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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. chief

    like this knucklehead is some Christian cornerstone....
    raised christian in california
    dreamed of surfing and being a DJ
    he is 30 years old and in college
    working part time at a golf course
    his first interaction with islam was a damn movie

    COME ONE – this isnt exactly what i call a conversion from anything to anything.... this about equvalent as bill murray making a movie as a golf course worker and then later a bowler...

    March 25, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  2. kathy

    Thank you CNN for a warm and compeling story that is told from the heart and mind of a young Muslim convert. This interview opened up a great dialogue among many of my university students, many of whom are Mulsims. Stories like this make for a better world of tolerance and understanding, for it is ignorance or lack of knowledge that bears the fruit of fear and prejudism regardless of where it comes from.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  3. Zeke2112

    Trading one delusion for another? Nothing to see here, folks.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  4. Realist

    If someone wants to believe in Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion fine by me. If you don't believe in anything once again fine. But to see you self rightous, and pompus trolls bashing people for having belief is just as bad as those who hate and kill for their belief. Yous is a whole other hate, a hate for those who can have blind faith in something greater then themselves, while most of you bashing them believe there is nothing greater then yourself. In the end being left with nothing but yourself. Who are any of us to judge a man's belief in God, or something greater. It makes one humble, which I see alot of you need, that is to be humbled. I do not decry a man a lack of faith, but rather decry a man who would attack another for having faith. If faith makes a person better then so be it. If someone needs it as a moral compass, then who is harmed? If it as used as a cause to harm, or kill another then I have a problem with that. But to simply bash someone for having faith under the pretense that you are further evolved for not having it is laughable. To quote Einstein on faith;

    "Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious."

    I would like to see any of the nay sayers on the subject of faith call yourself a greater man then he. I guess he must have been sheeple too. Or is it you who condemn those who have the faith you lack, the ones who are sheeple? Not for the fact that you have nothing to believe in, but because you chastise those that do.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  5. fundies

    sheep = lamb chops

    I like lamb chops.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  6. Josef F

    They're all fairy-tales for the simple-minded.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  7. Timothy C

    I am not a Muslim, but I have many Muslim friends in New York City and around the world. Each and every one of them are kind, generous, and open-hearted. I'm surprised by the level of bigotry on this post. I'm guessing that most of the people posting have never sat down and talked with a Muslim, let alone made friends?

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

      And they're women are sweet tail I've had relationships with two Muslim women and both really knew how to work it. What's really nice about them is that culturally they generally wash or wet nap their privates after going to the bathroom, I wish all women would do that...

      March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Marty

      In a country that is based on tolerance it is a shame that most people think of museums in that light.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Azmat Shah

      Timothy C...First of all Thanks a lot for all this praise for your Muslim Friends...and yeah A true muslim will always be like your friends...Islam means PEACE...just get close to Islam and start learning about it to know its Real Essence. There are tons of rumors about Islam but all of them are wrong. We muslims believe in all Prophets including Jesus..Moses...Ibrahim and all..and if we deny any of them...we wont be Muslims any More...Islam has a lot to say about Jesus and can never negate the religion he taught...because He too was sent by ALLAH for the humanity as was Muhammad(The last of the series of Prophets sent by GOD)....
      We believe that when every human is sighing his last.....he/she will be pleading to Almighty to allot him some more time on Earth so that he/she can worship the Almighty but then the time will not be granted....And after Muhammad if someone is dying a non muslim he will be regretting why he wasnt a Muslim.....Life is too short...they will be no chance then...I invite everybody on Earth to start studying Islam and start converting to IT....Its the way to succeed not only in this World but also the World Hereafter.....Let me tell you all Christians and Jews...we worship the same God whom u do.....You are no Changing GOD..you are just trying to embrace HIS last and obligatory Religion.......And Congratulations to you Mr Convert....May Allah bless You....

      March 25, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  8. fundies

    people = sheep

    March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  9. jay

    good for you brother...no matter if society continues to bash you ...keep your faith.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  10. Shannon

    Since he is now a muslim... does that mean he gonna kills his parents because they are infidels?? Just curious.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  11. American

    Who Cares!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  12. Marty

    There are genuine people in all religions but the majority of people who claim to be Muslim or Christian that spew hatred and darkness contradict there own faith and need to look into the mirror from time to time. If you wish pain or illness on anyone you are neither a Muslim or a Christian.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  13. Keith

    He looks like a child molester. Islam can have him.

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

      If he was a chester he'd have turned to the priesthood lol.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  14. Micah

    Just another case of the liberal media pushing their islam agenda. This is pathetic article about a clueless kid who found something to latch onto. Study Christianity and it is God's Truth. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. America was based on Christian Principles. Religion is flawed, but God is flawless.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  15. mjandrews8

    Someone explain to me how the Jews have been around for 3000 yrs and the muslim faith came about 600 yrs after Christ...and the muslims claim the land in Israel as theirs? I'm Christian so I'm just trying to figure out how muslims feel that's their land...

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

      Same reason you thought it was yous during the crusades. It makes good PR to have control of the "Holy Land".

      March 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  16. charles

    People who take on religion with such intensity are often depressed. Islam is not a religion it's a cult.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  17. Guff

    He was brainwashed as a kid and re-brainwashed later on. He's a weak minded fool.
    Why does CNN show all oft his Muslim love now? Remember 9/11? Now we all have to be PC and love and embrace our "Muslim friends"? BS. Muslims are mindless sheep like all the others.

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

    These "intolerances" that the whole of America supposedly has against all Islamic people is getting to be a tired defense and device to shove this religion down our throat. We've been dealing with this for the last 10 years, I think were over it. In my opinion, the only unrest we have with it is relates to the acts of radicals sects overseas, not in our own country. The fact that CNN and other news platforms wont let it go until we all sing "We are the World", hold hands and dance around in double rainbows is a bit irritating.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  19. Keith

    SUCKER

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

    Have you people at CNN lost your minds? Muslim terrorists are killing tens of thousands of people worldwide every year...they just torched a bunch of houses and christian churches in Ethiopia...and the best you can do is produce shows whining about how a few muslims in the USA feel "unwelcome"? No wonder your ratings are in the tank. Get into the real world!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • mjandrews8

      AMEN BROTHER!!!!!!!!!

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

      jdk you are now an ignorant redneck hater according to the liberal masses. Welcome to the club.

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

      ...and how many people has America killed in Iraq and Afghanistan? I guess they don't count as humans as far as you're concerned. Ethnocentricity is a dangerous thing. You really should try to lose it.

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

      This is truly how most people feel towards Islam but are afraid to speak it. Being politically correct is a thing of the past. Americans must speak their minds before Islam continues to spread and kills more people.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Guff

      Yes, the poor Muslims being soooo mistreated. Give me a break. Go cry somewhere else because I don't want to hear it.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:09 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.