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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. the_dude

    You can just look at that guy and see something is not quite right with him. Regardless of christian or muslim faith he looks like a nutjob. Probably likes to upset people for the attention.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  2. halapeno

    You won't read any conversion to Christianity stories in Muslim countries. They execute those people.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  3. Jason

    Centuries of religion have resulted in wars against other religions and the killing of people in the name of a religion. All religions share in this bloody history. When we stop believing in invisible omniscient beings and realize its our own sub concious we are speaking with, maybe then we will all live better lives as we will have no excuse or absolution anymore to excuse violent emotions and actions. Only man would make rules that absolve him of guilt and say its ok to harm others.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  4. fundies

    he could be.......the next american idol.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  5. BarryF

    As an agnostic I have no idea if there is anyone or anything supernatural out there. However, I do respect the religious beliefs of all individuals. I just which people who say they are believers of one belief system could do the same. Christian religions have committed some of the greatest atrocities in history and so have other religions. We need to stop judging and persecuting one another and start realizing the United States (1st Amendment) does not allow for the establishment of religion and Muslim, Christian, followers of Native American religions, Buddhists, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, Wikkans, Agnostics, Atheists, etc. are all just as American as any other group. The United States is not a Christian country, it is a country in which there are many Christians and all religions or lack thereof should be tolerated and treated equally. The Free Exercise clause of the 1st Amendment should protect any religion from wanting to build a place of worship-whatever the religion.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  6. Ehab

    How about Muslims convert to Christianity? Or is that a taboo subject to talk about on CNN?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Orly

      http://articles.cnn.com/2009-09-03/justice/muslim.convert_1_rifqa-bary-mohamed-bary-muslim?_s=PM:CRIME

      March 25, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  7. Jesus is the Light

    And Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light, no one can come to the Father except through me"....son how sad for you to join a religion or anything else without knowing the entire truth about it and the consequences.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  8. TruthBeTold

    ISLAM is the only true faith, belief, religion that is sanctioned by the only ONE god, who has no parallels or associates. It is the truth that appeals to the intelligent when they study it sincerely. Do not be led by the Evil that invokes your ego, arrogance and greed – you must study ISLAM to appreciate it. So shall it prevail by the strength of it's truth and mercy for all.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Noah

      Sorry, but studying and then believing in any religion shows true ignorance, not intelligence.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  9. Tim

    to Beth- You are a very ignorant person if you think "radical" Christians resemble radical Muslims in any way. Yes the lunatics that protest at funerals are vile and disgusting but what they do is a long way from flying plkanes into buildings, brutalizing and denegrating woman, beheading people and intolerance of all excpet muslims. Wake up, grow up and stop being naive.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  10. Z

    No Religion has ever killed anyone. Only people do whether beliving or non believing. All religions teach peace and harmony. It is the people who like to enforce their views. God is ONE in Islam, Christianity and Judiasm. It is again the people who have created variation to get their upper hand and enforce their dogma.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  11. JESUS WAS A MUSLIM

    one God sent one religion in this earth that is Islam. God gave the guidance to the mankind throughout the mankind history but when people change the God's command with the inspiration of the Satan God sent another prophet to guide the mankind to get his mercy. Moses, Jesus and Abraham and all the prophets who came before them were Muslim. But people change their teaching. So God sent Mohammad as a last prophet as a mercy to the mankind.
    Do the Christian don't see how their religious GURU are changing and creating the religion? God reject their religion. These people even don't follow Bible. Bible said don't drink wine, but they created Holy Communion. [Habakkuk 2:15 & Provers23:29-31. don't drink wine]. God consider these people as rebellious to him. and God will punish them severely.

    GodMercy4All.com

    March 25, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Noah

      It's scary to know that people like you exist.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Orly

      why is that scary?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Always Right

      people who say I'm right are wrong.
      people who say I have the truth have butchered the truth.
      you're scary and dangerous.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Blondie5367

      First – Mosas, Abraham and Jesus were Jewish, not Muslim. Second – Jesus is a known prophet/holy man in the Koran and Mohammed respected him. Third – all religious teachings are changed over time to fit what the current group beliefs and feelings are. The writings may have come from God, but they were written, edited and translated by Man – thus they became what Man wanted to hear. Belief and Religion don't always mix well. Belief is more important. God rewards your belief, not which sect you belong to.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Suffragette

      Jesus drank wine. Also, you are misinterpreting the verses that you point out. The one from Habbakuk, says not to get someone drunk in order to take advantage of them. The other one from Proverbs, is warning people about the danger of drinking too much wine. If you are going to point out verses from the Bible, you should at least know what you are talking about.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Cameron

      Your ignorant about Christainity like many posters here. I find it funny that atheist feel the need to comment about something they dont believe in. I never feel the need to tell aquabudda followers my opinion. I guess thats a topic for psychologist and clergy. Jesus said many times who He was so much so that they killed Him for it. Jesus is God. God is Jesus. Christians can not convert to another religion. When we truly covert to Christ we become a new creation with God living in us as the Holy Spirit.

      This is very hard for spiritual dead to understand because they are blind. I would ask you to do a simple prayer.

