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.”