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. Sam


    Wow, you picked a great religion, pal...one that really respects women.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  2. DDo

    yeah...there is only one oprah winfrey, there is only one micheal stipe,and there is only one god. just b/c you call god by a different name doesn't mean he is all the same. your are in error. truth is absolute. god is absolute. he is either one or the other. we all can't be right. one of us is wrong. god is real. my next question, who is more believable, mohammed or jesus? the choice is up to you. if you ask me, this young man did too many drugs and had his head drug on the botom of the ocean one too many times after a wipeout. peace - better yet, shalom.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  3. margret raines

    I like what Robert Burns had to say about things:

    The fear o' Hell's a hangman's whip
    To haud the wretch in order;
    But where ye feel your honour grip,
    Let that ay be your border:
    Its slightest touches, instant pause -
    Debar a' side-pretences;
    And resolutely keep its laws,
    Uncaring consequences

    March 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  4. Beam

    Well I do know about the Islamic faith..and as all religious beliefs...with the exception of Christianity..you have to 'earn' your salvation. Work your way to Heaven..or a higher spiritual plane, or whatever. Which usually requires attending that church, temple, mosques, etc...praying their way in the way they decide is right, and doing many other things..then you 'might' earn your salvation if you are lucky. Islam is very legalistic as are many others...something strongly discouraged in the Christian bible because no one can earn their salvation. Its a free gift!

    Ephesians 2
    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

    I really hope this guy does some serious research in comparing Islamic beliefs with Christianity. CARM website is a good place to start. 'Answering Islam' is another great site. Going by 'if it feels good or right' is not a good way of making a major decision like this..not at all. Feelings change everyday ...do we change our belief system everyday? I would hope not.

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

      btw how many Christian terrorist groups do you hear about in the news? I realize many millions of Muslims are peaceful and moderate Muslims...but it sure would be nice to hear from them more rallying against these extremist. Also do a search on sharia laws in the UK...then you wonder why we worry.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  5. Joe

    None of this matters, because all religions are man-made.
    If religion came from God, every person on the planet would be the same religion.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  6. promixcuous

    Oh God, not more Islamic proselytizing on CNN! I know CNN has major investors in the middle east, but the amount of "I converted to Islam" articles is really disturbing.

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

    Gotta love these comments from all the "True Unbelievers." They remind me of the Puritans in Salem just before they decided it was time to burn all the witches.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  8. shyam

    hahaha can i say Hinduism is great?? u guys are fighting like dogs on Christianity and Muslim..everything is same dog, just the religion over our head..dang this world and stupid people...every god tells u to love everyone ass*&^%s, Jesus, Allah, Shiva , its your heart to worship and pray...stupidssss

    March 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  9. andy

    you can believe anything you want but the questions is – did Mohamed die on the cross for you and took all of your sins away? why would i believe in someone who doesnt care about me. Only jesus cared enough to come down, die and reconnect us with God.

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

      amen and amen.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  10. phxation

    Can we get some front page stories about people with faith who later reject it to become Atheists?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  11. AJ

    You need not be religious to understand GOD, you need to be spiritual. Religion as such is man made but GOD is way beyond all this. One can go to church everyday and yet go to Hell and one may not have stepped into a church and still go to heaven. The equation is very simple. Love your neighbor as HE loves you. Not as your frined or dad or mom loves you but as HE loves you. I you could find the answer on how much HE loves you then you got it right.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  12. Iconemi

    i got bored of reading this story that after the first sentence ... to much crap about religion.... about who's god is better and so on !!! ... they claim that Allah is better.... Frankly, i have yet to a see a picture of this so called Allah....for all i know he's a pimp... that's why the least i know about them, the better it is !!!!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Another one bites the dust

      Why do Athiests read the Belief Blog? Maybe they are searching for something. Hmmmm

      March 25, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Sean

      Well, this atheist reads the belief blog out of morbid curiosity – it's like when you drive past a nasty RTA and find it hard to look away.

      In all seriousness, though, the more I see of this "my god's d!ck is bigger than your god's d!ck" cr@p, the more horrifying it becomes, because it really is defining the lives, trials, wars and misery of millions of people, especially women, gay people and people of the 'other' religious persuasion the world over.

