A Christian men’s magazine publisher challenged readers to donate $1 million to Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, doubling the former Arkansas governor’s political campaign war chest.

New Man magazine makes the case for Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, in a July/August cover story touting him as “one of our own.”

The story warns Christian men to not be misled by candidates portrayed as “frontrunners” in the media, who “often have more style than substance and better marketability than morality.”

“This image-making affects even Christian voters,” the article says. “Rather than supporting someone who represents our core values, we compromise, opting for a candidate simply because we are told that he or she can win.”

“Let’s stop this trend,” the magazine implores. “As Christian men we have a duty to help shape the future of our country.”

Birthed in the Christian men’s movement, New Man was for its first three years the official magazine for Promise Keepers. In the past, editor and publisher Stephen Strang explained in an editorial, it has focused on helping men be better husbands and followers of Christ, while steering away from broader issues of culture.

“Other than a cover story once on ‘The Faith of George W. Bush,’ we have rarely delved into politics–until now,” Strang wrote.

“That’s because the war on terror and the cultural battle we face are placing us in one of the most precarious times in our nation’s history,” he explained. “A great deal is at stake over who wins the presidency in 2008. There are those running for president who do not share our values and, if elected, will contribute to the continual moral downward spiral.”

Huckabee said Monday on NBC’s “Today” program he is not discouraged by his low ranking in the polls 18 months before the presidential election. “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said.

But Huckabee has lamented that the perception a candidate can or cannot be elected hinges so much on fundraising.

“Pure and simple, it’s money,” Huckabee said in a Pew Forum roundtable with journalists in June. “Money right now is driving it. The sad thing is money is driving the media’s perception of it–and I’m in a room full of media people, so forgive me for sounding a bit blunt here. Every time–when even the fair-and-balanced Fox News network talks about the 2008 election and they only list three names when the others of us are out there busting our backsides every day to be one of those guys, it perpetuates the idea that there’s only three choices. Now, that’s not my position, and it’s not the position of Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter or any of the others who are running for president. But we don’t get to control that perception. And it’s very frustrating to us that if it’s a matter of who has enough either rich friends or the capacity to transfer some money from their federal accounts and get a jump start on the money-raising process, they become the inevitable and de facto front-runners.”

Strang, a Pentecostal Christian whose publishing stable includes Charisma and a Web site he says links to 13,000 pages, reminded New Man readers his magazines have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past, like for victims of Hurricane Katrina and tens of thousands donated to the family of a man without insurance who died of a heart attack while attending a Promise Keepers rally in Washington in 1997.

“Now let’s raise money for Huckabee,” Strang challenged. “The maximum you can give is $2,300 per person or $4,600 for a couple. My wife and I have given that already, because we want to support a man who believes as we do on important moral issues. I don’t want anyone who doesn’t share my values to get the nomination by default, just because he or she can raise money.”

Strang said if 1,000 men who read New Man gave $1,000 each, that would be $1 million, double the amount Huckabee had raised at the time the editorial was written. “One thousand men is less than 1 percent of the readers of this magazine,” Strang reasoned. “One thousand dollars is less than a quarter of what you can give (along with your wife.) Of course any amount is helpful. And just by contributing, you are making a statement of where your values are.”

The cover story makes its case for Huckabee on four points–communication skills, appeal to voters, social issues and Christian commitment.

“Huckabee is the finest communicator in the race from either party,” the article says. “Much has been written about his gifts in this area. As an orator, he is persuasive, articulate and Reagan-like.”

“Huckabee is not only the best social conservative in the primary, but he has the best chance of beating the Democrats in the general,” the article continues. “Giuliani and McCain would be very strong general election candidates but lack the principled commitment to our core values.”

The article says Huckabee “has a strong commitment to Christians’ core social issues.” He led the “covenant marriage” movement in Arkansas and worked to restrict abortions.

“As governor, Huckabee’s chief domestic policy advisor was Chris Pyle, a strong conservative Christian,” the magazine says. “Many of his other appointments were likewise solid. He appointed the first home school mother ever to the state school board.

“The same goes for his history of appointing conservative judges during his decade-long service as governor. His political appointments speak volumes about his commitment to Christian principles.”

The magazine christens Huckabee “the most committed Christian in the race.”

“He was a Southern Baptist minister and has formal theological training,” it says. “In Huckabee we have an unprecedented opportunity to have an advocate for our cause and our values in the White House.

“He has strong moral character and integrity. He has no skeletons in the closet or baggage in the back room. He has always been married to one woman, and his three children were educated in public schools.

“When it comes to faith, he is truly one of our own.”

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

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