With Christmas serving as the birthday of the man who was according to his most devoted followers mankind's saviour, it's time to dust off the nearest Doctor Who has to scripture & take a look its presentation of the church and how it has changed over the years.
The Doctor's first brush with such matters of course occurred during The Crusade, which dealt with what was actually the third such attempt to take the Holy Land from the Muslims, or Saracens as they were also known at the time. Militant from the off, you might reasonably conclude. Even the Church of the future embraces a similar outlook, clergymen assigned military rank & indeed fatigues! Remember The Time Of Angels/Flesh And Stone.
AMY: Why do they call him Father?Of course, the Crusaders were the original Christian soldiers, marching as to war.
DOCTOR: He's their Bishop, they're his Clerics. It's the fifty first Century. The Church has moved on.
Something which is also touched upon in The King's Demons, the real King John being away taking the Crusader's Oath while the Master has Kamelion impersonate him in a bid to put a massive spanner in the works of democracy by doing his best to royally screw up the Magna Carta.
From the comparatively minor squabble between royalty & nobility to a battle between Church soldiers & the visual representation at least of a powerful piece of religious imagery. You will of course also recall the furore over the Doctor appearing to ascend with the similarly angelic Host in Voyage Of The Damned, rubbing some up the wrong way.
It was the Tenth who'd first encountered the quantum locked Angels in Blink, too. His next incarnation will come across them in a much more symbolic context.
"A Weeping Angel, Amy, is the deadliest, most powerful, most malevolent life form evolution has ever produced, and right now one of them is trapped inside that wreckage and I'm supposed to climb in after it with a screwdriver and a torch, and assuming I survive the radiation long enough and assuming the whole ship doesn't explode in my face, do something incredibly clever which I haven't actually thought of yet."
Consider also the name of the crashed ship, the Byzantium. Nowadays better known as Istanbul, it was also for a time known as Constantinople after the first Roman emperor to embrace Christanity. As Christian History recounts,
"While marching on Rome, something happened to Constantine, something so vital, so shattering, that it would fundamentally change him, the world and even Christianity. Eusebius, another biographer and a man who knew Constantine well, tells it this way:Taking it as a sign, he did so. Which was credited by some as helping him in his bid to become Emperor & in doing so possibly inspire a certain later novelty pop hit!
Constantine called on God with earnest prayer and supplications that he would reveal to him who he was, and stretch forth his right hand to help him in his present difficulties. And while he was thus praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvellous sign appeared to him from heaven...He said that about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, 'Conquer by this.'
At this sight, he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle.
And while he continued to ponder and reason on its meaning, night suddenly came on; then in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies."
Another Roman ruler, Nero, was not so kind to followers of the faith. Tacitus, writing in his Annuals, said following the Great Fire of Rome..
"To get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians(or Chrestians)by the populace."All to suppress the now-popular myth that he played the lyre as his empire burned! Somebody else was to blame, of course....
VICKI: Honestly, Doctor, and after that long talk you gave me about not meddling with history, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.Perhaps the ultimate demonstration of faith, though, is that offered by the Headless Monks? Believing that the heart is the true domain of such spiritual matters, they simply remove their bonces!
DOCTOR: It's got nothing to do with me.
VICKI: You burnt his drawings.
DOCTOR: Oh, yes, an accident.
VICKI: Well, maybe it was but if you hadn't..
DOCTOR: Well, he could have, he could have, he would have been told someone else. You can't possibly accuse me of that.
VICKI: All right, you have it your way, I'll have it mine.
"Some of you have wondered why have we have allied ourselves with the Headless Monks. Perhaps you should have wondered why we call them Headless. It's time you knew what these guys have sacrificed for faith. As you all know, it is a Level One Heresy, punishable by death, to lower the hood of a Headless Monk. But by the divine grant of the Papal Mainframe herself, on this one and only occasion, I can show you the truth. Because these guys never can be persuaded. They never can be afraid."
The Mainframe is of course assisted by modified priests of the Silence, whose coming had been forecast since the opening of Series Five, Matt Smith's first in the role of the Doctor. And they wanted him dead, to prevent a prophecy culminating in the First Question by which the Time Lords could return. They are of course gods in their own way - something to ponder post-Christmas Day service!