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. RAOUL


    March 25, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  2. SIxoh

    You non-believers, do you think you're the top? The highest form of life and/or intelligence? You think you just happened to be dust floating around in the galaxy with nothing better to do then one moment...POP! There you were! And so were the planets and flora and fauna and everything from mosquitos to blue whales....POW! Right outta thin air!

    ...that requires at most an I.Q. of 80 to believe.

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

    It's so nice to see intolerance is still alive and well on these boards. Most of you don't understand that while we may use different names for God, we are all worshipping the same being. Yahweh, Allah, Iehova, all translate to the same word. God. Look at the teachings between the religions. The old testament, the Koran, the Torah. All teach the same principles. We are just too blinded by our intolerance, and by the hatred that the people who are on the pulpit teach us, to see the truth.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  4. not surprised

    Wow this guy is just another proof of the end times...The Bible has predicted every event that has taken place in the world...even the one about false prophets...Just read the book of Matthew and Peter...He sure validates alot of points...Gives me chills...

    March 25, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  5. The Truth

    Why all the bickering over which religion is correct? The creator of all things and One True God cares not whether you come to him through Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism as long as you open your heart to him through prayer. Religions tend to take things a step to far and allow themselves to become greater than God when mankind imprints his own system of beliefs into the equation. Faith is all that matters regadless of the path you choose to take.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • wed110197

      This kind of message is disturbing. Christ (God with us) came down from heaven and sacrificed Himself so that I can be saved. Allah didn't do that and neither did any other so called 'god'. Now I wouldn't force anyone to come to the Lord or have an issue with those who choose not to because God gave us the freedom of choice. However, what you are doing is simply creating another false message.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  6. LP

    Stupid before & stupid after. Call him God, call him Allah, call him Buddha, call him whatever you wont....he ain't real...wake up!

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

      Buddha wasn't real? O_o

      March 25, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Burger King

      Ain't ain't real either. Wake up!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  7. dano

    All religion is a cancer on humanity.

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

      All religions harbor pride, arrogance, selfishness, bigotry, etc. Still, when the person selects the good of any religion and leaves out the bad; it can be a way out from loneliness. Selectionists choose what they want to find. I found Christianity for I needed a meaningful existence. Without God, I found only emptiness. I don't know how people like yourself can live without believing in a higher power, but I don't believe that your life is that much more fullfilled than mine. Believe what you want. In the end, only the dead will find the truth and if there is a God, good for them. If not, its lights out.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  8. Alec

    More liberal rhetoric from our friends at CNN. If this guy tries to convert back then he'll see how peaceful it is.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  9. justice3688

    "i am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father accept through me." john 14:6 (Jesus spoke this, not Mohammed)

    March 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Nationof786

      For all those who attack Islam and call it a violent religion, then it is clear that you guys are no less than the terrorists. Uneducated, illiterate, and narrow minded. Why? Because if you guys did even a little research on Islam, then you would find that Islam delivers peace not violence. At least, for mankind's sake and peace, go do extensive research on Islam. One will find that the truth of Islam is far from what the media portrays or what the terrorists display.


      March 25, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Nationof786

      @justice3688: OH AND BTW, I highly suggest you reading the old testament of the Bible and "quoting" the words from there. Not the new testaments which are "man" made. The old testament speaks the words of GOD just like the Quran.

      Enjoy it buddy 🙂

      March 25, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  10. JJ

    LOGIC: Thought I am a Christian myself, I completely disagree with your statement. I also do believe in a person's ability to choose their religion for themselves...I do not, however, feel that that is a Christian belief..that is an American belief. NO religion offers up the ability to choose ones god. Islam may not be a faith of choice for me, but they do offer many truths that could help this world if people lived by the word. The same is true of Christianity.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  11. Toronto Guy

    from one set of irrational, illogical and misguided beliefs to another.

    I see no difference between blind chrisitian beliefs and islamic ones. They are both like fast food. Filling without any substance or value.

    rejecting religion is personal and passive. denouncing is engaged and active. get involved.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Burger King

      Your post is like fast food.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  12. Internetstrollinisseriousbusiness

    Islam: Religion of Pieces. Praise be to Allah.

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

      Brainwashing at it's finest right here. No violence, no terrorism, no hatred, none of that comes from islam right?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  13. Yousef

    Life goes by fast... I gotta go to work in a few minutes. It is GOING by reeeally fast. My loved ones, the wonderful moments are seem all to be like this fleeting haze...Makes you wonder what really matters and where are we going.

