Last updated at 1:27 AM on 3rd September 2011
Australia is to remove the birth of Jesus as a reference point for dates in school history books.
Under the new politically correct curriculum, the terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) will be replaced with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era).
The Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, yesterday condemned the move as an ‘intellectually absurd attempt to write Christ out of human history’.
He described the phrase ‘common era’ as ‘meaningless’, and compared it to using ‘festive season’ instead of Christmas.
The changes, introduced by the government, were supposed to be pushed through next year, but have been delayed by the row.
The terms CE and BCE have been popularised in academic and scientific publications.
Although historical dates won’t change, with Christ’s birth remaining as the change point, the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority ruled that teachers will use the terms BCE (Before Common Era), which will replace BC, and CE (Common Era), which replaces AD, instead.
Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne, of Australia’s Liberal National Party, also criticised the government changes, which were supposed to be pushed through next year but have been delayed because of the row.
‘Australia is what it is today because of the foundations of our nation in the Judeo-Christian heritage that we inherited from Western civilization,’ he said.
‘Kowtowing to political correctness by the embarrassing removal of AD and BC in our national curriculum is of a piece with the fundamental flaw of trying to deny who we are as a people,’ he added.
The Common Era was originally introduced in the Sixth Century and appeared in English as early 1708.
Its use can traced back to the Latin term vulgaris aerae and the English Vulgar Era.
Use of the CE abbreviation was introduced by Jewish academics in the mid-19th century.
The terms CE and BCE became popular in academic and scientific publications in the late 20th century.
They were used by publishers to emphasise secularism or sensitivity to non-Christians, but both still use the Gregorian calendar and the year-numbering system revolving around BC and AD.
The Gregorian calendar – the most widely used in the world – is based on the traditionally reckoned year of the birth of Jesus, with AD counting the years afterwards and BC denoting the years before.
The term Anno Domini is Medieval Latin translated as ‘In the year of Our Lord.’