AD vs CE
Let's get this quite straight: the BBC has not banned the use of BC and AD, in favour of the religiously neutral BCE and CE.Though that is what a quick glance at a few of this week's newspapers would suggest.
"The Corporation has replaced the familiar Anno Domini (the year of Our Lord) and Before Christ with the obscure terms Common Era and Before Common Era" intoned the Daily Mail, while giving a hearty pat on the back to the almost unknown medieval monk, Dionysius Exiguus ("Little Dennis") who invented the BC/AD system. If some people find the BCE/CE terminology a bit obscure, that is nothing compared with the obscurity of Dionysius Exiguus -- who has been enjoying a totally unexpected 5 minutes of fame.
No, the BBC hasn't banned BC and AD. So far as I can see, various departments within the organisation have advised that BCE and CE may sometimes be more appropriate for a multi-cultural/multi-faith audience. It has done not much more than draw the issue to the attention of its editorial staff.
I'm actually suprised that it needed much drawing. In ny world CE and BCE have been around for years, and often used instead of BC and AD. I would say that some 50% of academic articles in Ancient History now use CE and BCE, more in the USA. And it hasn't brought the Christian church down -- and certainly not in America.
The issues here are both clear AND tricky. First BC and AD are certainly totally embedded in a Christian world view, though that may be conveniently concealed beneath the standard abbreviations. In fact, Dionysius did not invent the shorthand "BC" and "AD" in the shortened form, he invented the whole principle of arranging time around the birth of Jesus Christ.
Imagine if every newsreader spelled it out in full "England's World cup victory, In the year of our Lord 1966 . . ." or whatever. Then there really would be howls of protest, some of them from the very same people who are now objecting to the rumoured demise of BC and AD.
There is no doubt that this is a Christian system. The problem is that the CE/BCE replacement doesn't exactly un-Christianise it. Dionysius was super successful to the extent that in most circumstances in the west it is now impossible to imagine unpicking the Christian calendar. (Geologists have done it up to a point with BP, "Before Present" -- because with the time periods they are dealing with the line drawn 2000 years ago doesnt matter very much.) So you might say "Why Bother?"... wouldn't it just be better to make people a bit more aware of the Christian framework built into out calendar?
My particular problem with CE and BCE is rather different though. It's an oral one. If you lecture, then BC and AD are great, as it is so easy for your audience to "hear" the difference. If you use CE and BCE when you are speaking you are always having to over-enunciate to make sure they get the point and the difference. And even then, many a hapless undergraduate fails to register, and gets Nero before Julius Caesar.
So if there is a reason that the BBC should generally stick to the old usage, for me it is that it is easier to "hear". Which is quite different from the BBC bashing, "I dont pay my licence fee to have the Lefty BBC undermine Christianity" kind of drivel that has come flooding out! Try Boris Johnson missing the point here.