    "Whoever wants, believe, and whoever wants, disbelief..." That's straight from the Quran, the Cave chapter.

    Peace everyone.
    and thank you CNN.


    March 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  14. Everyman

    America was founded on freedom from religious prosecution. Please honor your country's roots by allowing people their right to worship their own way.

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

      Just because our ancestors believed in some non-sensical invisible man in the sky doesn't obligate me to do the same. Much less have respect for anyone else who believes in these fairy tales in our modern age. I believe in freedom FROM religion.

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

      I come from a background quite similar to Mr. Miller mentioned in this piece. Like him, I am also 30, caucasian, and a convert to Islam. I just wanted to say thank you for posting a reasonable response, unlike the vitriol similar topics seem to elicit.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • muleskinner527

      wilson, your an idiot...read the original post...freedom to worship (or not if thats what you choose) without persicution. moron

      March 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • SIxoh

      Muleskinner – Wilson IS an idiot, and said as much when he admitted not respecting anyone else's beliefs. That puts people like that squarely on my excrement list.
      Like atheists or other religins that don't want faith "rammed down their throat", I respect that, and expect the same from people not cramming thier non-belief down my throat.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  15. Toronto Guy

    from one set of irrational, illogical and misguided beliefs to another.

    I see no difference between blind chrisitian beliefs and islamic ones. Like reality TV, they are both like fast food. Filling without any substance or value.

    rejecting religion is personal and passive. denouncing is engaged and active. get involved.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  16. ronjon

    If you watched that movie and then converted – you are a moron.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  17. OMAR

    I LEFT ISLAM and this guy convert to islam,they don t know the the truth face bcause islamic culture is totaly different from quran and sunna.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  18. Thiswont GetPosted

    Its interesting how this is front and center on CNN.com and yet there is not one mention ANYWHERE on the front page (or possibly anywhere else on this site) of the attack on Christians in Ethiopa by Muslims. Agenda much?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • joe


      March 25, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  19. Mark from Louisiana

    Why is Eric Holder and the Justice Dept. accusing a school board of discrimination because they fired a teacher who had been employed for only nine months and she took three weeks unauthorized leave to visit mecca?
    Would Holder be there if a catholic employee wanted three weeks off to visit the Vatican? I bet not.
    Why hasn't the mainstreet media reported on this? Scared to make the muslims mad?

    Safoorah Khan had taught middle school math for only nine months in this tiny Chicago suburb when she made an unusual request. She wanted three weeks off for a pilgrimage to Mecca.

    The school district, faced with losing its only math lab instructor during the critical end-of-semester marking period, said no. Khan, a devout Muslim, resigned and made the trip anyway.

    Justice Department lawyers examined the same set of facts and reached a different conclusion: that the school district’s decision amounted to outright discrimination against Khan. They filed an unusual lawsuit, accusing the district of violating her civil rights by forcing her to choose between her job and her faith.

    As the case moves forward in federal court in Chicago, it has triggered debate over whether the Justice Department was following a purely legal path or whether suing on Khan’s behalf was part of a broader Obama administration campaign to reach out to Muslims.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • zooompilot

      What an ignorant post. Visiting Mecca is a requirement of Islam if one is financially and physically able to do so. Visiting the Vatican is only a requirement for tourists. If the teacher had asked for 3 weeks off for a trip to Disney World that would be one thing. The fact that he requested the time to fulfill an obligation of his religion is another.

      Jews need to be in Synagogue by sundown on Friday...so what if I need a Jewish employee to work overtime on Friday night but he refuses but the Christian employees are willing?

      Go read a book before posting nonsense.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  20. Random Internet Person #1324135

    No offense, but.. what is the point of this article? Some dude randomly decides to change religion and that's considered newsworthy? Religion shouldn't be in the news unless it actually has something to be worth being within.. there's a reason why countries with seperation of church and state are further along the development ladder then those who aren't.. this just seems like an 'ad' for Islam, and I don't really care for promotion of ANY religion. Leave that to those whom are actually out in the real world and can ask questions themselves..

    March 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • @RIP#1324135

      Totally agree with you, what's the point here. It's like saying my dog likes gravy.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • muleskinner527

      I agree this is not newsworthy....and it would never have been a news story if it had been a muslim converting to christianity either....sick of this crap

      March 25, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Random Internet Person #1324136

      Hey..Random Internet Person #1324135...Amen brother!...oh..wait..that sounded kind of religious... uh...I agree!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Just me

      JMO, but I think, this article is just an advertisement for the show that will be on CNN this Sunday. Not something that was "meant" to be newsworthy.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:25 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.