In what’s perceived as a case of political correctness trumping history and everyday usage, students in Australia are now seeing the calendar term B.C. – which stands for “Before Christ” – being replaced with BCE, meaning “Before Common Era.”
“This is political correctness gone mad,” Shadow Education Minister Jillian Skinner told the Sydney Daily Telegraph. “You ask the average mum and dad out there how they refer to time and calendars, they will use Before Christ [B.C.].”
The change by the Department of Education was first noticed during this week’s English Language and Literacy Assessment test, as 157,000 students in New South Wales were presented with the new term.
A history portion of the test described an ancient flooding problem this way:
“A government surveyor stood beside the Nile River looking worried. Beside him stood his assistants, carrying his equipment. The year was 590 BCE.”
A footnote was included to explain to students that BCE means “Before Common Era” (also known as B.C.).
“This is a case of history being rewritten and abandonment of the use of a calendar which has been around for centuries on the basis that the term might offend someone,” Skinner told the paper.
She says she’s spoken to parents and other educators who are extremely angry over the move.
The headline in the Telegraph declares: “‘Mad’ bureaucrats censor Jesus Christ.”
“They probably replaced an imagined potential controversy – the use of the term B.C. – with a real one,” Steven O’Doherty of Christian Schools Australia told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “The fact that they’ve taken it away has now generated the very controversy they may have been hoping to avoid.”
While B.C. is used in normal language as a historical and scientific chronology guide, BCE is often footnoted in international academic, scientific and museum contexts.
New South Wales Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt admits her department changed B.C. to BCE, but says it was done without her consent.
“The point I’ve made to the department is that both terms are in usage,” Tebbutt told ABC. “I’m completely comfortable with that. But if a text actually has B.C. in it, then we should be leaving it as B.C. We shouldn’t be changing it to BCE.”
The case is reminiscent of a December 2002 controversy in North America.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the Canadian museum displaying an ancient box purported to be the ossuary of Jesus’ brother James was no longer using the Christian designations of B.C. and A.D. to mark the calendar, opting instead for more “modern and palatable” terms.
Royal Ontario Museum abandoned Christian dating system for James ossuary
After a long internal debate, the Royal Ontario Museum decided to change “anno Domini” – Latin for “in the year of our Lord” – to C.E., referring to the “Common Era.” It also shelved B.C. in favor of BCE.
”A lot of people accept the reality of Jesus as a historical figure but don’t accept him as Christ, and to use the words ‘before Christ’ is really quite ethnocentric of European Christians,” Dan Rahimi, the museum’s director of collections management told Canada’s National Post. “And to use ‘the year of our Lord’ is also quite insensitive to huge populations in Toronto who have other lords.”