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. Hussain

    Islam, like fascism, appeals to people with low self esteem and low intelligence. Both these ideologies are irrational. They disdain reason, and hail devotion and submission to a higher authority. Like fascists, Muslims are triumphalists. They seek power, domination and control. They pride themselves in their strength of number, in their mindless heroism, in their disdain for life and in their willingness to kill and die for their cause.
    Islam is political and political Islam is fascism.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  2. Yet another one...

    Matthew was never a true Christian. Silly CNN...

    What amazes me about everyone on this board is that you all have never got to the root of the reason why you choose to reject the claims that the Bible says about the nature of man and his natural condition.

    Self-deception is such a ghastly veil that covers the eyes...

    March 25, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  3. cgreen64

    He wasn't a Christian to begin with. He may have thought he was practicing the Christian faith... but he ain't going heaven.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  4. hector

    is this news? homeboy needs a haircut.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  5. chief

    this pinhead reminds me of jack blacks acting in nachoooo libre.... this may be a jack black stunt for a new movie

    allaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah akbar

    March 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  6. Skeptisch

    Why is the fact that a California born meth addict converted to Islam news?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  7. billy stokes

    He won't be able to Jihad today, there's a big company golf outing and he has to work.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  8. ???

    So this is how most websites like this work. They don't actually place stories on the front page. They just place stories into appropriate categories (world news, religion, politics, ect...). Stories appear on the front page based on how many people open the article to look at it. So this article is in the most prominent position on their front page because of an equation that shows it has the greatest increase of people opening compared to any other article. This equation is designed to maximize advertising revenue, which is what CNN and any other website like this cares most about. It is not a conspiracy or bias. You are part of the reason it is in that position.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • JG

      Stop talking in fact and truth. You'll only get yourself trolled harder.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  9. Paul

    and this story is front page on CNN why ?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  10. Jones

    This dude has a small mind and nothing to life for.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  11. 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.

    If you don't want to be a Muslim anymore, then the penalty is death. Death for changing your mind. Cool. Where do I sign up?
    That is not true of Judaism, Christianity, or any other religion.
    Hmmm. Any comments CNN?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • parkmore

      You are completely wrong. Go read read read and you have to make the effort to understand, them come and discuss

      March 25, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • darp0

      You're hilariously incorrect.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  12. Hussain

    All the major religions have had violent and fanatical pasts other than Buddhism, they have gone through violent change, but what distinguishes other worldly religions, is, that on the most part, and they came to the conclusion that fundamental civil and human rights need to trump what is stated in he so called ‘holy books.’ While every practicing Muslim that I have met believes they must adhere to literally everything in the Koran, even when it justifies violence. From my own experience I feel this state of mind really applies to every practicing Muslim.
    While a majority of the world is evolving with their religious beliefs, Islam on a whole seems to be de-evolving back to the dark ages.

    Here are some verses of the Qur'an which promote intolerance towards non Muslims. If non Muslims were a 'race' these verses would be racist, that said I still wonder how the law allows such things to be taught in schools.

    3:28 Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah. except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.
    4:139 Yea, to those who take for friends unbelievers rather than believers: is it honour they seek among them? Nay,- all honour is with Allah.
    4:144 O ye who believe! Take not for friends unbelievers rather than believers: Do ye wish to offer Allah an open proof against yourselves?
    4:51 They are in truth (equally) unbelievers; and we have prepared for unbelievers a humiliating punishment.
    5:51 O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.
    5:80 Thou seest many of them turning in friendship to the unbelievers. Evil indeed are (the works) which their souls have sent forward before them (with the result), that Allah’s wrath is on them, and in torment will they abide.
    8:12 Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.“
    8:73 The unbelievers are protectors, one of another: Unless ye do this, (protect each other), there would be tumult and oppression on earth, and great mischief.
    9:123 O ye who believe! fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.
    9:5 But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful
    66:9 O Prophet! Strive hard against the unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed).

    March 25, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Luc

      Correct – someone tell Matthew to read the book that he just fell for.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • darp0

      Comparing Islam to Christianity is like comparing a Macintosh apple to a Fuji apple. They are a bit different, sure, but essentially they are the same thing. You people and your arguments are just foolish.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Chris R

      [7:159] Among the followers of Moses there are those who guide in accordance with the truth, and the truth renders them righteous.

      [5:46] Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous.

      [5:47] The people of the Gospel shall rule in accordance with GOD's revelations therein. Those who do not rule in accordance with GOD's revelations are the wicked.

      [2:62 & 5:69] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

      [3:113-114]. They are not all the same; among the followers of the scripture, there are those who are righteous. They recite GOD's revelations through the night, and they fall prostrate.

