In the United States, there is both religious freedom and academic freedom. In the world of academic freedom there seems to be an orthodoxy of non-sectariansim that invades thought and speech. Movies like God's Not Dead and... God's Not Dead 2 have documented this over and over again as issue.

But has anything so minute as forcing Christian scholars to use the abbreviation BCE and CE instead of AD and BC on their published works occured? If so, what reasoning do irreligious people have for making such a request and what apologetic has (if any) said Christian scholars used for refuting them?

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    Some academic journals have standards on matters of style and these may apply to BCE so scholars would need to follow these, or their submissions would be edited. Is that the sort of thing you mean?
    – davidlol
    Feb 5, 2017 at 19:39
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    "God's Not Dead" is not a documentary. It's fiction.
    – user33366
    Feb 6, 2017 at 23:16
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    @sumelic, the credits are what I'm talking about.
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 6, 2017 at 23:18
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    Would this be better at Academia (with a few edits)? It seems to be more a question about what kind of academic pressures scholars are under than a question about Christian beliefs. It certainly concerns Christianity, but it seems like a question better answered by those with a domain knowledge of academia than of Christianity. Feb 8, 2017 at 15:10
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    @mr. I think that's a fair point (although I don't want to ask it there personally) mainly this question was borne out of a test of these two meta posts: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/6240/… meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/6208/…
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 8, 2017 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


Our traditional calendar references of AD and BC are neither ancient nor entirely sacred in the sense of a reference to the birth of Jesus. It was first proposed in 533 by the Roman abbot Dionysus Exiguus, but as a practical matter he began counting years from from what he believed to be the year of King Herod's death1, not from the year of Jesus' birth, which he realised was unknowable. Nevertheless, the pagan Roman calendar continued in use until the ninth century, when Dionysus' calendar began to be adopted widely, with its references to AD (Anno Domini) and BC (Before Christ).

Many Christian scholars continue to use the terms AD and BC in their writing, but others have adopted the more neutral CE ('Common Era' or 'Christian Era') and BCE ('Before Common Era' or 'Before Christian Era') as much in deference to Jewish and other non-Christian sensitivities as any other reason. I have never seen any request for them to do so, either from irreligious people or people of other faiths, and therefore no refutation of such requests. Most certainly, Christian scholars are not forced to use the newer terms, as evidenced by the number of Christian scholars who continue to use the older abbreviations.

If the Christians of the early Middle Ages felt that the use of a Christian calendar, with AD and BC, was of such little moment that they delayed its use for some centuries after its development by Dionysus Exiguus, then we need not be overly concerned about whether some choose to use the same calendar, but with CE and BCE.

1We now know that King Herod actually died in April 4 BC/BCE.

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    Dick, will you share the source for the new knowledge of Herod's death in 4 BC?
    – Gina
    Nov 8, 2017 at 14:27

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