BC, AD & The BBC

Media, Observatory


The BBC has been accused of “bizarre” political correctness over a section on its religion website advising staff to use the terms ‘Common Era’ and ‘Before Common Era’ instead of Anno Domini – the Year Of Our Lord – and Before Christ.

It states: “As the BBC is committed to impartiality, it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians.” The Christian Institute’s Colin Hart said: “It’s bizarre. The BBC is adopting a Soviet-style atheist system when we don’t live in an atheist society.”

The BBC responded: “Both AD and BC, and CE and BCE are widely accepted date systems and the decision on which term to use lies with individual production and editorial teams.”

Why not BBBC (Before BBC?) My ex used to refer to anything that happened earlier in my life as ‘LBM’ (Life Before Me ie. without interest) On that note, let’s have a nice picture of Alvar Liddell. Older readers, explain who he was to the younger folk.

7 comments on “BC, AD & The BBC”

  1. Stephen Beat says:

    I am a graphic designer who works for a university. As part of my job I often have to graphically interprate academics scribbles and translate them into understandable illustrations…

    Academics have no problem in using the ‘CE’ and ‘BCE’ labels so I see this issue as more of a intellectual realignment rather than a political one.

    I simply think that Christians feel as though they’re backs are against the wall what with the slow creeping secular society we live in and think that this is the new line in the sand (like Sunday trading).

    It’s more PC to say that we should be using BC/AD than it is to accept the fact that religious encroachment into our secular lives is anachronistic.

  2. M@ says:

    To be honest, someone would moan for the sake of making a point whichever system they used.

  3. Alan Morgan says:

    You’d never have known how little he was, being on the radio. It’s only through pictures like these whereby you can see with the microphone to compare that Mr. Lidell was in fact no more than four feet high.

  4. Gretta says:

    I was taught that CE stood for ‘current era’, rather than ‘common era’. Anyway, like Stephen said, it’s an academic thing more than anything else. We get it a lot in the more recent history and anthropology writings. I’ve no problem with it, but then I’m a stinky heathen.

  5. Sparro says:

    AD & BC are different from each other, so no confusion. CE & BCE are too similar, thereby aiding confusion.
    Apart from that, call them Bert & Agnes, Basement & Attic, or Before & After. It matters not. How people ‘load’ these terms is their obsession.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    No, Sparro, it’s not individual obsession. I’m not, to quote Gretta, a stinky heathen, but in a public school system, where people have all sorts of backgrounds, I always hoped another way of referencing dates could be used. Anno Domini just doesn’t work. Common, or current, era does. It ignores what the shift point is, but unless we’re going to find a new datum point (the fall of Byzantium?) it’s as neutral as we’re going to get. People who insist on the religious reference had better stay away from Moslems who have their own dating, or Jews who also do. They’re just numbers, but you have to start somewhere. (Don’t even mention Bishop Ussher!)

  7. Gordon Sabaduquia says:

    I think it is bizarre to think that using CE and BCE is bizarre.

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