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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. Abel

    I would recommend the movie "The stoning of Soraya M" and see how "tolerant" Islam is towards women.

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

      I would recommend the history of America to see how "tolerant" Christianity is...

      March 25, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  2. Vik

    CNN pushing an Islamic agenda because they paid $$$$ by oil rich Muslims

    March 25, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  3. dawa

    Read Quran and know about islam and watch less fox islam is fasts growing religion in world if u ask why? call number
    1877 why islam or http://www.whyislam/org

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

      No.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  4. dan Kun

    I think CNN should be fair and balance by featuring also Islam converting to Christianity or are Muslims allowed to leave Islam, it is very ironic that CNN is very much uneducated about Islam just like Miller is unaware of what Islam really is and got caught up with his own internal struggle with the lack real of understanding and education about Christianity. This feature report by CNN is about promoting Islam not about tolerance.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  5. Nur Amal Fathirah Anwar

    So great news this is 🙂 Alhamdulillah..

    March 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  6. Diane

    Organized realigion can be a real danger to society. Christian or Muslim, leaders with agendas that have nothing to do with worship can lead the faithful to acts of violence. When one examines the hate being spouted by both, there is no difference in their message. They prey on people who are ignorant, needy or poor to gain followers who do not really know what their holy books say or they forcus on one idea and mindlessly believe it as gospel.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  7. Blake

    Does anyone notice how religeon keeps getting reinterpreted by the people of different generations or cultures to mean this or that. So islam can mean some forever holy war to some or some kind of father of peace to others. And they say you dont understand but if ya read it it clearly says do this or that but people look at it like inkblots or abstract art and try to make it fit their own belief system. They pick and choose what to follow and what to ignore.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  8. Flex

    If putting your head on the ground made Matthew Miller say anything to God, then he could have done it as a Christian as well. Most likely he did not practice Christianity. This is absurd. I lived in a Muslim country fort 27 years, and let me tell you Matthew Miller, you're up to a rude awakening that you're not aware of...guaranteed.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  9. Vik

    CNN supported by muslims that's why the promote them!!!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  10. ObsOfAnEarthCitizen

    @Rich – Atheists feel the need to chime in because religious folk insist on trying to run other's lives. The problem is that many people associate atheists with "evil"... That's so far from the truth. I couldn't have explained it better than the definition of the case of Murray v. Curlett.

    "An atheist loves his fellow man instead of god. An atheist believes that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth for all men together to enjoy.

    An atheist believes that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it, and enjoy it.

    An atheist believes that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment.

    He seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man.

    He wants an ethical way of life. He believes that we cannot rely on a god or channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a hereafter.

    He believes that we are our brother's keepers and are keepers of our own lives; that we are responsible persons and the job is here and the time is now."

    Most of us follow a path of tolerance, unless intolerance is shown first. No tolerance for the intolerant (my personal motto) – that is why most atheists are viewed as hostile, while all we try to do is gain equality. I am in no way excusing the extremists or just down-right rude people, as they found everywhere. I am asking that you open your eyes a bit to see all sides.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  11. MP

    Jesus is the only way to heaven, not Mohamed. Believe it or not is not going to change anything. Look around and see the prophecies that Jesus talked about are now taking place.

    • The sign of false Christs and false religions (Mt 24.5)
    • The sign of wars throughout the world (Mt 24.6-7a)
    • The signs of famine, incurable diseases, and cataclysmic disasters (Mt 24.7b)
    • The sign of increasing persecution of God's people (Mt 24.9)

    March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Nur Amal Fathirah Anwar

      smh... Muhammad isnt a false christ... and we dont see him as a christ... he is a messenger ..

      March 25, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • NotAFan

      This crap has been happening for centuries. Nothing new.

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

      So where does the persecution of others BY Christians? That's happening a LOT here in the US right now.

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

      You are going to be so let down.

      I love it.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  12. bethe123

    The penalty for apostasy in Islam is death. Nice.
    How about the treatment of women in Islam? How about honor killings?
    Fear of terrorism and bombs are not the only reasons to oppose this religion.

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

      The exact same thing that you just said can be said about Christianity. Please don't be so blind.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Qi

      How about hanging young children in the town square in front of their family for doing magic, or burning people alive. Ahhh religion rocks.....

