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March 25th, 2011
09:34 AM ET

Christian to Muslim: A change of faith

Editor’s Note: "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" features the Muslim community of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Matthew Miller has lived since age 15. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door” airing at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. E.T. April 2 on CNN.

By Elizabeth M. Nunez, CNN

The actual conversion was brief. It only involved one sentence: “I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but God, I bear witness that Mohammed is the messenger of God.”

For 30-year-old Mathew Miller, those words represented the culmination of a long religious transformation from Christianity to Islam.

Miller is a digital media communications major at Middle Tennessee University and works part-time at a golf course. He was raised Christian in California, surfing and dreaming of being a radio DJ.

“My first interaction with Islam was this movie called ‘Not Without my Daughter’. That was my first glimpse into what Western society believed was really going on in Islam,” he said.

"Not Without My Daughter" is a 1991 film in which Sally Field portrays an America woman who flees from Iran with her daughter. The movie, based on true story detailed in a book by the same title, was faulted by critics for portraying a stereotypical view of Iranians and Islam.

But in questioning his own beliefs, and after a conversation with a Muslim friend, Miller’s interest in Islam was piqued.

“I think for the most part I was afraid, don’t really know of what,” he said.

Later, attending Friday prayers at a small Mosque in Murfreesboro, he began to learn more.

“When I put my head on the ground with them, it felt like I could say anything to God, and what I was asking for at the time was guidance. I wanted to know whether what I was doing was the right thing to do.”

His mother had long expected his change of religious faith. “I told my mother I was Muslim in Disneyland. She said ‘I don’t necessarily know if I feel good about it, but if it makes you happy and it’s what you feel is the right way, then there’s nothing I can do.’”

Now he regularly worships at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro mosque.

Miller, a white convert in a diverse congregation, has heard comments about his faith - and the controversy surrounding his mosque. Once, an Iraqi war veteran told him that the new controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro should not be built because it could potentially harbor terrorists.

“I addressed his questions formally and it was funny because at the end of the conversation, he kind of started admitting, 'Well you know, I don’t know anything about Islam.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Interfaith issues • Iran • Islam • Mosque • Muslim

soundoff (3,206 Responses)
  1. paul

    Another one lost. He needs to be watched because recent converts, specially Americans are prime candidates, targets and prizes for radicalization to do terrorism here. I do know about islam and I judge it to be a false religion with a false prophet. Many fools have been falling for this lie for 1400 years. If he manages to stay benign, then he's harmless but I seriously doubt it. Islam is a violent vicious and intolerant religion of othes. Lets hope he sees the light sometime.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  2. C me

    A couple things here, first, all reliigons have their fanatics. Read the Old Testament and you will see parallels. Thing is, most Christians follow the New Testament which is more touchy feely, feel good stuff. But then we have the WBC, loonies.

    Good for this kid following his heart. For those of you who are tired of this "religious crap", don't you know that you are a vast minority? Most people in this world have religious faith. Just because you think you are more enlightened (you're not) than the rest of us shows your true weakness. I pray that you find true faith and meaning in your lives that you are part of something much bigger than yourself or this tiny rock we all live on.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  3. LM

    The important thing about a religion, any religion, or no religion, in the United States is whether its followers respect the rights of others to practice, or not practice religion as they wish. Some posters here have expressed their disdain for all religion. That is fine as long as they respect the rights of others who wish to practice a religion. Likewise Islam in America is just fine if its leaders and followers respect other religions. For example I met a “respected” imam who said in one breath how much he loved the First Amendment, but in the next breath said that blasphemy should be a crime in the U.S.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  4. lonemountain

    Why does this article make the headlines with CNN? Will you also do a similar display about the many, many Muslim's converting to Christianity?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Melissa S

      That is a good thought. I would be interesting in seeing the flip side to this.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  5. Christian

    You have to be a Christian to convert from Christianity. Going to a Christian church does not make you a Christian. All the religions have a messiah or messenger to God, Christ is the only one the is still alive.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Teodoro Nunez

      But in the Bible Belt religiosity is very high. Your argument could make sense if it was an urban family that sometimes went to church on Christmas. But Murfreesboro, TN is a bastion of actual Christian religiosity

      March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  6. Simple Math

    The singularity that caused the Big Bang would be a MIRACLE, since it states that NOTHING created SOMETHING out of emptiness. Emptiness can not be tested for, so it is philosophical is description. The main idea is that MATHEMATICALLY the Big Bang states that 1=0. Makes absolute sense to me. LOL

    March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  7. Marcos V.

    When we stop believing in invisible omnscient beings and realize we are really just mediating with our self concious only then will wars violence and hatred stop. Over 2000 years and every religion has commited attrocities in the name of their faith.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  8. Chuck

    If he converted to Islam, he was never a true Christian to begin with.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Teodoro Nunez

      Who is a true Christian, Chuck?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  9. jame5

    why this editor publishing about satan to chage other good christians

    March 25, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  10. Marcos V.