      Tell God you love him and that there is so much that you still dont understand about Him. Ask Him for understanding and truth.
      That you want to know more about who he is. Then watch what God tells you. Seek God and you will find Him seeking a relationship with you.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Rev. Rick

      So what you're saying here is God made a mistake – with the first (Jewish) prophets, with the Bible, with Jesus, and with those who followed him. The problem with ALL religions, is there are people involved, and that goes for Islam as well. Even Muslims cannot agree among themselves how to correctly interpret the Quran, which is why there are fundamentalists, extremists, and moderates among Muslims. Muslims who not only kill "infidels", but also kill each other because of varying interpretations. Claiming that the Bible, the Quran, or any holy book is perfect and without error is simply nonsense, and your own religion proves it by the actions of its believers.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  12. Jacquelyne

    I have studied (but I am no expert) many religions. I find them all to have lovely meanings in their words and actions. Unfortunately there are those who interpret these words in a way that fulfills their own need for anger and hate. Religion is a personal choice and for me personally not open to debate. Many of my friends are of different faiths and I have been to their services and gatherings. It is only the reluctance to listen and learn that scares people.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Katie

      No, all you religious people want to do is to convince everyone else that your beliefs are the correct ones. It normally is the religious people that are closed minded, which goes directly against ALL religious beliefs. You know, that tolerance idea...

      March 25, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Always Right

      beautifully stated. you're right.
      fear on the outside and fundamentalism on the inside are the enemies.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  13. Love Islam

    Mashallah ! Allahu Akbar.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  14. Ben

    Fine, but would CNN ever run a story of Muslims converting to Christianity? I think not.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Blondie5367

      Ben, those stories are run on Fox News, you know that.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Orly

      http://articles.cnn.com/2009-09-03/justice/muslim.convert_1_rifqa-bary-mohamed-bary-muslim?_s=PM:CRIME

      u fail

      March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • TruthBeTold

      Find me one – who has converted to Christianity from Islam by free-will, without fear or greed.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Hasan

      I've read both the Qu'ran and the Bible. The logical question......Is Jesus who He says he is?............Islam says that he's a prophet of God. Christianity says that He is the Son of God. One common point from both religion is that Jesus is from God rather Son or Prophet. Therefore He speaks the Truths of God. Therefore, why would God allow His Word by His prophet or Son to be changed or distorted then send another prophet to fix it. That means Jesus is Not a prophet or Son from God. If God knew that His Word would be distorted after Jesus, He should give a warning. WELL...He gave such a warning of the coming religions after Jesus. "False Teachers" Teaching things other than Jesus Christ Life, Death, and Resurrection. Therefore, any religion that comes after Jesus is a false. I converted to Christianity from Islam.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  15. MrOpinionator

    Perhaps we finally have found a correlation between the Muslmim faith and low IQ.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Katie

      Nice.... I think there is a point there.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Always Right

      As a christian seminarian I can suggest that you might want to read about what musilims were discovering, inventing and doing in math, science and philosophy during the dark ages, middle ages, and renaissance. They were way ahead. Countless muslims are geniuses. But you're an idiot or possibly an ignoramus, certainly a bigot.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Lambspam

      Well played, Always Right.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  16. John Sharp

    How is this news anyway? An individual changed his beliefs from one ancient book of myths to another ancient book of myths. I just don't see how this is news unless they are viewing it from the historical context in which for the greater part of their existence Christians and Muslims have killed people who do not believe as they do.
    So I guess the subtext is he converted and he wasn't threatened to do so at end of a sword or gunpoint.
    I guess I am reconsidering, that is news worthy.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • cervantes

      It's not "news". It's a story. There's a difference.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Sko

      Uh, this is the "belief blog" section of the site

      March 25, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  17. MP

    no religion is a luxury. im literally laughing at you all.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Rev. Rick

      And we're all looking and pointing at you, and laughing back! It's good that we all have a sense of humor about this...

      March 25, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  18. Rev. Rick

    It's interesting how the human man can rationalize almost anything when it comes to belief. This guy is still pretty young and likely will change his beliefs again as he matures. Just as long as he continues to question everything that someone else tells him.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Rudy

      but of course CNN has to capitalize on it because it's what sells the ratings TODAY....

      March 25, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  19. raju thomas

    We profess that we are Christians; but I doubt whether we practice true Christianity in our life(not all) so that our children
    will understand the principles of christianity and willnot drift to other methods of religious beliefs.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Ryan

      Who is we? Some 20% of America is non-relgious. I can't wait for Christians to become the minority.

      We need an atheist on the supreme court.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Joe

      I I fully agree with you. The problem with most of "raised as christians" in america and also around the world , is they have truly not understood who a "Christian" is. The fallacy is that most people think they are born as a christian and not that they have to "become" a christian i.e be "born again". The same misinformation exists within the non-christian community too.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • judith

      Christianity is a man made religion just as well as the rest, based on rumor, and other stories hundreds of years old at it's inception and took the practices of the man said to be the Christ by those wanting to build their own religion, and abandoned them, abandoned the very principals that Jesus believed. People have taken that and done every atrocity known to man in the name of God, as with every other religion. Religion is build of fear, power and greed.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • raju thomas

      Ryan, Who is " we " that you mention in your comment- only the 20%

      March 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  20. Katie

    Religion is the excuse people make when they're incapable of thinking for themselves...

    March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Albert911emt

      Agreed. People use religion as an excuse for their own intolerance and stupidity.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Noah

      Well said.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • fundies

      Thinking for other people. That sounds a lot like politics.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Always Right

      tell that to the religion faculties at the greatest universities in the world.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Aaron

      And arrogance is the excuse that should be claimed when someone believes their beliefs or non-beliefs are superior and more correct than others. Seriously what do you know? I can confess only my own opinions and I respect those of others.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • judith

      Well said!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
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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.