UK schools remove 'BC' and 'AD' from lessons to avoid offending non-Christians

Schools in Britain are removing the terms B.C. and A.D. from lessons in order to avoid offending non-Christians. | Pixabay/Wokandapix

Schools across Britain are reportedly avoiding the use of the terms B.C. and A.D. in lessons for fear of offending non-Christians.

The traditional terms B.C., Before Christ, and A.D., Anno Domini (meaning "in the year of the Lord"), are being replaced with B.C.E., which stands for Before Common Era, and C.E., meaning Common Era, according to Daily Mail. Despite the change, the new terms still denote the periods before and after the birth of Christ.

The Telegraph reported that a number of authorities have already adopted the policy, and others are also considering making the switch.

Standing Advisory Councils for Religious Education (SACREs) from Brighton & Hove and East Sussex were among the institutions that recommended the removal of the terms B.C. and A.D. from Religious Education classes in an attempt to avoid offending non-Christians.

"BCE and CE are now used in order to show sensitivity to those who are not Christians," a syllabus, which is now being followed by schools in Essex, states.

"BCE (before the Common Era) and CE (the Common Era) were first brought into use in the sixth century and are now used in order to show sensitivity to those who are not Christians," East Sussex's 2017 RE syllabus reads.

"Many Christians perceive BCE and CE to be an affront to Christianity. [However] BCE/CE is becoming an industry standard among historians. Pupils have to be able to recognise these terms when they come across them," it continued.

Some critics have denounced the move as a "capitulation to political correctness," while Muslim and Jewish community representatives have said that they were not offended by the terms.

According to the Telegraph, the practice of counting backward for dates "Before Christ," was popularized by the venerable Northumbrian monk Bede, but the idea took almost a millennium to gain general currency.

The German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler has reportedly used the phrase "Anno aerae nostrae vulgaris" — a phrase broadly consistent with "common era" — in an astronomical table he devised in 1615.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey described the decision to remove B.C. and A.D. as a "great shame," noting that he has never met any Muslim or Jewish leader who was offended by the Gregorian calendar.

Paul Smalley, chair of the National Association of SACREs, said that individual SACREs and schools can make the decision on which form of dating to use.

"NASACRE has no evidence that the use of BCE/CE has dramatically altered over several decades," he added.

SACREs, which were established in 1988, are responsible for reviewing the Religious Education syllabus of schools every five years. The advisory councils are composed of four committees, representing the Church of England, other religious groups, teacher organizations and the local authority.