    When we stop believing in invisible omnscient beings and realize we are really just mediating with our self concious only then will wars violence and hatred stop. Over 2000 years and every religion has commited attrocities in the name of their faith. You arent supposed to harm anyone then why is Ok to harm those of opposing religions? Only man would have created such contradictory terms

    March 25, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Harfnab

      Marcos this is so demonstrative of your clear ignorance of reality. Ever heard of the Chinese "great leap forward?" It only likely cause more death last century than any other single event and was an enemy of religion.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  11. Fresno

    God save us from organized religion. It has so much blood on its hands. This seems to be a story about the triumph of emotion over intellect. In this particular instance, it seems to have been a very uneven match.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  12. umish katani

    RELIGION: All empires have a zealous state religion to promote the guilt, shame, fear, and to "inspire" the vassals into submission. Religion is not faith or spirituality, it is an imperial way to control every aspect of human existence. No matter how much it seems spiritual, the minute you have money or politics or power involved, you have an imperial religion.
    All religions claim to be the "one true way", and that their followers are "the chosen people", and that all others are damned infidels who must be forced to convert or die. The ruling religious powers also respond to any criticism or exposure of their hypocrisy by loudly proclaiming that they are being oppressed. This is hilarious, as the biggest oppressors in modern empire are the state religious zealots! People originally join the religion out of fear of military threat and social ostracization, not out of respect or belief. There is no such thing as a god, just as there is no such thing as devine fate. There is no god only man who creates one to justify things he cannot yet explain. So people who convert from one religion to another are just fooling themselves instead of facing the truth.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Christian

      All religions claim to be the "one true way", and that their followers are "the chosen people", and that all others are damned infidels who must be forced to convert or die.
      There is only one religion that makes this statement. If you push someone into religion or disown a family member because of their religion that person will never have a pure heart just a minipulated one.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  13. Peter

    Guy does not look very bright... nice try liberalNN.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  14. Justin

    There are so many radical Christians that repeat things they don't understand. There are so many liberals who haven't researched what Islam really is. In between these two extremes lays a religion based around violence. Most Muslims can't even quote a single verse from their own literature.

    Here are a few quotes from the book of Sura:
    "O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Those of you who make them his friends is one of them. God does not guide an unjust people. – 5:54"

    "Believers! Make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Let them find harshness in you. – 9:123"

    The "radical" Muslims are just following the text. The "peaceful" Muslims are considered to be incredibly liberal and western by most Orthodox.

    My 2 cents...

    March 25, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Caspian

      Justin, you are absolutely right. I researched and studied the Quran after 9/11 and I can vouch for your statements.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Teodoro Nunez

      "Most Muslims can't even quote a single verse from their own literature. "

      Huuuh? Memorization and oral recitation of the Qur'an is a favorite pasttime in many Islamic countries.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Peter

      Like I said dude does not look bright.. finding hatred would not be on this kid's agenda.. just finding other morons at peace was.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  15. Caspian

    Here goes CNN again... promoting Islam. Wonder if they would have the nerve to promote Christianity in muslim nations or even defend Christians when they are persecuted and even killed in islamic nations like when it happened recently in Ethopia, Nigeria, Egypt etc.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Sammie

      I bet the number of Christian terrorists runs neck and neck with the number of Muslum terrorists.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Teodoro Nunez

      "Wonder if they would have the nerve to promote Christianity in muslim nations or even defend Christians when they are persecuted and even killed in islamic nations like when it happened recently in Ethopia, Nigeria, Egypt etc."

      Uhh, Ethiopia is a mostly Christian country.
      Nigeria is split between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south. Both religions share control of the federal government. Islamic law is enforced in parts of the north only.

      Out of them, Egypt is dominated by Muslims, and discrimination against Copts is a recurring element of society.

      But remember that this is an article from CNN US, which has an American audience. CNN's international division doesn't air these public interest articles.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  16. Houcine

    As a Muslim American, I am shocked by the level of ignorance some red necks (for a lack of a better word) are displaying in this forum. It would a waste of time to engage in a debate with these ignorant people because they simply don't know any better. Goethe, a famous German philosopher, once said, " There is nothing more dangerous than ignorance in action".

    These are the people that give our country a bad name.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Caspian

      Isn't that and answer to every critic of Islam.... "you are ignorant". Stop hallucinating and go read the Quran with an open heart for knowing the truth and you will find out the many mistakes and inconsistencies within it.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Sammie

      Sounds exactly like the Bible.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Colleen

      I am a Christian in the true sense of the Word!!! I am appalled when I hear or see people who profess to be Christians behave in a bigotted manner toward others. Everyone has a right to their own beliefs. We will all see God in the end and HE is the judge!!!!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Randy Royal

      Your use of the term redneck shows your own ignorance. The origins of the term date to the 1700/1800s when, farmers working in the field would come home with red necks. Your belief that redneck is a term of ignorance is the same as someone using the term Muslim in place of terrorist. Why would you attack one group you don't understand in defending another.

      Thank you,

      March 25, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  17. fundies

    I like GODzilla movies.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • TargetZero

      King Kong is my favorite.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  18. Billy

    Never trust a muslim....never.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Sammie

      Drama queen.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • fundies

      Dancing Queen. Abba fan.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  19. Ghostality

    It is strange to jump from one frying pan into another. Or say I moved from one mental drug to the other. Both have side effects and both are detrimental. There is nothing wrong with a human being moving away from both camps and living peacefully. The packaging isn't the most important part. I tend to believe it is what is inside the package that matters most.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • TargetZero

      Well said.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  20. Billy

    idiot

    March 25, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • fundies

      lamb

      March 25, 2011 at 10:55 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.