Years back I worked in a Catholic hospital in Baltimore- my favorite job ever. It didn't matter that I was not Catholic... until the day that a large wooden cross was placed on the wall of my office directly over my desk, years after I was hired. I quietly took it down and placed it in a drawer- it was put back up the next day by a co-worker, who occasionally worked in the same room. This continued for a week.

I eventually spoke to our supervisor about this- I felt that had the cross been there BEFORE I had started the program we ran out of that room, it would have been one thing. But KNOWING I was not Catholic and that a large number of our patients were Baptists, it didn't seem right. My supervisor agreed with my views (she also was not Catholic), but was reluctant to "buck the system".

So good for you, HF- religious freedom means being able to believe (OR NOT!) as one wishes, without having religious icons, symbols or phrases shoved down one's throat! I think you handled that well.


In high school I decided that *my* notes weren't going to say BC/AD. The first time I handed them in, I had a big circle round BCE. I told my teacher what it was, and it was fine. He didn't, however, change to BCE/CE as a system (as I recall), something I think I should have asked for. But it was my first year in the school and I was a little cowed -- after that, I only took history from, say, 1000 and later, so we didn't need to identify when it was.

What amazes me is that the Kentucky story shows you can't even *mention* BCE/CE. Not just "we'll use both", or "we'll mention BCE/CE, use BC/AD but accept either from students", but no: you have to pretend that the standard way of doing things doesn't exist.


"Our Lord" just sounds silly to me, so I would have deleted it too. But I don't really think it rises to a constitutional issue, as Puglette believes ("...religious freedom means being able to believe (OR NOT!) as one wishes, without having religious icons, symbols or phrases shoved down one's throat!"). Wrong, Puglette. Bone up on your subject.

Remember too that at common law, "Lord" is one who granted a feudal estate in land to a tenant. Since serfs often used a different calendaring systems (pagan) to the educated classes, and so contracts and deeds would refer to the Lord's calendar, NOT a deity, but the actually the landlord’s calendar. Read on:

“The European dating system is infused with pagan holdovers that, if taken seriously, lead to exactly the opposite conclusions ... We have a seven-day week, after the model of ancient Israel, but we inherited Pagan names for these days; does the Constitution then establish Sun worship when it accepts Sunday from the ten days Presidents have to veto a bill before it becomes law? Does it establish worship of the Moon when it says that Congress will begin its sessions on the first Monday of December? Does the use of European names for months mean that the Constitution establishes worship of Julius Caesar (July) or Augustus Caesar (August)? The issue was a serious one for some Christians; Quakers, for example, adopted numerical references for days and months precisely to avoid objectionable Pagan names. The rejection of the Quaker system suggests that the founders read very little into their dating practices. To base an argument on those practices is to stand on extraordinarily shaky ground.”

The Happy Feminist

I'd have to disagree. It seems to me that there would be a good case that these are an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity. Consider:

(1) We are not challenging the actual dating system based on the year of Jesus's birth. The dating system itself may have had religious origins but are now simply a commonly accepted system of dating that everyone uses. I don't think saying that this is the year 2006 is the same thing as saying one is a follower of Jesus Christ, any more than using a seven-day week endorses Biblical law. But that's not what's being challenged.

(2) We are challenging the use of the terms "B.C." and "A.D." These are NOT merely commonly used terms equivalent to referring to Wednesday, a name of the week named after a Norse God. Secular historians never use "B.C." and "A.D." so insisting on doing so definitely makes a statement.

(3) And the statement definitely is a belief in Jesus as "Christ" or "Lord." B.C means "Before Christ." Christ means Messiah. Therefore using B.C., particularly when it is not the standard usage, endorses a belief that Jesus was a Messiah. Same with "A.D." (By the way I dispute your theory of the origin of that term. A.D. refers to "our Lord Jesus Christ." The dating system dates from the year of Jesus's birth and A.D. mirrors the term "B.C.")

I think using "A.D." (as I did growing up in public school) was once merely standard usage and without a particular religious meaning. But now it contrasts with the standard secular practice


Give me the names of some secular historians writing in the 18th Century who didn't use B.C. or A.D. I see it as a harmless calandaring mechanism, yes, just like saying Wednesday.


I'm not sure I buy that BCE/CE are "standard secular practice" merely because (and I'm taking your word for this... ) it is the practice of historians. By the same token, the standard practice for measurement by those in the scientific community is metric -- but even though that makes more sense in so many ways, no one would claim it's a standard practice (in America) outside the scientific community.

I likewise don't buy Richard's explanation, and I APPLAUD your amendment of the indictment templates (both for the separation of church/state and for the elimination of stupid legalese). But I tend to think the AD/BC thing is, or at least is becoming, a vestige much like naming weekdays after Norse gods -- a formerly religious reference that has really become pretty devoid of that original meaning. But perhaps I just don't have to think about it because it doesn't conflict with my worldview

The Happy Feminist

Richard, I am not talking about the 18th century. I am talking about NOW. Didn't I say in my comment that the use of B.C. and A.D. was merely standard practice but is no longer?


Also bear in mind that most people cannot find the relationship between the weekdays (or months) and the various gods they relate to. And if the words were beesea and aydee, perhaps it would be the same -- but the relationship is still clear. (I don't particularly object to BC, because I think it's a clear description and not particularly religious, just mentions Christ. I do object to AD, because it is the year of our Lord, and he's not my lord.)

People in the US use measurements daily. They don't discuss different dating systems regularly, so standard practice among non-historians is meaningless. I agree that BC and AD were once standard practice (though never secular), and I agree that if a high school student wants to use them, they should be allowed to, but that doesn't make them standard or without religious significance.


>>> Happy wrote: Didn't I say in my comment that the use of B.C. and A.D. was merely standard practice but is no longer?

Yes, but in your post you wrote that, “’B.C.E.’ and ‘C.E.’ have been used by historians for ages.” ... As if B.C. and A.D. haven’t?! They are two different ways of marking the same thing. I’m an atheist, but there’s very little historical doubt that a man named Jesus Christ lived, or that he had an enormous impact on history. So B.C. is a marker of time, not a proclamation of faith.

Ah, but Christ means Messiah, you say, and that changes everything. If you want to play that game, Wednesday is named after a West Germanic deity, “Woden.” If some secularist came along and wanted to change "Wednesday" to the word "Four," in order to strip it of all its religious connotations (oh, the zealotry!!), are we to look at those who want to continue to use “Wednesday” as religious extremists because they won't conform to the secularists’ reform?


Richard, you're also not distinguishing between weeks and months (other than Sunday and Monday) named after things that people pretty much do not worship anymore (or, in the cases of July and August, ever did really) and about systems named after current religions. Your argument works fine for BC, but not quite as well for AD.

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