The B.C. and A.D. versus B.C.E. and C.E. debate is heating up. If these abbreviations aren’t ringing a bell (of if they’re so overwhelming that you can’t quite place them), close your eyes and think back to past history classes you’ve taken.
Dates and timelines will likely find their way back into your consciousness, as you recall that both B.C. and A.D. (which stand for Before Christ and Anno Domini — “Year of our Lord”) have, until now, been the basis of historical time.
But the BBC, joining other progressive institutions, has decided that using these religiously-charged abbreviations is no longer appropriate. Signaling major changes to the way that the news network will deliver radio and television reports, the government-funded media company has decided to stop making these references, replacing them with B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era).
Why, you ask? Well, the BBC claims that this decision is rooted in the media outlet’s commitment to remaining impartial. As Religion News Service points out, the network released an official statement saying that it is, “committed to impartiality.” Additionally, the release said, “it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians.”
British Christians, of course, have viewed the change as a move aimed at instilling political correctness. As a result, RNS reports that the network has been inundated with calls from listeners and readers who are less than content with the decision. Melanie Phillips, who is not a Christian but who stands opposed to the change, wrote the following on Mail Online:
…I am a Jew, so I am presumably a member of this group that must not be alienated.
It so happens, however, that along with many other Jewish people I sometimes use CE and BCE since the terms BC and AD are not appropriate to me.
But the idea that any of us would be offended by anyone else using BC and AD would be totally ridiculous.
How could we possibly take offence, since these are the commonly used and understood expressions when referring to the calendar?
Phillips continues by claiming that there is no evidence that any groups are offended by the B.C. and A.D. references. Furthermore, she explains that even if some non-Christian groups were, indeed, offended, “it cannot ever be right for minorities to seek to replace fundamental majority cultural expressions or values with their own.”
Retired Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, an evangelical with a prominent voice in Great Britain, also voiced his opposition:
“This amounts to the dumbing down of the Christian basis of our culture, language and history. These changes are unnecessary and they don’t actually achieve what the BBC wants them to achieve. Whether you use Common Era or Anno Domini, the date is still the same and the reference point is still the birth of Jesus Christ.”
One BBC presenter has already pledged that he won’t be making the network-mandated transition and that he plans to continue using B.C. and A.D. Andrew Marr, host of “The Andrew Marr Show,” explains:
“I say AD and BC because that’s what I understand. I don’t know what the Common Era is. Why is it the Common Era in 20AD and it wasn’t the Common Era in 20BC?”
Earlier this month, the Blaze reported on Australia’s decision to remove B.C. and A.D. from new curriculum. As you may recall, Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen called removing references to the birth of Jesus Christ an “intellectually absurd attempt to write Christ out of human history.”