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. Socks

    This is "news" ? More like "the onion" ? I can not gleam even one thing from this article. Shame on you, Elizabeth Nunez! If you're interested in writing a story about me perhaps, here's something you'd find worthy: Man woke up today and had a bowl of cheerios – with white milk and brown sugar. Maybe you could put an interracial spin on it?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • alawson

      It's not meant to be "news." It's a plug for the show "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door." It's just a commercial.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  2. DD

    Freedom of choice.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  3. @ dmf

    dmf ... I am a christian woman married to a Muslim. I can honestly tell you that what you have stated is simply a stereotype. Please, stop caving in to the media. Not ALL Muslims are the same, just like not ALL Christians are like those who are picketing funerals. There are different areas in the Middle East ... for instance, Jordan, Egypt, and Dubai. None of these countries are like Iran or Saudi Arabia. I happen to be treated very well and find this type of ignorance utterly offensive.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  4. mike

    OMAR...you are so right. the Quran and Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are yet to be followed by the majority of the Arabs so peace can be restored in the world and maybe you will see much more converts to Islam if that happens. I am also a convert and not because of the people I met (some of them are great people but some among them forgot about the good manners Islam teaches)...Anyhow, you left because it was a choice you made and I have no doubt that because you didn't realize that a true Muslim is just a better Christian. We belive in the same values the Christians believe in and the only difference between them and us is that we consider Jesus (PBUH) as one of the greatest teachers but we don't worship him and worship the father alone ( we call the father , the creator of all , God , the one described in the verse below) .

    In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
    God! There is no God but He,
    the Living, the Self-subsisting, the Eternal.
    No slumber can seize Him, nor sleep.
    All things in heaven and earth are His.
    Who could intercede in His presence without His permission?
    He knows what appears in front of and behind His creatures.
    Nor can they encompass any knowledge of Him except what he wills.
    His throne extends over the heavens and the earth,
    and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them,
    for He is the Highest and Most Exalted.

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

    Now we know what Miller really thinks of women.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  6. Sean

    Matthew 26:17-18, 26-28 NIV84

    On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

    He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ” While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

    Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  7. Dan

    I love how in america we are feaking out to make sure we cater to the muslims and belittle ourselves to lift them up. And yet these same idiots teach coexistance and femimism and then turn around and embrace a faith thats holy book teaches that women are second rate and that the infidel should die. They resist all modern progress and war with everyone. Then we badmouth christianity for being closed minded when Jesus taught to love your neighbor and not pass judgement and mohammed said spread my word by sword and fire. Definition of a liberal- tolerant of all opinions unless they clash with yours then belittle them mercilessly

    March 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  8. john

    FBI! Keep an eye on this freak!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  9. PAPilot

    This guy will be killing Americans in no time.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  10. 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.

    This is unique to Islam...it cannot be said of other religions.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |


    March 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  12. Jason

    Time for some high velocity lead therapy. I suspect that this guy was not a Christian. Don't know if his parrents are either. The fact that his mother wasn't horrified that her son is now going to hell is a big clue that she and he were never Christians.

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

      Correct. That is why I never thought George Carlin's religious bits were very funny, in fact they showed ignorance on his part.

      He joked that people were killing other people for answering these questions wrong:
      "Do you believe in God?"
      "Yes?" "Good."
      "Do you believe in my God?"
      "No?" "You're dead".

      There is only one God. There are multiple prophets.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Chris R

      Based on what you said I'm thinking you aren't a Christian either. Do yourself a favor, pick up a Bible and read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Read the words of Christ and tell me where, in there, your words find their justification. Leading a Christlike life doesn't allow for the expression of violence.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Chumlee

      Chris R, I'm guessing you haven't heard of some little altercations called The Crusades.

      How about the Spanish Enquisition?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Chumlee

      Sorry Jason, my post was supposed to be to Sam, above you.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  13. Sam

    In Islam Mohammad is not the only messenger from God but he is the last one, they are 3 important messengers from God Moses Jesus and Mohammad ,important Verses in Koran that said if you don,t believe on Judaism and Christianity you can not be a Muslim.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  14. carter

    a hippie found some new transient meaning in his life? my god, call the papers!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  15. Clarity

    Thank God I'm an atheist! ;-P

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

      I am an athiest, because god made me this way.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  16. Dr Kat

    Sadly young boys growing up without a father spend their lives unconsciously trying to repair that gaping hole in their heart. Islam is a dominant male religion and this would be a fit for this young man seeking to surround himself with male energy and connection to help heal his childhood trauma . He does not appear to be aware of this and so most likely may go through life unaware of what in his heart he is really seeking.

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

      Where in the article does it say that his father was not around?? I must of missed that part. Oh, were you assuming because he cited a conversation with his mother, that his dad must have never been around? What a looney you are.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  17. Alex

    With all the religions that exist in the world and people leaving and converting back and forth–its amazing that people think there is any truth to any of them. They are more like clubs. People wake up early, go to a house of worship, participate in a pointless ritual involving singing, praying, and worst of all–speculating on how texts written in ancient times have relevance to modern life. It gives me a headache just thinking about it. This guy should not be Christian or Muslim–but just treat people with dignity and respect and go back to surfing. Whatever may lie in the hereafter is a complete mystery until we all get there.

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

      Amen. I mean well said.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  18. john

    Typical ugly person that thinks is loneliness can be fulfilled by islamic bull!......you are weak of mind and soul!!

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

    Saving many in less than 100 words: (Priceless)

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims to included Mr. Miller:
    There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians :
    There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity

    Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    Added details upon request.

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

    listen to this

    March 25, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Really old bad guy

      Fruit at the bottom...

      March 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
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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.