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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. DrMabuse

    Leaving one delusion for another. Move along, nothing to see here.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • s.e.l

      amen

      March 25, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  2. Orly

    "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."

    Could The Dude please abide and explain the physical characteristics of a 'nutjob'? I'd like to know so I can immediately start judging everyone based on appearances.

    A lot of ins and outs.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  3. rossa

    i guess an informed conversion is fine with me as far as he really converts to god in heart not for worldly or political gains , most if not all converters to islam are from the odd variety like mike tyson and the like but extremely rare to find atrue convert to a religion of no peace like islam

    March 25, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  4. Rwraith

    I thought it would be just three words. Convert or die. At least that is the central tenant according to the Koran.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  5. GANJgal

    Shame on you CNN for article. Why don't you, as media, spend more time writing articles on how supportive our troops are in defending our country.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  6. K

    Holy brainwashing!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  7. Me

    Man has always been seeking the truth whether a god exist or not as evidenced by a longer (longer than Judiasm/Christianity/Muslim) history of various religions (plenty of proof from Australia to North America). Why didn't God or Allah reach out and expose the "truths" from the Koran or Bible then?
    Also, if God is all love and all knowing, then he knew up front that ultimately greater than 90% of his creation would be doomed to hell just because he wanted something to love him of their own free will – failed plan/selfish?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  8. Logic

    CNN did very little reporting on the Christians that were killed in Egypt last month just for protesting their misrable conditions.. And it almost never mentions anything about Saudia Arabia and it's banning of any display of Christianity or building any other religious temple, yet stories like this are headlines........................ I'll try my best to not read CNN anymore!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  9. Art

    Odd that this guy didn't examine Buhddism in the same manner. Seems odd that CNN wouldn't pick up a story on someone who was "christian" switching to Wicca! Odd that they push to normalize Islam in our face. For that matter, picking christianity as a religion to demonstrate the "from and to" is fairly biased, as it is. As many "rednecks" seem to have commented, religion is believed by many to have been a method to control the masses, control people of a society via passification. The same happened to the Vikings a few centuries ago... Odd how many in the North were converted by a "christian" "saint": Saint Olaf was his name. His method of conversion involved a proposal to convert.... or get beheaded! Now that is really "christian". I would prefer to stick to my ancient pagan gods. Thank you.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  10. korkis

    ISALAM YEH OH YEH JUST LIKE WE NEED SUCH VERY STUPID STORY ABOUT ISLAM..WAKE UP USA AND LOOK AT MOSLIM PPL.IF THEY KILL ME AS CHRISTAN OR THEY KILL JEWS THEY GO TO PARADISE...!!!!! THATS WHAT ISLAM ABOUT...JUST KIILLING AND DESTROYING THE WORLD !!!!! SO THIS IDOIT HE GET PAY FOR IT...AND THE HELL WITH HIM AND ANY ONE BE COME LIKE HIM....

    March 25, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  11. Peter

    People are not "Raised a Christian". Christianity is a decision. You can be raised in a Christian household, etc...

    March 25, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  12. fundies

    I am a fundamentalist of the movement of those affiliated with the unaffiliated group. we do not have the braids of orthodox jews. we do tend to have odd ear hair. i have one that grows straight from the top of my ear.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  13. Jim

    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Quran/023-violence.htm

    Peace be upon you unless you disagree with me.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  14. The Boss

    There is no such thing as being "raised a Christian". You are a believer in Christ by voluntary choice. Miller was never a Christian. He may have been brought up in a Christian home but that doesn't make you a Christian.

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

      Wrong. Believing in anything is not a "voluntary choice". I was brought up in a Catholic household. As a child I attended CCD and read all the Bible stories they put in front of us. Yet even as a 5-year-old I didn't "click" with those stories any more than I clicked with The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast. I thought they were nothing more than fairy tales then when I was still young enough to believe in fairy tales. Now I'm old enough and wise enough to realize that Bible stories are more fables or allegories than fairy tales, but I still can't make myself "choose" to believe in God. I'm not made that way. If I was, my 5-year-old self would have recognized it and I'd be a 30-year-old practicing Catholic now. So no, you can't CHOOSE to believe certain things. You can only make your own sense out of the information presented to you.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • colleen

      Had to add: your last sentence DOES make sense. My issue was with the fact that you think people can choose what they believe.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  15. jesse

    i think all religion should be outlawed because it is fake and makes people nuts. i thought that humans would have gotten rid of religion altogether by now but i guess our brains haven't all grown to the correct size yet.

