Can Historians Take Christ out of ‘B.C.?’

The Associated Press reports that the ongoing effort by the forces of political correctness to remove the terms ‘B.C.’ and ‘A.D.’ has run into complications. For some years, secularists and advocates of cultural inclusivism have argued for the exclsuion of the terms ‘B.C.’ [for ‘before Christ] and A.D. [Latin, anno Domini, or ‘year of our Lord’]because these are offensive to non-Christians. For over a hundred years, some Jewish scholars have substituted ‘B.C.E.’ [before common era] and ‘C.E.’ [common era] in an effort to avoid reference to Jesus Christ. This has posed a dilemma for publishers of textbooks and historians, who must decide how to reference specific years. Steven Brown, dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, explained, “When Jews or Muslims have to put Christ in the middle of our calendar . . . that’s difficult for us.” In his article, reporter Michael Gormley also cited Gary B. Nash of the National Center for History in the Schools, who remarked, “I think it’s pretty common now. Once you take a global approach, it makes sense not to make a dating system applicable only to a relative few.” A relative few? Candace de Russy, a trustee for the State University of New York, nailed the real issue. “The use of B.C.E. and C.E. is not mere verbal tweaking; rather it is integral to the leftist language police–a concerted attack on the religious foundation of our social and political order.” She’s absolutely right, of course. Beyond this, who do they think they are fooling? You can rewrite the initials and revise the textbooks, but you can’t get around the fact that the incarnation of Jesus Christ was recognized in the development of our calendar as a signal event that required a new starting point for history. Ignoring the obvious is not a winning strategy.

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