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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

NSS and BBC blamed for anti-Christian political correctness

The latest threat to British society is the BBC ordering its staff to stop using BC and AD and use CE and BCE instead. The BBC has been accused of “political correctness” and not surprisingly, the Daily Mail is lamenting the end of everything middle England allegedly values. They also report that the Government has stepped in to protect BC/AD. The Mail will not let this story go, running another version of it with Andrew Marr saying he would still use BC/AD. Even the Vatican jumped on the bandwagon, accusing the BBC of ‘historically senseless hypocrisy’ – which of course the Mail then reported.

Except that it isn’t true. The BBC said in a statement: “The BBC has not issued editorial guidance on the date systems. 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.” The advice about which terms to use referred only to the religion section of the BBC website. BBC’s head of Religion, Aqil Ahmed, said “For our religion and ethics programming on BBC television and radio we generally use AD and BC”.

What’s more, these so-called new terms (CE and BCE) became standard in schools nearly a decade ago.

The story then took another twist. The ever-opportunistic Lord Carey, former archbishop of Canterbury, told the Mail that people of other religions do not object to BC/AD but that “In reality, we know it is the increasingly ill-tempered secularists, groups such as the National Secular Society, throwing tantrums at the mention of Christianity, not the Chief Rabbi or Britain’s imams”.

The Mail has been reported to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) for continuing to run a misleading story. However, as Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre is chair of the PCC, the complaint may not get very far.

Published Fri, 07 Oct 2011