      March 25, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Gibran

      Muslim women were able to own and purchase land, vote, and work why "Christian" America was still raping their African and Irish slaves. Read a book every now and then, it works.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  13. VoaM

    MashaAllah! May Allah guide us all amen.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  14. Rick McDaniel

    Those who really think they are worshiping God, are deluding themselves. Who they are really worshiping, are the men who tell them what to believe, so they can exercise control over them. Nothing more.

    Doesn't matter what religion......the deception is the same.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  15. Rick

    More indoctrination by CNN, which is half owned by a ultra-wealthy SAUDI investor.

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

    I see people so eager to believe they are unwilling victims of an over-encompassing will that supposedly presents them with other-worldly morals that are supposed to 'guide' your tiny life and offer some sort of reward at its end.

    A man that is truly wise follows the righteous path not because he's told, but because he understands the reasons of doing so. Just as a child plays at make-belief, so does a small-minded man when trying to pretend answers exist where only faith does.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  17. Johan de Haan

    From one fairytale to the other.

    Why is this news?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • GI Duck

      Thank You!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  18. LeatherNeck

    One question. What do you know about Islamic beliefs and practices? If your answer is only what you have heard, then you owe it to yourself to conduct some research on your own. Believe this though even if you don't want to believe in God. As time passes, more Muslims will find their way into elected public offices. Eventually, local laws, state laws, and even federal law will become more reflective of Sharia law. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States. Most of the growth is attributed to new members converted to Islam from other religions. Don't be fooled into thinking there is not an agenda on the table here for muslims.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  19. kent

    Is it me or is CNN pushing an Islamic agenda while finding as many stories to show the lack of faith among Christians. Which much of their research is a bit flawed on both ends

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

      One of the biggest CNN investors is a rich Saudi. You can connect the dots.

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

      Actually, it seems to me as though there is an increase in hate crimes against Muslims, and CNN is seeking to tell unique stories to humanize the Muslim world, which has been so dehumanized by our culture. And if you do your research, a rich Saudi is pretty much invested in everything... Including Fox News.

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

      To rich who replied to this Fox news also has a rich Saudi as a investor. If you had a lot of money and saw there was money to be made would you not invest it in CNN as well?

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

      They are pushing muslim agenda for sure.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Saved

      Exactly! Where are the headline stories of all the muslims who have converted to Christanity???????? Nowhere!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  20. Logic

    One of the main beauties and strengths of Christianity lies in the freedom it gives people to choose their religion. It doesn’t threaten you with apostasy laws or death by stoning.. That alone would hold me back from ever considering Islam. It’s like being in a relationship, where your spouse threatens you with death if you ever him/her! Freedom and justice is the source of true love! Love that doesn't seek to increase number and power. Rather, it seeks to improve the quality of your life.

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

      You should really read up on both Christianity and Islam before making that statement.

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

      I totally agree. I sure hate that he chose something that is not in the Bible, but he will have to answer for himself.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • demogal

      I admire your first sentence, then you negate that admiration with your second. Learn more about Islam (and the history of Christianity, for that matter) before you make such sweeping and flawed statements.

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

      I completely agree. To leave a perct union with God through Christ, and to believe in a religion that by its nature is so violent, brings sadness to my heart for this young man.

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

      Didn't he say in this video that he wondered if he was "good enough" to be a Muslim? If so, then here also is the beauty and joy of Christianity... Our merciful Father sees us as His children, and it is by GRACE we are saved, not actions. Yes, actions will be the fruit of our faith and the New Testament goes on and on about good works seen by the Father that are a testimony of God's love and not elevating the do-er of the works.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • GoDestroy

      ROTFLMAO!!!

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

      Yes, we should be understanding and accepting of other religions like Islam......just too bad Islam isn't understanding and accepting of other religious views or cultures! That's the problem with Islam! I'm tired of it being this way. America is our worst enemy. Do you think anyone would ever be able to freely be a Christian and not face persecution in Iran, Iraq, Yemen, etc? Heck no! So we're the Zionist and hypocrites for opening our doors to different cultures! I'm sick of being told we're the bad guys! Take America back!!!!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Newyorker

      Sunni Islam gives you total freedom. It is the only main religion without any clergy. It teaches that it between an individual and God and that no one has the right to judge anyone. It is does not believe in birth right to heaven but that every soul will answer for his or her own deeds and that no one can interceed for anyone. If any one says otherwise they have not read Quran and understood it.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Gibran

      You must of never studied Islam or read the Quran, stop letting the media feed you and read/research for yourself. The early followers of Christ and Muslims were very close.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:28 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.