      Anybody who tells me I will burn forever for not accepting their particular brand of manipulative and coercive man-made theism can go and f_ck themselves. And Pascal's wager is a crock.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  13. Dave Etzold

    Here's the real problem, his mother nails it "... if it makes you happy and it’s what you feel is the right way..." The Western world especially, and much of the rest of the population on this planet, is increasingly inclined to follow their "feelings" about all sorts of life decisions. There's a problem with feelings, they change! A religion with merit should not change. That's why Protestantism in the Christian context is suffering criticism over its changing ways...as the latest schism in North America between the Anglican church and the Episcopal church is illustrating. This young man "feels" his way into something that should be intelectually and spiritually investigated. Maybe he's right, but the path he's treading is unstable.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  14. nitrous

    The joke's on him – there is no "God".

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Another one bites the dust

      You'd better be right because if you are not the concequenses are eternal! (By the way, you are not!)

      March 25, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  15. WMSaintPaul

    Know you history and what is expected of you kid.
    Example, there is a new story out about Muslims burning out their neighbors in Ethiopia. Fifty churches burned, and three thousand neighbors, Christians, have been forced from their homes. Are you sure you want to be part of that, kid.
    It is expected of you. I am waiting for CNN to cover this current story.
    Fox has it up now. I wonder how long until CNN runs it.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Scott from NH

      Maybe he didn't want to be part of a Christian nation killing 1 million people in Iraq?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  16. Aaron

    Christian or Muslim? Yankees or Red Sox? Democrat or Republican? All are nothing more than man made, artificial distinctions that serve to divide us and distract us from much more important realities. If there is a God – it bet it likes the idea that we can stop being so arrogant, self centered, and divisive. Our common struggles are more worthy of attention and more difficult to face . . . . which makes choosing a team to root for and a team to hate so appealing. Imagine all the People . . . living life in Peace.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  17. LifeOrDeath

    I just want to say this: any religion should NEVER be used as an excuse to cover up the terrorism. If you look at all religions around the world, no other religion like Islam encourages violence, killing and terrorism. It is just a FACT! I myself is an atheist and I can say this with no favor of any religion group and only out of my pure observation.

    I feel very sad seeing this Muslim movements coming in US. They are taking over this country now and soon US would be another UK or France. "911" is just a start. If we allow this to happen all over the country, forget stupid "religion freedom" which has been taken advantage and abused for so long, we are digging a tomb for all of us who love this country and REAL freedom.

    Another side note is that: the worst enemy is not the one who fights in the battlefield, but the one who comes and lives close to you. They grow their population and also their influence. One day, they will take the power and do the ultimate damage. Unfortunately, our media ignores to see the huge impact ahead of all of us. We are over flooding out love and empothy to our enemy! How ironic and ridiculous.

    Highly suggest US Gov. to get some training from Chinese Gov. as to how to control Muslim and any other threats to national security.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Scott from NH

      Your thoughts and beliefs are what would be expected from someone who stays inside the US and doesn't have Muslim friends. I'm an American Jew who has been to Indonesia 6 times and met some of the kindest and most gentle people in my life. But watching 8 years of the Iraq war on TV has changed the minds of the people there from believing America was the best to believing we are the world's terrorists. At a school I visited one of the teachers said "When we heard an American was coming we were worried you would yell at the children to make them cry, or try to harm them, but you are really nice, we are all surprised." So in Asia you turn on the TV and hear about government troops in Myanmar raping Muslim women to punish them for being Muslim. Your view that Muslims create all the terror is a one sided view that comes from watching American news, the same news that has never shown a photo of a mangled Iraqi child on the cover of a newspaper or a story on television.

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

    search your heart, search your sole, you will fined Islam and then search no more.

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

      I've searched my sole repeatedly but have found nothing but gum and sometime a terrible dog type smell. Is that Islam?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Another one bites the dust

      Mohammed was actually dyslexic and crosseyed and intended to lead people away from Allah, but by the time he realized it it was already too late.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  19. Chris tian

    how much did some Islamic society pay CNN to make this 'news' about someone changing religion the top news story in America today?

    CNN seems to be 'making' the news now.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Another one bites the dust

      No doubt. How, why, is this news? CNN, I will start sending you pictures and video of new converts at my Christian church each week and if you refuse to air them it just shows your bias. This just goes to show once again the agenda of the liberal media. I do pray for this poor mans soul, lost for eternity. and the response of his mother, who is supposed to be Christian, was very sadening.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  20. Justify4poor

    “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.”

    “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.’”

    For both of the mother and son, they are their own god; they almost know nothing about God. Muslim or Christian is just a convenient name for them; then, really, whatever doesn't matter in anyway.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 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.