      They believe in GOD and the Last Day, they advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and they hasten to do righteous works. These are the righteous.

      [3:199] Surely, some followers of the previous scriptures do believe in GOD, and in what was revealed to you, and in what was revealed to them. They reverence GOD, and they never trade away GOD's revelations for a cheap price. These will receive their recompense from their Lord. GOD is the most efficient in reckoning.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  13. dr.jackil

    this dushbag watches a movie and changes religion , I think his problem is deep sitted, he does't like himself. And this making Cnn headline, great!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  14. Luc

    Going from one cult to another is not news, its being conned the second time.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  15. asdfghjklty

    I love AdBlock. Got tired of seeing this sheep's face.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  16. Linton Dawson

    QUOTE from Kael:

    Jesus: Love one another as you love yourself. All are considered equal.

    Islam: Torture and kill anyone who does not agree with our only point of view. Woman is an animal to all man.


    Christianity: If you're not like us – God hates you. Our God is a vengeful, hate-filled God who won't accept anyone if they do not adhere to what WE say.

    And how interesting that Kael professes that Jesus taeaches love – then spews hatred! He obviously does not belive in the teachings of Christ. Remember, Kael – ALL are equal. I guess you don't really have to follow the teachings of Christ – just spew quotes when they fit your agenda at any given moement.

    Finally, more people on this planet have been killed by Christians, than any other religion.

    The facts are tough to swallow – maybe you can wash them down with some Communion wine?

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

      Thank you for the Clarification my child. My followers are just a bit too st-st-st-stupid.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Dwayne

      Awesome! Nice post man ...

      I'm not a Christian or a Muslim, I'm sort of a "prove it to me" person. I can't stand when someone "prays" (begs) for stuff from an unseen God. I mean, you think God is listening to your petty wants for a new car, or more money when there are millions of more deserving people in the world than you? Doubtful. Mostly what Christianity has become is a crutch for people to pray for stuff they don't deserve or need, and that some unseen being will save them from their own brainwashed messed up minds.

      The more converts we have, the better IMHO; the more people asking why, the better. If religion is helping someone be more unselfish, then I'm all for it, but when all it does is teach us to be greedy, then you can shove it.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  17. SLGRDG

    By his looks it seems to me Deliverance would have changed his life more!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Christopher P. Vaughan

      that is funny... but also may be accurate

      March 25, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  18. Minute Man

    well, well, well, how long will it take for this guy to go to training camp and start his own jeeeehaaaaad! everyone watch and see, in less than 3years, there will bee another headline that reads "New American Muslum Convert Killed placing IED in Afganistan." and the bad part is that CNN puts this garbage on the front page. Here is a little secret america, you all better arm yourselfs and get ready, I do not believe that America will return to her better self, there are to many people that want to watch her burn, and most of them are from within. Now once these people get what they want, then what..if we ever go to sharia law, a theif will loose his hand, no question, an adulterer will loose his head, and a non-believer will loose their head, and no court or ACLU will be able to stop it. So keep it up! there is no freedom in muslum world, and also, if all of you peeps want socialism then get ready to have every dime you make almost go to the government, there will be NO wealthy people, or a chance to get wealthy. The only thing all of you will have is what the government gives you, and your workdays will get longer. Look at history...So please think about what you are asking for, me and my family and friends, will fight you til the end, and you better believe I and my peeps will pull the trigger for this great nation America. (Minute Man)

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

      Well said.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Bob

      . . . that WAS sarcasm, right?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • darp0

      So let me get this straight, you're saying the only way for you to preserve the American way of life (freedom, liberty, justice for all, all men are created equal, pursuit of happiness, etc.) is for you and your friends to shoot everyone who believes something other than you do? Am I correct on that?

      BTW, it's "lose" not "loose"

      March 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Minute Man

      I want to ask a little something.

      Why americans want America to fail?
      I would like at least 6 americans to answer, why you want to change america? such as socialism, give honest educated answer as to what you believe socialist form of government will do for you?
      and why would anyone want sharia law in the most free country in the world? look at every muslum country and they are all protesting for ther freedom, so Why would we want to digress to a system that does not promote freedom?
      and I know that no Educated woman on this board wants Sharia Law in the US, could you imagine telling a woman from california who believes in equal rights to put a burka on, thats a laugh...if we keep going she will be made to do it or die...no lawsuits...any way, can some of you answer with a true educated response as to why you want America to change so drasticaly?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Minute Man

