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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. Johnson

    How is this news?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  2. cary lacayo

    For all of those that really think there is no God...Come on REALLY, use your brain please, even highly educated scientist are now coming to the realization that there is a creator. These comments are filled with non believers, but can you answer this question for me – "What is keeping your heart beating right now as you read this?" Let's here all the intelligent logical answers out there...

    As for this guy that changed up his belief...It is our human nature to find our way, whatever that may be, but to go from being a follower of Christ to being a Muslim just goes to show that he never really understood Christianity. Now he will follow the way of works or performance unto the god of Muslims in hopes to try and gain acceptance. Verses following the way of Christianity where the free gift of eternal life is given by God through His Son Jesus Christ in his death on the cross. No works needed, nothing whatsoever of performance, just the acceptance of the finished work on the cross that paid the penalty of sin that we are all guilty of...Based on what he said towards his upbringing, he'll be back...The God of the Bible will chase after him or will come running to him when he returns...

    March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Cary, he has never known the Lord Jesus Christ, or else he would not have left Him...HE may have been church goer, but it's another thing to KNOW the Lord! It's very sad.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  3. Rick

    Really? How about reporting NEWS and not trying to candy coat the fact that we, as Americans, have enemies and a vast majority of them come from the Islamic faith.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  4. jim

    WE LIVE IN THE 21ST CENTURY AND ARE AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN AND PPL STILL BELIEVE IN FAIRY TALES???

    March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      @Jim
      21 century or 50th one... In our arrogant post-modern man's mind, do you think that THE TRUTH ever changes? So , you have outgrown the need to depend on your creator,hm? Well, lets see.... You still need the air you bread, the sun to shine to grow your food...the water you drink... And you think you have outgrown your need for God. Did Darwin and his cronies give all those to you? Do you have answer to those? Now lets see who is the blind sheep here!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  5. Goo

    Really, this is seriously a lead story? A man converts to one of the most controversial religions there is and this is a top story? Unreal

    March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  6. Beckster

    Headline Drudge Report – Muslims stomp on Obama imagine in streets
    Headline CNN – Someone who claims to be a Christian converts?

    This is why CNN is in the toilet. Their "human interest" stories designed to shift the focus from the real issues in the world are a joke. Colonel Jessup to the liberals "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"

    March 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  7. Karl

    Clearly this guy has never read the bible.

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

      Clearly you have never read the quran

      March 25, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Tim

      I have read both and both contain good as well as bad things. My problem is not the religion but the people who run the religion. During the 15th century Islam ruled the most of the world because of the culture underlining it, but since then is has been stuck in the 15th century why because it has lost it's way. It allowed too many tribal rules to take over. Other wise we would not be having this debate and we would all be Muslim. Study world history and the history of Islam. The Christians learned their lesson by the 15th century and moved away from religion based government was it perfect no and it still is not but it favors innovation and money over religion. They kept religion around to help keep the poor in line but everything else is secular and has been for a very long time in Christian countries. Islam can not say the same thing. They could rule the world if they had kept their lead in technology but they let tribal rules take over and have been move backwards ever since.
      I will tell you I am a Christian because that is were I find faith but I have studied all the great religions of the world and in the end my comfort comes from the same God as Islam but I enjoy the peace that Christ teaches. Islam was formed out of the conflict that Christianity brought and the Jewish religion at time of Mohammad. Mohammad found not peace in either but took some of the best of both and added some of the Bedouin customs to form his new religion. Was he a prophet of God most likely but later in life he turned away because that is when he began concerning other people and killing no believers I don't care how you want to spin it that is not of any God that I have studied. So that is why I will never be a Muslim

      March 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  8. Christian

    The media template nowadays is: If you can find an anti-Christian story, lead with it.

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

      No, the media template is "over-react to everything and have a strong, unrelenting opinion even if you are misinformed". Look at how sports are covered these days....one nijury and we need to fundamentally change rules. Look at all this crap about no more nuclear power because a historic natural disaster caused a crisis one time. All these so-called reporters and journalists are a bunch of loudmouths who care more about attention than facts, intelligence, or objectivity.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  9. Angel

    Am I the only one who sees the problem? He watched a movie, based on a true story, that depicted an American mother and child being held captive in Iran. Why would that interest him? What about that movie says "Hmmm. I need to learn more about the Muslim faith"?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  10. JohnM

    Because someone walks into McDonalds it doesn't make them a hamburger. Because Mr Miller nominally attended a Christian church does not mean he was a true Christian. It is not uncommon at all for someone to be a member of a Christian church and to never be converted to true faith in Jesus Christ, or what Jesus Himself called being born again. I only wish Mr Miller had spent some sincere time searching the truth claims of Christ before abandoning Him for Islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  11. jim

    What a worthless brainwash P0S hillbilly. Outlaw all religion b4 it's 2 late.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  12. BnB

    So did he think he was born a Christian, as most Americans do? He had no substantive faith in the Christ. If he described his version of the Christian god, I wouldn't believe in him either... And he demonstrated such critical discernment in selecting Islam? Another clueless and uncritical feelings based article assaulting other faiths while pushing tolerance for the intolerant Islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  13. DeadDeadDead

    Religion = Delusion
    It requires medical attention.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  14. pithymcgee

    What is it that the Christian conservatives complain about? Having to pay for other people, right? Why do they worship Jesus, the biggest socialist ever?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Tante Waileka

      hmmm.... what are you, another parasite living on welfare? or just a fool.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Don

      How did you figure? He never said anything about redistributing wealth. He certainly never said anything about taking stuff from people and giving it to someone else at gunpoint.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  15. simply me

