By April Bayer
Speaker Tim Goeglein came to Concordia on Monday night to deliver a presentation titled “Faith in the Halls of Power,” where he reflected on how his time as a press secretary and member of the Bush administration in Washington D.C. influenced his faith.
Goeglein is originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and attended Indiana University Bloomington. After graduating, he interned as a press representative for Indiana Senator Dan Quayle, who later became Vice President. He then went on to work as a press secretary for another Indiana senator, Republican Dan Coats, who is currently the nation’s Director of National Intelligence.
After working as a part of the 2000 George W. Bush presidential campaign, Goeglein was appointed Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, a position he held until 2008. Goeglein currently serves as the Vice President of External and Government Relations for Focus on the Family, a Christian organization known for its pro-life activism, family ministry and radio programs.
Goeglein spent his day at Concordia touring the facilities and talking with students and faculty about their opinions on various issues in America.
“I think it’s very important that we are graceful, and civil, and magnanimous as followers of Jesus Christ, (and) that we actively and proactively engage people who agree with us and people who don’t agree with us, and that we do a good job listening to them,” Goeglein said.
Goeglein said that he enjoys visiting college campuses because it gives him an opportunity to learn from young people, and he hopes that others can learn from his experiences.
“I think that in the era that we’re in, this combination of a person’s Christianity and service in public policy is timely and of interest,” Goeglein said.
Students, faculty and Seward community members gathered in THOM Auditorium at 7 p.m. to listen to Goeglein’s presentation. He began by explaining his journey to becoming a press secretary in Washington D.C., and then serving President Bush in the White House.
One story Goeglein told was about going to buy a suit at J. C. Penney before his internship with Quayle.
“This salesman said to me, and I quote, ‘You are gonna be a big shot,’ and I’m very sorry to confess to you all that I believed him,” Goeglein said. “You know, the seedlings of pride are planted very early.”
Goeglein then went on to explain that, as his power and influence in the Bush administration grew, so did his pride. Eventually, in 2008, it was discovered that he had plagiarized several of his early columns in a Fort Wayne newspaper. This resulted in his resignation, feelings of guilt, and an unexpected meeting with President Bush in the Oval Office.
“I walked over to the middle of the office, and I looked the President directly in the eyes,” Goeglein said. “He was staring at me, and I said, ‘Sir, I owe you,’ and he said, ‘You’re forgiven.’”
Goeglein then went on to share the message of “grace and mercy” that President Bush shared with him and how confronting his mistakes and moving forward with the help of his pastor, family and friends helped him grow in his faith and accept forgiveness.
“Pride is a hallmark of cowardice and a lack of what I think of as ballast, but there is remarkable power in humility,” Goeglein said. “Choosing to be the last, purposely making decisions that are better for other people, purposely helping the other person when it least benefits you. And of course, the ultimate model in the history of humanity is the model of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.”
The presentation concluded with a question and answer session where audience members questioned Goeglein about his influences, his faith and his political views.
Senior Nichol Johnson expressed her admiration of Goeglein’s honesty.
“I just really appreciated how honest he was with all of us because you don’t really see people with his experiences, people in the political world, giving us honesty anymore,” Johnson said. “It was nice to see the truth come to (his) speech and explain to us what happened (with his career) and why it happened.”