If you're a Latter-day Saint I'm sure you've heard at least one such story before: person quits job and drains savings account because he has become sure that "The Millennium" and Jesus's return to earth are right around the corner, and that all things will be taken care of for him. Regardless of how many of such stories are true, these stories illustrate a potential shortsightedness of members of any religion that think that heaven is more important than earth.
Enlightenment thinkers, to include our own Founding Fathers, frowned on such exaggerated netherworld thinking. Instead, they realized that ensuring that everyone has sufficient for their earthly needs is at least as important as our expectations of heavenly reward. In fact, such earthly stewardship is a vital component in the earning of heavenly rest. Typical conservatives, through misguided religious zeal, are more apt to lose sight of this fact than are liberals.
George McGovern in his book The Essential America, reminded us that the religious views of the founders did not exaggerate the yearning for heaven at the expense of life's exigencies.
The Enlightenment thinkers placed emphasis on the power of human reason, disciplined by experience and observation. They came to believe that through education, humanity could be changed for the better. Most of the Enlightenment thinkers did not renounce religion, but they were sometimes critical of the doctrinaire, authoritarian nature of the established church. [They] tended to encourage a better way of life on earth rather than hopes for the hereafter.
The Essential America, pp. 4-5
We are commanded to be morally clean, but we are also commanded to take care of our fellow human beings. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ reminds us that moral cleanliness and Samaritan concern for others are both important in the obtaining of eternal reward. But the political reaction to President Bill Clinton's sexual escapades a few years ago led me to believe that conservatives place far too high a premium on moral cleanliness at the expense of looking out for the welfare of others. It's as though we skip over passages like the following:
16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
The Book of Mormon, Mosiah ,Chapter 4
The typical conservative can learn a lot from the typical liberal, I think, in this regard. Instead of focusing on what superficially seem to be the rewards of the spiritual hereafter, conservatives would do well to remember that all of God's commandments--even those that seem fleetingly temporal--are foremost to be recognized as spiritual laws. With that balanced perspective, we can begin to see the importance of helping to ensure that more and more of God's children in the here and now have the basics of life, so that they, too, can afford to balance their thinking between temporal and spiritual necessities.