While writing twelve pages and almost 5000 words in an attempt to study for an exam (I say this not to complain but to highlight my gross inefficiency) on the Old and Middle English periods, I came across a passage in our textbook (A History of the English Language, Fifth Ed., by Albert C. Baugh and Thomas Cable) that I remember chuckling at darkly the first time I read it a few weeks ago. The passage refers to the replacement of the native English clergy with continental French implants in the years following the Norman Conquest:
Ecclesiastics, it would seem, sometimes entered upon their office accompanied by an armed band of supporters. Turold, who became abbot of Peterborough in 1070, is described as coming at the head of 160 armed Frenchmen to take possession of his monastery; and Thurston, appointed abbot of Glastonbury in 1082, imposed certain innovations in the service upon the monks of the abbey by calling for his Norman archers, who entered the chapter house fully armed and killed three of the monks, besides wounding eighteen.
It's true that Christianity has been responsible for much higher learning throughout history, certainly in pre-scientific times, but, for many reasons, the vision of bishops seizing control of monasteries with large gaggles of armed men in tow seems appropriate. What's more, these were acts of religious cannibalism: the zealous bishops described in this here tale were marching on fellow Christians, organizations within their own establishment. Thurston, the dog, even killed a few monks for good measure.
So, yes. Just a bit of atheist/anti-theist candy for the road—for those of us atheists, anyway, who aren't particular fans murder. I don't want to speak for everybody, after all.