Australia moves to eliminate B.C. and A.D. from textbooks

Christians Down Under are outraged over changes in the national school curriculum that would remove the use of Before Christ (B.C.) and Anno Domini (A.D.) in school textbooks in favor of terms that are more politically correct.  Details, from the Christian Post:

London-based Daily Telegraph reports that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) wants to replace B.C. and A.D. (Anno Domini is Latin for “the year of our Lord”) with less religious terms like BCE (Before Common Era), BP (Before Present) and CE (Common Era).

Christopher Pyne, an education spokesperson for the Federal Opposition, says that the changes are “trying to deny who we are as a people.”

“Australia is what it is today because of the foundations of our nation in the Judeo-Christian heritage that we inherited from Western civilization,” he said.

BCE and CE are not new inventions. The terms were created in 6th century and gained popularity in the late 20th century as a means of describing time in a way that has a more universal appeal.

Though the terms would be changed in the new curriculum, the phrases still apply to the Gregorian calendar under which B.C. and A.D. were created.

Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney, calls these changes 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,” he said in an interview with the Sydney Daily telegraph.

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Comments

  1. Fiergenholt says:

    The use of “bce” and “ce” is neither old nor — as the bishop who was quoted seems to think — anti-Christian. In fact, using bce/ce is more historically accurate.

    Christian historians and Biblical Scholars have known for many years that Jesus of Nazareth was not born in the year that Christianity had traditionally calculated as AD 1.

    Some 1500 years ago,the assignment of a very specific Roman Calendar year to the Christian calendar year identified as AD 1 was at least four and possibly six full years off.

    BUT NO ONE KNEW THAT until a discovery in the late twentieth century of a memorial stone dating back to first century Jordan Valley. That stone specifically mentioned that Herod the Great died in the Roman Calendar year equivalent to the Christian Calendar’s 4bc.

    NOW — if we accept that stone’s accuracy — and we accept that Herod was alive at the time of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth — and we further accept that maybe — at least according to the Gospel of Matthew — Jesus was as old as two when the slaughter of the innocents occurred, the more acceptable date for the birth of Jesus of Nazareth becomes 6-4bc/bce.

    Somewhere in my vast files of stuff on all this, I have a report that was written by some staff at the U. S. Naval Observatory. They can use computer power to calculate the position of the stars in the sky at any moment in human history. As part of their test of this system, they cranked the time line of their computer back to those years. They found that the year we all assumed as AD 1 had no astronomical phenomena worth noting. BUT the year we all assume as 6bc/bce had a genuinely unusual and rare perfect alignment of several of the planets. From the point of view of a person living at that time, it would have appeared as a very bright star — maybe even visible in the day hours. Perhaps the story of the Star of Bethlehem had a natural cause?

    Bottom line — Jesus was likely born 4-6 years before most of us would that thought — thus making that whole bc/ad categories inaccurate and moot.

  2. When I took a Catholic theology class on “The Bible” the terms used were ‘BCE” and “CE” This was in the 1990′s and it made sense. I’m not seeing the problem here. Latin for one term and English for another?

  3. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    A number of years ago the pastor of the parish I was serving in got rid of the catechism series we were using because it got rid of BC and AD. He believed–and I think he was correct–that getting rid of those initials is just part of the movement to radically secularize our culture step by step. He found it revolting that a publisher of Catholic catechisms would be a party to it.

  4. BCE and CE have become common in academia and scholarship for years now. My opinion is that it has more to do with these scholars hostility, contempt and antipathy against Christianity than anything else. I rather read it “before Christian era” an “Christian era”, which would drive the learned scholars bananas.

  5. IMO it has nthing to do with hostility and contempt. It is a courteous recognition of the fact that many people in the world do not believe that Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah (Christ) and Lord. To require them to say “before Christ” and “in the year of Our Lord” is to require them to deny their beliefs.

    Among ourselves as Christians to use the terms is fine, but to expect it of non-Christians is rude and bullying.