      Thanks for the spelling lesson DARPO, see what I mean, you are just a smart ass! You think more of the spelling than you do of the message...What I was saying is that the american way of life has been around for a while, and now people are imposing their will upon my way of life, I will not impose on you and I expect the same from you...example: such as, press 1 for spanish, how about learn english. Radical muslums marching and stating that they will bring sharia law to US, and hang muslum flag over capital, over my dead body will the muslum flag EVER HANG over MY CAPITAL! and the reason is that you my friend are not smart enough to say I have had enough, so hang on for the ride my friend and when you are in trouble because you will not convert to ISLAM, I will be there to pull you out just before the blade touches your neck..Thanks (Minute Man) sorry for the smart ass comment,

      March 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Chris R

      How does freedom of speech, thought, and religion negatively impact freedom? In a truly free society any one is free to join the church of their choice – not just the ones that you personally approve of. What you are advocating is the opposite of liberty – base pedestrian tyranny.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Minute Man

      well ChrisR, when muslums convert they do adhere to the violence spoken in the Koran, and to me the violence is action, so their freedom of religion is not my concern if they turn to violence due to me being a so called infadel. so chrisr just because you have the freedom to say something, that doesnt always make it right. and there are consiquences for your words and actions. just keep your wants for islam in california and leave the rest of the country alone, we dont want it...(Minute Man)

      March 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Minute Man

      I think what is missing in this world is 1 more GOOD Crusade! wouldnt that be great? (MINUTE MAN)

      March 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  19. john

    The biggest threat to liberty is islam...wake up!!

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

      I totally agree John.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Mark

      Me too...

      March 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • James

      I thought it was government. And then marriage. Dangit, now I have to revise my entire top 10 list!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Harfnab

      While this may be true, you are now an inbred redneck bigot for pointing it out. Aren't libs grand?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Heather

      The biggest threat to MY liberty....are radical fundamentalist Christian bigots who don't have the good sense to keep their mouths shut about things they know absolutely nothing about except what their backwoods pastor told them was true.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Harfnab

      Told you so ^^^^^

      March 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • darp0

      Yea! Lets preserve liberty by squashing Islam! Great idea!!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • kkirious

      The biggest threat to liberty are people like you.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Harfnab

      John, you can only point it out when a Westerner like Hitler is a threat, otherwise you are a bigot. Get it? Never mind the facts.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  20. JustaDad

    How on earth is this the lead story on cnn.com?
    Some "surfer dude" moves to Tennessee and is influenced by his new "friend" to convert to Islam, sounds like a lead story to me. Sheesh....
    Hey CNN in case you've missed it, the President has just bypassed congress and declared a "kinetic military action" on a third Islamic country! Oh and by-the-way, I had to go to foxnews.com to find out that Syrian troops are now firing on protesters.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • socalpimp

      Easy, CNN is heavily involved in promoting the Gay agenda and the Muslim agenda. So some guy is a born again muslim and works for minmum wage at the golf course? WOW!!!!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • SKSK

      Agreed.....this is the front page? Seriously. And the fact that a Sally Fields movie from 20 years ago sparked his interest made me laugh.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • AJ

      It's the lead story because CNN WANTS it to be. They desperately want to be the evangelistic arm of Islam.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • John Smith

      I cant believe this is the leada story on CNN. The continuing proof this is the worst news outlet in America. Refusal to report on any real news (i.e. who's traveling with president obama to brazil, what are the large financial benefactors with Libya / Egypt / ??).

      I dont know the answers, but all these news outlets do is sensationalist garbage and try and instigate fights...fox news is just as bad in their own way.

      Who really cares about some surfer dude loser's convert to Islam? No one.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Daltx

      This makes the online news because everyone replies in these blogs griping and moaning about these types of stories. Once people wake up and stop the incessant online rambling these stories will stop because the media will realize they no longer hold the attention of the masses. However, I'm not holding my breath that people will become smarter than the media.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • nash

      man you are funny.... get schooled in good college and pursue better quality of knowledge.... and dont worry about the invisible man in sky... after all whatever you do.. he still loves youuu.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Joseph

      Where are the stories of Muslims converting to Christianity?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • ???

      I may be because they use a mathematical algorithm to determine which article could be on their front page. It is designed to maximize advertising revenue by putting the articles with the greatest increasing rate of veiwership in the most prominent position.

      Every whack job conspiracy theorist that visits this article complaining about it being on the front page helps it stay there.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • AJ

      Joseph – you're exactly right! What about stories of Muslims who convert to Christianity in countries with which we try to be politically friendly when in fact these converts routinely race torture & execution.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Hannah

      @ John – You care. Obviously. Because you're here and you read the story. I laugh out loud at all you CNN-bashers who rail against every story they don't think is "news" simply because it doesn't interest them. Why click on it, then? Morons.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Killing time

      It would seem that our Supreme leader doesn't recall Vice-president Biden expliciting stating that any president who goes to war without Congress' approval should be impeached. But hey it's all Bush's fault. He inherited the problems in Libya from him, right?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:32 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.