Christians outraged as BBC drops B.C./A.D. dating method

September 27, 2011

LONDON (RNS) British Christians are incensed after the state-funded BBC
decided to jettison the terms B.C. and A.D. in favor of B.C.E. and C.E.
in historical date references.

The broadcaster has directed that the traditional B.C. (Before
Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, or Year of the Lord) be replaced by
B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) in its television and
radio broadcasts.

The BBC said in an official statement that since it is "committed to
impartiality, it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or
alienate non-Christians."

It described the terms B.C.E. and C.E. as "a religiously neutral
alternative to B.C./A.D.," although critics quickly pointed out that the
new terms, like the old, were anchored around the birth of Jesus Christ.

The new edict drew immediate accusations that the network was guilty
of political correctness run amok as the BBC's phone lines were jammed
with irate listeners and readers.

Retired Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester, a leading
British evangelical, told journalists that "this amounts to the dumbing
down of the Christian basis of our culture, language and history."

"These changes are unnecessary," said Nazir-Ali, "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."

The network also drew fire from Britain's Plain English Campaign,
whose spokeswoman, Marie Clair, said "it sounds like change just for the
sake of change. ... It is difficult to see what the point of the changes
are if people do not understand the new terms."

On Wednesday (Sept. 28), a BBC spokeswoman addressed the
controversy, saying: "Whilst the BBC uses B.C. and A.D. like most people
as standard terminology, it is also possible for individuals to use
different terminology if they wish to, particularly as it is now
commonly used in historical research."