A far-right politician converted to Islam. It’s not as surprising as it sounds.

But although van Klaveren’s conversion strikes his former allies as inexplicable, it is not as bizarre or surreal as it appears. He hasn’t rejected religion, after all; he’s merely changing one strain of it for another. Rather than being like a vegetarian who suddenly becomes a carnivore, van Klaveren’s change of heart is more akin to a committed soda drinker switching from Coca Cola to Pepsi…

Ironically, Muhammad is, in some ways, more compatible with contemporary Dutch (and American) Protestantism than Jesus. Whereas Christ was a radical and outspoken anti-materialist who believed the rich were condemned to eternal damnation, the Muslim prophet was a successful merchant who traded far and wide. Now which of the two sounds more like a Republican or the famously entrepreneurial Dutch?

Van Klaveren “comes from an orthodox reformed [Protestant] background which is a lot like Islam,” posits Joke van Saane, a professor of religious psychology at the Free University of Amsterdam. “They swap one system for another, which makes it easier than for people without a religious background.”