Canadian Museum Reverts to Using Christian Calendar Abbreviations

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  • Canadian Museum of Civilization
    (Photo: Canadian Museum of Civilization/Mathieu Girard)
    Canadian Museum of Civilization
By Jeff Schapiro, Christian Post Reporter
February 27, 2013|6:43 pm

Officials from a Canadian museum have decided to once again use BC and AD to label dates instead of more religion-neutral labels.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization will now use BC ("Before Christ") and AD ("anno Domini," Latin for "in the year of our Lord") instead of CE ("common era") and BCE ("before common era") when labeling dates on text that will be seen by the general public.

Patricia Lynch, a media relations manager for the museum, told The Christian Post via email on Wednesday that officials made the change to the museum style guide because BC and AD are more widely recognized and understood.

"This is not a religious decision," said Lynch. "In academic and scholarly publications and documents, our researchers will continue to use BCE and CE if they wish to do so."

But local religious leaders have mixed feelings about putting the old labels back into use.

Reuven Bulka, an Ottawa rabbi and former co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, told the Ottawa Citizen that he prefers the use of BCE because it is more inclusive, though he doesn't see the change as a significant issue.

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"To me the more important issue is: What was the intention of this? … Not one more person is going to become either Jewish or Christian because of it. It's just a question of: What message does it send?" Bulka told the Citizen.

Brent Russett, senior pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa, Ontario, says the change may not be a victory for Christianity, but it is common sense.

"The calendar is divided by the birth of Christ," Russett said in an email to CP. "BCE and CE are an attempt to obscure that fact, but they do not change that fact. Moving back to BC and AD is an exercise in honesty and clarity, but it is not an exercise of religion."

The Canadian Museum of Civilization, located in Gatineau, Quebec, just north of Ottawa, is in the process of changing into the Canadian Museum of History. Lynch says the updated museum will continue to showcase exhibitions on other world cultures but will place more of an emphasis on Canadian history.

The museum will also become the home of the largest permanent exhibition on Canadian history ever, she says. The museum's transformation is to be completed by 2017, when the nation will celebrate 150 years of confederation.

 

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