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Jesus jumps to rival team

Christ converts to Islam

Epiphany for prophet leads to change of religion

Jesus H ChristFollowing the lead of ex-President George W Bush, religious leader and messianic prophet Jesus H Christ has converted to Islam.

"It was a long time coming, but I couldn't resist the inevitable any longer," says Christ, 33, from his home in Dead Horse, Kansas.

A stores assistant in a local factory producing self-assembly furniture, Christ says he hopes his followers will understand and even emulate his example. "The next time you're passing a mosque or are about to drink a beer, ask yourself 'what would Christ do?'," he suggests.

Members of Christ's church, the Sacred Heart of Dead Horse, are rumored to be unhappy at the move.

"He's done some dumb stuff in his time, but this about beats everything," says Wienus Cornstobble, 89, lay preacher and editor of the church's MySpace page. "I mean, his fish supper evenings were pretty bad, what with everyone going home hungry. And that stunt on the lake ... well, I don't even want to talk about that. But this is just plain stoopid."

Christ, however, is unrepentant.

"Just look at Christianity, which is what I was preaching," he says. "I mean, it's so old. It's just out of date, which is why everyone is giving up on it. Islam, on the other hand, is younger, more vibrant. I think it has a lot more appeal. And in today's dog-eat-dog religious environment, you have to go where the market is."

Born as Billy-Bob Aletius Neufuffle, the preacher changed his name to Jesus Hellacious Christ in January 2000 after what he says was a moment of revelation.

"When the Y2K thing didn't happen I figured it was for a reason," he says. "I knew I had a mission."

Christ took a correspondence course in past life regression from the Wichita School of Spiritualism and Soothsaying. To his amazement, he discovered he is the reincarnation of the original Jesus.

"That blew me away," he claims. "It completely changed my life. I knew for certain then that I wasn't just another working stiff - that I had an important role to play in this world."

Christ immediately moved out of his brother-in-law's back bedroom into one of Dead Horse's most upmarket trailer parks.

"I got me a double-wide," he says. "Nothing less would do for the Son of God."

Since then he has established his church and built a congregation of over two dozen members. "It varies a lot," says Cornstobble. "Most of them are pretty old so the numbers tend to dip come winter."

For the congregation, Christ's message that the End Times are near is what attracted them to the church.

"The first Jesus kept banging on about how God's kingdom was nigh," says Emily Scroggit, 93, "and that was two thousand years ago, dammit. I ain't got much time left, so if it's gonna happen it, it'd better happen damn soon. Billy-Bob ... I mean, Jesus H, said he could bring it on. But now he's fooling around with all this A-rab bullhickey. Ain't nuthin' in that for me, so I figure I might try them Mormons."

Wearing a taqiyah and white galabiyya, Christ was calm about all the criticism he's receiving. "Although this means a demotion, from part of the godhead to simple prophet, I think it's the right move for me," he says. "And I think the other members of my church will come around. After all, Islam is just another Religion of The Book and provides all the same opportunities for social superiority, discrimination and, when necessary, forceful action that Christianity offers. And the outfits are pretty natty, don't you think?"


Tags: religion Jesus Christ Islam

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