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Columnists

The last trump

Agnostics Anonymous

With my tenure as an anonymous agnostic drawing to a close, I'm considering converting, either to evangelical Christianity or fundamentalist Islam. Philip Collins gave me the idea. Bemoaning the radicalisation of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, he appealed in The Times for anybody of less fervent disposition to join the party, to reverse its revolutionary momentum: 'Let the cry ring out to the army of the uninterested and the cavalry of those with better things to do…Free us from the tyranny of the interested minority'.

Most people have no time for heroic struggles, whether conducted through politics, religion or the other areas where self-important people congregate. They just get on with their lives. But that leaves the field to a minority of fanatics who spoil things for the rest. As a half-hearted left-leaner, I could join Labour and dilute its self-destructive zeal.

In the big picture, though, radical Labour is irrelevant. More immediate dangers are fundamentalist Islam in the east, and rampant US nationalism in the west. Eight years of Obama has kept the clash of these two from turning apocalyptic, but now the last Trump could be sounding.

Couldn't all the apathetic, non-voting Christian Americans add their weight and inertia to the Republican party, and stop its evangelical hardcore driving the whole party and country over the cliff? Most Muslims are moderates, we know, and there's a billion-plus of them. Only the most radicalised head to Syria. A better arrangement would be to flood Isis with the least interested moderate Muslims, and let its rage fizzle out as its membership bloats up.

If apathetic Americans and moderate Muslims aren't willing to take on the job of smothering their own radical minorities, couldn't those of us who really feel no commitment to either of their causes, just convert? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and drag 'em down to your level.

It might seem a bit presumptuous, to join a religious group and then immediately try to push it in a new direction, but, then, St. Paul did it. I remember reading Lauren Booth, months after converting to Islam, describing the 'grief' that 'we Muslims feel when "non-Muslim nations have attacked our villages.' Although until very recently she wasn't one of 'we Muslims', suddenly she felt able to speak for them all. In the century of the selfie, we apparently have infinite right to whatever identity we claim.

So, anyway. We evangelical Christians/Muslims will be toning it right down in future. We've come to think maybe we don't have an exclusive monopoly on Truth after all, and perhaps we should just shut up and let other people get on with their own lives without our unsolicited advice. We've seen the light!... Hallelujah, and goodnight.