Texas State Board of Education meeting over ditching BC, AD calendar dating system sparks debate

Teacher: 'I believe this is an effort to take out anything the least bit Christian from our public sphere'

Unsplash/Kimberly Farmer
Unsplash/Kimberly Farmer

The agency in charge of setting policies and standards for Texas public schools could be moving away from using the traditional BC/AD dating system.

In a draft of proposed curriculum changes from the Texas State Board of Education (TSBE), the dating terms — which stands for “Before Christ” and “anno Domini,” Latin for “Year of the Lord,” respectively — were replaced with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era).

The change first came to light during the board’s meeting on Aug. 1, when Andrew Pierce, a social studies and special ed teacher from Austin, spoke during the meeting’s public comment period.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

“I see that BC and AD were taken out and BCE and CE were added in instead,” said Pierce. “I believe this is an effort to take out anything the least bit Christian from our public sphere.”

Pierce appeared to make reference to draft documents from the Social Studies TEKS Review Work Group, which used the BCE dating references instead of the traditional BC.

“Getting rid of BC and AD is basically saying that Jesus is offensive, not inclusive and not relevant,” said Pierce. 

Since the change was made to proposed draft documents, it wasn’t clear whether the change would impact actual curriculum used in Texas classrooms.

A request by CP for comment from the TSBE went unreturned.

Following Pierce’s initial comments, board member Rebecca Bell-Metereau said the move has “nothing to do with removing Christ from the calendar, and everything to do with accuracy,” pointing to the 500-year interval between the events described in the Bible and when the BC/AD system was introduced.

When asked if he was aware of that interval, Pierce referenced the Enlightenment period in Europe “when they tried to remove Christianity from everything,” including the BC/AD dating system.

Pierce also acknowledged that while “we don’t know the exact date” of Christ’s birth, that doesn’t diminish the significance of the event or its timing.

“It’s an important part of our history,” he said. “[The dates have] been a fabric of our society, of who we are as a nation, and the whole reason was because of Jesus, it was separated into two different eras.”

“He’s the reason we divide history and He’s made such a huge impact on the history of so many nations in the world,” he added.

Board member Georgina Cecila Perez responded to Pierce’s comments by noting that in the current draft documents, Christianity is mentioned more than 30 times.

“I don’t mean to sound facetious, is that not sufficient?” Perez asked.

In response, Pierce said Jesus is “an important prophet to Muslims” and is mentioned not just in the Bible, but more than two dozen times in the Quran and is worshiped by some Hindus as one of their gods.

The board is expected to revisit the proposals later this month.

So is the proposed change from BC to BCE a move toward cultural revisionism or historical accuracy?

Christina Littlefield, associate professor of religion and journalism at Pepperdine University, told CP the move might address some issues but raises other concerns.

“It’s not about accuracy, it’s about accessibility for people of all worldviews,” Littlefield said via email. “But it’s still a Christian-centric dating system given that European colonization shaped the global dating system most used today.”

While Littlefield said the 4 BC date for the birth of Christ is well-established based on other historic events such as the reign of King Herod, she argued that the proposed change “just masks the problem.”

“It’s still technically determining the common era based on the birth of Christ, and thus is still off,” she contends.

Darrell Bock, senior research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, told CP that he agreed that the “Common Era” use still demarcates the arrival of Jesus despite its neutered designation, but said it might not be as radical a departure as some suggest.

“I myself have used one or the other, in part, depending on the audience,” said Bock. “I think a wiser approach might be to allow that option for students and teachers.”

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.