    This is about the mosque that is being built in TN they slightly touched on that and then put the focus on him...I'm sorry but his conversion has no meaning... So what.. We all fight amoung ourselves in this country about who's religion is better, and we have fanatical's in all of them! Read inform yourself knowledge is power! Speak only the truth not what others tell you to say! I have no relgion but I have GOD! Were not going to be taken over by one faith! Many countries live in peace with each other and have one thing above us here in America its called Respect! Learn it try it! we allow the media to constantly mislead us! Most of us are following becuse the person next to you is saying to do so! Question everything but do it without hate and judgment! Remember the Truth will always set you free!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  16. sargeanton

    This is similar to a fundamental Bible believing "Christian" converting to Catholicism with all it's myths and traditions which contradict the Bible. In other words, the guy was never a CHristian in the first place. True Christians never abandon Christianity. They endure to the end. And in case you've not figured it out by now, Catholicism is noit a different Christian denomination...it is a different religion - that's why it's so easy for the pope to snuggle up with Islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • liberty83

      Your ignorance really stands out. Before you open your mouth about another religion you should do your homework first instead of regurgitating what ever nonsense your pastor feeds you on sundays that has nothing to do with the word of God. In a catholic mass we dont set time aside to bash other religions, we focus on the word and our own salvation. First of all, Christianity and Catholicism are not two different religions. Catholicism is THE FIRST christian religion. Incase you forgot, or maybe they dont teach you in sunday school all 12 disciples were catholics, as were all the early christians. To be christian means that you believe that Jesus Christ was sacrificed by the God the father so that we all may be saved. That means Catholics, Methodist, Baptist, Protestant, who ever, are all christians. And, that "bible" that you said Catholics dont understand, We put it together you moron! Now we have a lot of traditions and sacraments that you dont understand, and there for you should not talk about. You worship the way you want, we will the way we want. By the way Jesus's message was one of love, forgiveness, and salvation for ALL man kind. It's your kind of extreme backwards thinking that ignites these religious tensions, and wars. We are all worshiping the same God, overtime the way that we choose to worship him has changed. Islam happened to break off during old testament times with the split between the sons of Abraham: Isaac and Ismael. Of course our line follows that of Isaac. So seek salvation the way you want, and shut up about the way Catholics or any other christian religion decides to, as well as Muslims. And go read a book about early christianity, you might learn something.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Sarg,
      we must remember that our Lord said, if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also, if they didn't hear me they will not hear you either... What you spoke is the truth. And there is no spite in your comment, only truth.

      As for you,
      liberty83,

      If you really knew the Lord, you would cling to His Word. You can not separate God, Jesus Christ, His Word and His Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth. Yet, you reject the Spirit of Truth.
      Sarg was right when he said
      " Catholicism is not a different Christian denomination...it is a different religion – that's why it's so easy for the pope to snuggle up with Islam"
      You are clinging to Religion...Your religion obstructing your view of God. Therefore you have opened yourself up to all kinds of deception, and your post certainly confirms that...

      March 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  17. Jeus Is Lord

    Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. Jesus Christ is Lord and He is the ONLY way to the Father in Heaven. If you believe otherwise, then you are deceived and eternally lost.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  18. Eric

    He looks like Jesus.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  19. PRISM 1234

    He may have been "raised in church', but he did not KNOW the Lord Jesus Christ. Many still sit in pews, but don't KNOW Him. And today's churches with easy believ'ism messages make it very cozy for them.... I feel for this poor guy, I hope he wakes up out of his lullaby before his time of the appointment which no man will miss!

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

      I totally agree. And I hope you'll wake up from your lullaby one day too.

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

      How about you learn a little about islam

      March 25, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • rdixon

      How very sanctimonious of you. Statements like this are the reason that people like me turn away from Christian churches. Who are you to say, to judge? Your relationship with God is just that – your relationship. You don't know what his relationship with God is about.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Well, well.... Do I hear the familiar parr'oting? "you're judging... you're judging...po'lly-wanna-cra'cker...

      And here you are judging ME!

      Where was the evil in my post? Can some of you parr'ot that to enlighten me?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Tom

      "I feel for this poor guy, I hope he wakes up out of his lullaby before his time of the appointment which no man will miss!" What's this 'time of appointment,' PRISM? Is this a time you've scheduled to do harm to the guy in the story? Or is it the time you God has scheduled to hurt this guy? There's you 'parr'oting' PRISM!

      March 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  20. Adam

    Cool. Changed form one arbitrary belief system to another. Congrats!

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

      Young people often turn away from a week spiritual upbringing to something other than what they were brought up in. But there 2 problems:
      1) They were never really catechized or taught their own original faith properly so their questions never get answered so they come to believe the questions have never been answered by anyone simply because their parents did not know the answers.
      2) They are NEVER as logically scrutinizing of the tradition they turn to as they were of their original belief. For example, Islam says that Jesus was a good man and a profit. However, everything we know of Jesus from both Biblical scripture and external history indicates that Jesus either was the son of God or a Fraud. He could not have been anything in the middle.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Chris

      Lol, thats pretty much what it is. One myth to another.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • BMF

      I agree, there is no God and I hope to have helped a few today so they won't be let down when they die.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Dave

      His comment says it all " I was afraid but I don't know of what?" Let me explain, you weak kneed whimp, religion has you wrapped around its terroristic little finger. Maybe you should get a backbone and drop all religion? Probably wouldn't make it into the BELIEF SECTION OF CNN. Or was this just a stunt so that you could get your 15 minutes of fame?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Jeff

      Exactly. Has this guy ever thought for himself?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:57 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.