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

      Seriously? Religion has nothing to intelligence. It just means your closed minded and can't think outside of yourself.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  16. Allahn

    I bet you never see a "reverse" story in the media – "Disalusioned Muslim Finds Truth in Christianity". Not only would the press never publish it, but the "convert" may fear for his life (as an "infidel") from this peace loving religion.

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

    I live in Murfreesboro and just because a few rednecks, most of whom are not even from Murfreesboro, try to stop a mosque from being built does NOT MEAN WE ALL HATE MUSLIMS!!!! I am sick and tired of the national media portraying Murfreesboro as a "small rural town" outside of Nashville when Murfreesboro clearly has over 100,000 residents with Rutherford County having over 200,000 residents. The people that have been shown protesting the mosque are ether not from Middle Tennessee or are a minuscule minority of Murfreesboro residents. Murfreesboro is a great place to live and it's a shame that the media is portraying the entire community in such a negative light.

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

      Hi Garrett,
      I appreciate your comment. You are left in a difficult situation. The louder the crowd, the more attention they receive (see Westboro Baptist). You are likely like the vast majority of your fellow residents: a good person who minds his own business. Unfortunately, the time and place has called you to a challenge. When someone spews dark intolerance and ignorance, you will have to respond tenfold with truth and love. I think your Muslim residents would clearly fall under Matthew 25:45. And even if you're not of a Christian background yourself, the quotation still has merit. We should be judged by how we treat our most vulnerable citizens. So let the media crow, and know at least somebody out there has heard you.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • URNUTS

      @Dylan – That was perfect! if we all could battle that hate with tenfold love many intolerances and judgements could be cured.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  18. dre

    He is lucky he was a christian in the US where you can change your religion. If he was in a Muslim country or
    even a Muslim in the US, his life will be at risk and he will be an apostate

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

      Thus the reason our Country is so great! We have freedom of Religion and freedom to believe as our hearts tell us too. I am a Christian and I believe there is One God, One Christ, One Sprit, One Faith and One Church – however, It is my right to believe as I feel free to do just as anyone in this great country of ours. I do not hold grude against any other religion, however any violence against any other human being because of their faith is DEAD WRONG! It is inhumane and irresponsible to teach judgement, hate or violence in any form. To teach that those who do not beleive as you personally do should be killed and classified as infidel is in no way of any God. So to say any messenger of God orders you from God to kill all those who do not believe in Islam is an outright lie and not of God in any way, shape form or manner. Yes there is a time for war and a time for peace so war is necessary, however by faith all things are added to us, not taken from us!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  19. john

    apparently he has not read the koran line by line where is he COMMANDED to kill anyone who does
    not BOW their knee to islam and mohammed if they do not convert to islam and worship mohammed.

    check out the following regarding how tolerant islam is in other countries!

    ***********
    One of those areas is Besheno where, on November 9, all the Christians in the city woke up to find notes on their doors warning them to convert to Islam, leave the city or face death, a Christian from Besheno told reporter on condition of anonymity.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Zuhaib Jahangir

      there is no verse in Quran asking any other Muslim to forcefully convert any other person to Islam.

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

      There is also an equally disturbing amount of Godly commands to kill people in the Holy Bible.

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

      The so-called "sword verses" are a very small part of the Quran, almost always taken out of context, and pale in comparison to passages from both the Old and New Testaments about use of force.

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

      John, read more! become a better person! Stop saying dishonest things. God told every Muslim to respect people of the Book. That is the Bible and the Torah. He said treat them like brothers and sisters because I know what is in their hear, and you do not know. So maybe I will guide them to Islam, but my message to you, be kind to them, protect them, protect their homes, protect their churches, their temples, and be kind to them. This is ISLAM!

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

      the bible says the SAME THING about non believers,

      ""If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you ... Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die." - Dt.13:6-10"

      does that mean that all Christians have to start going around killing everyone who doesnt believe... if we follow your logic then the christian faith is just as bad... or could it just be possible that there are muslims who dont believe in the killing parts of the Koran, just like there are Christians who dont believe in the parts of the bible who think you should kill non believers, The KKK considers its values to be Christian, and yet they have been known to kill people because of the color of their skin...

      March 25, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  20. zahoor shah

    Congratulation Brother – May Allah make things easier for you. The straight path is always difficult. But Keep it up and let us know if you need any help. Now a days the priests and bishops also reverting back to Islam. Congratulations.

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

      Bwahahaha!! So, one invisible man is better than the other. You can take your false prophet and stick it.

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

      He has damned himself to Hell for eternity over a lie.

      He made a life-altering decision about a religion he knows nothing about. Ridiculous in a country where he can freely read both the Holy Bible and the Quran, hold them up side by side and see just how devoid of truth Islam is. Wow!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:13 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.