and MOST OF ALL, my best friend. My point is, He is ABLE to do this, and thankfully I have no plan B.
She probably won’t wind up in “debtor’s prison,” but Pat Robertson will certainly kick her out of his law school. Battenfield hasn’t said how close she is to meeting her goals (she needs over $12,000 by August for her first semester bill), but she did announce on her blog that she had found a place to live near campus for free.
She took that as a good omen.
“Y’all. He speaks.”
But will he give?