UK Schools Removing BC, AD Dating to Avoid Offending Non-Christians

(Photo: Reuters/Stephane Mahe)Students seen in a high school classroom.

Critics have blasted the "capitulation to political correctness" after it was revealed that some schools in the U.K. are removing historical dating terms like B.C., which stands for Before Christ, and A.D., so that they do not risk offending non-Christian students.

Both Muslim and Jewish community representatives have said that they are not offended by the terms being used in religious education classes, however.

The Mail on Sunday reported on the syllabus for schools in East Sussex, which now reads: "BCE and CE are now used in order to show sensitivity to those who are not Christians."

B.C. and A.D., which stands for 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.

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said that removing B.C. and A.D. "is a capitulation to political correctness."

Imam Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said about the B.C. and A.D. dating: "I don't believe it causes Muslims offence."

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews commented: "I don't think anyone would mind if in mainstream schools they use BC and AD."

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey also said that the removal of the traditional terms is a "great shame."

National Association of Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education Chair Paul Smalley responded to the controversy by stating: "Individual SACREs and schools can make a judgment over which form of dating is appropriate."

The National Association for RE teachers separately said back in September that more than a quarter of England's secondary schools do not offer religious education, which goes against the law.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, tried to explain at the time that religious issues are covered in other lessons.

"They might be teaching through conferences, they might be using citizenship lessons, they might be using assemblies," Barton said, according to BBC News.

One teacher, Joe Kinnaird of Coopers Company and Coborn School in Upminster, Essex, said that the subject is vital for students to learn about, however.

"RE in schools provides the best and the perfect opportunity to explore those issues which students see in in the wider world," Kinnaird said.

"RE and philosophy provide students the chance to explore fundamental questions such as what happens after we die, does God exist, how do we cope with the problem of evil?" he continued.

"These questions are both philosophical and ethical and the RE classroom is where we can explore these issues."

Survey data from NatCen's British Social Attitudes, meanwhile, showed in September that for the first time ever, more than half the population, or 53 percent of Brits, said that they have no religion.

Among young people aged 18-24, 71 percent said they do not follow a religious faith.

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