I struck a very teeny blow for the separation of church and state during a week when I was acting D.A. for my small rural county (the week between the departure of the prior D.A. and the swearing-in of the new D.A.). During that week, I quietly went into the computer system and changed the wording of our indictments. The indictments previously stated: "On this the ____ day of _______, in the year of Our Lord ______, the Grand Jury etc. etc." I deleted the words "of Our Lord." The indictments issued since then read only that the Grand Jury gathered "in the year _____" rather than "in the year of Our Lord _____."
I didn't make a public announcement of the change, mainly because I didn't see any reason to, and as far as I know, no one ever noticed. But it made me feel better to know that non-Christian defendants indicted in our county did not have to look at that indictment and possibly feel a chill of worry that they might not have as fair a shake as defendants who agree that Jesus is "Our" Lord. I could also rest easier knowing that I was no longer, in my capacity as a government official presenting indictments to the Grand Jury, endorsing Christianity or any other religion. It struck me as a no-brainer, and really no big deal.
But, apparently, in Kentucky, this kind of thing is a big deal. Kentuckians are adamantly opposed to abolishing the terms "B.C." ("Before Christ") and "A.D." ("Anno Domini" or "In the Year of the Lord") in dates used in Kentucky's public school curriculum. The alternative strikes me as utterly non-controversial -- "B.C." would be replaced by "B.C.E." ("Before the Common Era") and "A.D" would be replaced with "C.E." ("the Common Era"). "B.C.E." and "C.E." have been used by historians for ages. Certainly, it is beyond controversy that we have one dating system for the era before Jesus was born, and another dating system for the era after Jesus was born. No one is advocating the replacement of the dating system which we all in the western world are used to. No one, Christian or otherwise, disagrees that it is indeed 2006 "in the common era." It is, however, very much disputed whether Jesus was "Christ" or whether he is "the Lord." The only thing accomplished by retaining these traditional formulations is governmental assertion of the superiority and truth of Christian doctrine -- to the detriment of Jewish, and Muslim, and Wiccan, and Buddhist children who must necessarily understand that they are not included in references to "our" Lord.
As Amanda notes, for some fundamentalists, "Every teeny tiny thing must uphold their superiority and turn everyone else into the Other."