Australia's new school curriculum will swap all "BC" and "AD" textbook references with the more politically correct "BCE" (Before Common Era) and "CE" (Common Era) terms, a decision that is prompting anger from many Christians.
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority ordered the changes -- which have not yet taken effect -- saying the new terms are becoming increasingly standard.
But Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen called removing references to the birth of Jesus Christ an “intellectually absurd attempt to write Christ out of human history.”
"It is absurd because the coming of Christ remains the center point of dating and because the phrase 'common era' is meaningless and misleading," Jensen told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
He added that it was akin to calling Christmas "the festive season."
The change also has the makings of a potential political firestorm, angering conservatives in Australia's opposition Liberal National party.
“Kowtowing to political correctness by the embarrassing removal of AD and BC in our national curriculum is of a piece with the fundamental flaw of trying to deny who we are as a people,” opposition spokesman Christopher Pyne said.
He added that it was pointless to try to deny Australia's heritage.
"Australia is what it is today because of the foundations of our nation in the Judeo-Christian heritage that we inherited from Western civilization," Pyne said.
Rev. Fred Nile, a member of Australia's New South Wales parliament, called the change "an absolute disgrace."
"The direction of the national curriculum is towards almost a Christian cleansing to remove from our history any references to the role Christianity had in the formation of Australia and still has today," Nile said.
BCE and CE gained favor during the late 20th century to emphasize sensitivity to non-Christians who might object to "Before Christ" or the implicit "Our Lord" reference to Jesus in "Anno Domini," although both terms are still widely used and recognized.
In the U.S., the use of BCE and CE is growing, although guidelines or restrictions about using the terms in public education have largely been left to the local level.