The Magazine

Honor Thy Fathers

The biblical rules in cultural perspective.

Mar 31, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 28 • By DAVID WOLPE
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Coogan writes that “display of the Ten Commandments is a blatant and un-American effort to impose a basically Christian perspective on all citizens of the United States.” In an increasingly secular society, a reminder of the central text from which our ancestors drew great inspiration is at least an understandable desire, to be sure. The crude triumphalism that Coogan documents is distasteful, and a greater appreciation for the ways religions change and develop would be salutary. Still, in a book devoted to demonstrating that the Ten Commandments themselves have a history, is it too much to ask for more recognition that they are an indispensable part of our history as well? 

David Wolpe, rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, is the author, most recently, of Why Faith Matters.