Dierenfield Discusses Battle Over School Prayer

June 11, 2012


BUFFALO, NY – Canisius College History ProfessorBruce J. Dierenfield, PhD, will discuss his book, The Battle Over School Prayer: How Engel v. Vitale Changed America on “Fairness Radio with Chuck and Patrick”on Tuesday, June 12 at 1:15 p.m. Listen to him live, online, at fairnessradio.com.

Published in 2007, The Battle Over School Prayerexamines the first court case that addressed the constitutionality of prayer in public schools. Engel v. Vitale was a landmark United States Supreme Court decision that determined it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and require its recitation in public schools. The case was brought about by parents of students, who complained the prayer “Almighty God” contradicted their religious beliefs. 

In The Battle Over School Prayer, Dierenfield sets his account of the decision in the larger historical and political context, citing battles over a wide range of religious activities in public schools throughout American history. He takes readers behind the scenes at school board meetings and court deliberations, and reveals the large price paid by the plaintiffs and their children, who were harassed both during and after the trial. Finally, Dierenfield illustrates how the case has had a polarizing effect, reverberated through subsequent decades and gained intensity. 

Dierenfield is director of the Canisius College All-College Honors Program. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Olaf College and holds a PhD in American history from the University of Virginia. 

“Fairness Radio with Chuck and Patrick” is broadcast nationally, online, on the CyberstationUSA and Blogtalk Radio networks, and on-air in Boston, Tampa and Ashland-Medford. Its mission is to bring passionate but rational debate to the AM talk radio. 

For more information, contact the Canisius College Office of Public Relations at (716) 888-2790. 

Canisius College is one of 28 Catholic, Jesuit colleges in the nation and the premier private college in Western New York. Canisius prepares leaders – intelligent, caring, faithful individuals – able to pursue and promote excellence in their professions, communities and service to humanity.