  6. We celebrated the New Year this week, Sept. 1, for Eastern Catholics on the new calendar. Father pointed out after Vespers new year’s eve that we’re in the year 7519 από κτίσεως κόσμου, apo ktiseos kosmou, “since the world’s creation”, :-) that Anno Domini didn’t come into the Church until 525.

  7. Richard Johnson says:

    Actually I would think that Christians would appreciate the nod to historical accuracy by using BCE and CE. It does nothing to devalue or denigrate the Lord. It simply acknowledges what we now know of the history surrounding his birth. Once again, our understanding of history and culture changes, and we adjust to accept it. I’m sorry to see some make a big deal of it.

  8. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    Who is being rude?? Who is doing the bullying??? It seems that many Christians have been brainwashed to believe it is rude or bullying to want to preserve Christian culture. No wonder secularism is the culture that is conquering the world. (And Islamic culture will probably be next since people throughout history have wanted some self-confident religion to believe in–not the thin gruel Christianity is in the process of becoming.)
    Will editors and publishers let Christians use the initials they want in publications geared for general distribution??? From what I have heard from some people it is Christians who want to continue using the traditional initials that get bullyed on campus or by publishers.

  9. My impression is that the CE/BCE designations were *originally* quite benign, though I do not know the original motivations with any certainty. It seems quite clear to me that the the current use of the CE/BCE designations is rooted in anti-Christian bigotry, or, in some quarters, a disdain for religion in general. I would think otherwise if the these stood for “Christian Era” / “Before Christian Era,” but in fact, they are generally meant to stand for “Common Era” / “Before Common Era.” In other words, it stems from an unwillingness to acknowledge the *fact* that we measure time from approximately (give or take a few years — the intent is clear) the birth of Jesus. An unwillingness to acknowledge this fact can only be rooted in bigotry — a bigotry which is warmly embraced by many who classify themselves as “intellectuals.” Mind you, I am quite understanding of non-Christians who are uncomfortable with using AD/BC personally (even though I have seen “AD” used in places such as Synagogue cornerstones) as the use of these designations might be taken as an implicit recognition of Jesus as the Annointed of the Lord. To such people (e.g. devout Jews or Muslims), I suggest the practice of using “ChE/BChE,” a clear reference to “Christian Era” / “Before Christian Era,” to distance themselves from the CE/BCE bigotry.

  10. It’s all flim flam. The event which divides BC from AD or BCE from CE is exactly the same, the traditional date for the birth of Christ. So, changing the usage is, in reality, not about “accuracy” but about a desire to divorce Christ (and Christians) from history.

    If a different event was being used to make a separation in time, Let’s say BA (before Augustus) and AA (after Augustus) would we still want to change it?

  11. I have a VERY HARD TIME believing that the Lord High God cares all that much about how humanity calculates time.

    All you have to do is to go back about a dozen years to all that “y2K” fiasco when certain evangelical Christians were trying to convince all of us that something eternally significant would occur the night the second millenium rolled over. Even when I pointed out that 4-6 year discrepancy I noted in post #1, and equally noted nothing important happened in 1994-96, that did not faze those folks one bit. I am sure you all remember — nothing happened.

    AND the same hysteria happened when the first millenium rolled over. There is plenty of documentation describing the social chaos that reigned then — suicides; folks selling everything and going off to climb a mountain and praying for deliverance, etc. Nothing happened then either.

  12. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Fiergeholt…

    No, God doesn’t care. God exists outside of time.

    But as a cultural marker, the use of B.C. and A.D. clearly resonates with a lot of people.

    But a world without B.C.? I’m wondering what impact such a change would have on this!

    Dcn. G.

  13. pagansister says:

    BCE, CE & BP work for me! (except BP sounds like an oil company) .

  14. If it was really about a “common era,” people would be recalculating our dates back to AUC (ad urbe condita, “from the founding of the City”, ie, the traditional date of Rome’s founding).

    But you notice they don’t do that.

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