‘Control,’ he said. ‘Domination. Subjugation if we want.’
‘Uh-huh,’ I said, trying to sound enthusiastic. My face would have made my true feelings apparent but he was striding about the room as he warmed to his theme and paid me little attention.
‘Yes, we’ll have rituals that will bind them to us, to our god. For the newborn, for those reaching puberty and again as adults, when they join to one another in marriage. We’ll be with them every step of the way, guiding them through their lives, reminding them of our message. We’ll be there for them in death, too.’
He swung round to face me. ‘Of course, we’ll need a set of rules for them to follow. I want you to organise that, and the website. We’ll start with an app; can you get onto Christian to get his team working on that? Tablets and ipads at our gatherings of course, so we can do regular updates on high achievers in each locality. A personal touch: everyone loves that. The kids will like the techy stuff – it’s important that we keep them on board.’
He paced some more. ‘Branding. Speak to Saul. We need an identity that will blow the competition out of the water. I want initial designs on my desk first thing Monday.’
He paused, thinking. ‘Get him to look at how to apply it to a range of merchandise too. T-shirts, a range of robes maybe – ask Mary to speak to one of the fashion houses. Mugs, stuff for the house. We need to make sure that we touch every area of their life.’
‘Songs?’ I ventured?
‘Of course. Speak to Mohammed at S.O.P. We want anthems. Only the biggest stars. He’ll know who to contact. And we’ll know what to do if any of them refuse.’
‘And if the public don’t want us?’
His face darkened, brows knitted as he turned to face me. ‘There can be no dissension; we won’t tolerate it. Everyone must understand that.’
‘But if they resist?’
‘We have no option.’
‘We wouldn’t try to negotiate? Get them to see our point of view? Bring them on side?’
‘No.’ He paced some more, in silence. ‘Imagine if they asked you to join them: to follow their beliefs instead of ours. Would you?’
He didn’t wait for my answer. ‘They won’t be persuaded. Trust me; I know how it works. The only answer is to crush them.’
‘But if there is only one god,’ I ventured, ‘then he is everyone’s god, no matter what form he takes. Shouldn’t we tolerate these other religions? Aren’t they entitled to their beliefs?’
‘You really don’t get it, do you?’ he said. ‘One god and one god alone. Our god.’
Invent my own religion? Let’s face it, I wouldn’t.