The continuing saga of Bush's faith-based initiative took a new turn this week: the White House announced regulatory changes that will make it easier for religious organizations to compete for federal funds.

According to Christianity Today'sweblog, "Faith-based organizations working to combat drug abuse, mental illness, and poverty can now apply for several grants from the Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, about $20 billion in these grants was off-limits to religious organizations." Ditto the $8 billion coffers of the Department of Housing and Urban Development—now open to Christian social organizations.

Yes, it's only a step. But it's a significant one, in a godly direction.

And it reminds me of a story I'd like to share with you. Well, six stories:

In issue 53: William Wilberforce: The Century of Reform, Christian History peered into the slums, hospitals, classrooms, prisons, factories, and houses of parliament of parliament of Victorian England. What we found in each of these six places was inspiring: Christians whose "faith-based" compassion for the poor and downtrodden of their nation motivated them to work for change.

What we did not find is equally telling: the devastating split between "evangelicalism" and "the social gospel" that later marred America's Christian witness.

Each of the reformers in these Victorian stories had asked themselves the same question:

Or as Charles M. Sheldon put more bluntly it in his beloved late-Victorian novel: "What would Jesus do?"

The answers of these Victorian Christians spurred them to pioneer some of the most remarkable social reforms of the modern era.

Whatever your views or faith background, I encourage you to click on the links above (in the paragraph beginning "In ...

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