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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. jorge washinsen

    Remember 9-11,if you have forgotten, check the news reels of the peaceful religion and what it means to be an infidel dirt under their feet.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  2. marshall

    Thousands of Christians Displaced in Ethiopia After Muslim Extremists Torch Churches, Homes (new headlines from yesterday and again today, but ....and then this story front page for them right now shows CNN anti-Christian bias!
    This is news from many other outlets EXCEPT CNN...I'm really disappointed.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  3. Tom Paine

    Shock us CNN. Put up an article about someone converting to Christianity instead of one meant to scare Christians (and generate lots of hits) about Christians converting to Islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  4. Big Bob

    Ken,

    Glenn Beck? Fox News? Is that cliche the best you can do?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  5. Jimbo

    Anyone who converts to anything other than being agnostic or athiest isn't very smart in my book, the real book.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • edn116

      And exactly what book would that be...?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  6. Truth

    Ok so he is 30 years old and still working on his major.. Dont most people have that done by the time they are 21 or 22? On top of that he was working at a golf course.. i dont think he is representaive of a person with marginal cognative capacity. He was a weak minded individual who could not think for him self. Thats why he was not happy with Christiantiy. He will not be happy with Islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  7. Jason

    This is an interesting article. But I have to say that if an alien knew nothing about Earth except what it read on CNN, it would conclude that the United States population consists mostly of athiests, with a few ex-Christians who are now adherents of other religions. Not particularly accurate.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  8. SamC

    Here's a message regardless of your religion. Look up, Close your eyes, smile, lower your head and pray to your God for forgiveness for the bad things you do and say. Ask your God to guide you to help others. Smile at everyone and remember people can be infuenced to hate or love each other. What do you think your smile will do? It certainly won't hurt.

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

    the inquisition! run away!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  10. johnName*

    You would never hear about a Muslim turning Christian but this is front-page stuff. Ridiculous!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  11. The truth is hidden

    The sad point in this young man’s situation is that apparently one of two things happened. He didn't have a Christ like man (Dad) in his life that walked it and backed his walk with the talk. Because of this his foundation was not solid which allowed him to be influenced. In turn leading me to believe that in a short time the same short comings he found or felt in Christianity will surface around him in Islam and he will find himself looking across the proverbial fence for the next answer. This in turn will lead him believe that the answer isn’t Islam, becoming an atheist or agnostic. It is like the house built on sand that is washed away by water or blown over by the wind?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  12. hoofleau

    I am just tired of having religion rammed down my throat. I have my own hopes and beliefs. They are personal to me. I can only hope that there is something bigger going on that no earthling or "prophet" can claim to realize until their time comes to pass from this life. Why would I listen to them? They don't truly know. When I was a kid, I played with friends of all faiths and never once was there an issue. We all liked each other. Religion was not an issue. Just be kind to each other during your stay here on earth. Each and everyone of us will find the reason after the passing of our own lives.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  13. JonathanL

    I think it was a bad choice. Thing is once you convert to Islam you aren't allowed to change your mind on penalty of death. Personally I don't think anyone can say for sure that anyone is the messenger of God, or even whether God exists. In the ancient writings about the God of the Old testament, The Judeo-Christiano-Islamic God (Yahweh..Jehovah.."The" God.. aka Allah) thinks he is the most special. According to his scribiner interpreters, "He" claims to be the God above all the other Gods. According to the Bible, originally Yahweh was one of the sons of El, the chief god. He was various things to the people who followed that religion; at one point he was the war god of the Israelites (Jehovah translates as "great Warrior"). There are many early versions of the Biblical creation story (predating Genesis. Some take place in 7 days (the earliest story from about 1200 B.C. and sometimes the creator is female such as Euronyme (the genesis story from ancient Greece). There are passages in the Pentateuch which still reflect the old polytheism of the area in the Old Testament. Yahweh was first one of many gods, then the chief god of a particular tribe, then the one true god out of many, then the creator of the entire universe. I guess that sounds better. It commands more respect and certainly puts the other Gods in a lower status. All you have to remember is that God is a jealous God and will not exactly be happy if you go back and worship one of the other Gods for example, Molech, Resheph, Melqart or Tanit. Much was edited out of the Bible in the 4th century as being too fantastical or because it did not present Jesus in the right light. The Quran includes several of the books that were edited out and also leaves out several of the earliest writings. I haven't made up my mind. Should I believe in this God just because he says that's who he is? Is isn't very nice you know, remember he killed everybody on the planet except Noah at the time of the flood. He impregnated a woman engaged to someone else to be married. Personally if my fiancee got pregnant and told me God did it, I wouldn't be a strong believer. But that's me. CIAO. I honestly God was just another ancient myth and I don't see how we haven't all woken up to that fact yet. It is staring us all in the face.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  14. jorge washinsen

    You can catch any disease if you are exposed to it enough.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  15. someone in america

    I'm 16, and I have much more common sense than this retard up here, he's like the main reason why people around the world judge American for what we do. Personally I am non-religious so I think he's stupid for picking to be with the faith of Islam, but that's my opinion. I think this is some kind of joke since CNN lies about the news more than Fox does, but I asume we will see more later on about this dummy.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  16. RationalThinker

    One tainted form of thought to another. Unfortunately for both the religions in question they simply are not doing the job they were first inteded to do. How about you shouldn't believe in anything but yourself and at the same time respect that your fellow human also believe in themselves because we are all people on this Earth. God is just a figment to scare us into keeping in line and consequently we have prejudice,divide and the dead to thank for it.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  17. SamC

    This is what I know...
    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
    .....and Jesus was not not a liar.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Toby

      Jesus also said that he would return before those around him tasted of death. He has not returned. Was he mistaken, a liar, or merely a legend created by those who truly wanted to believe in immortality? There is no evidence of Jesus outside the pages of the Bible. There is plenty of evidence that people believe in Jesus, yet little (read: none) evidence that this figure actually existed in history, much less was a god or the son of a god. Peace.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  18. OnanismO

    Anyone who goes from a religion (Christianity) that was ripped off from a pre-existing religion (Judaism) to another religion (Islam) that was ripped off from the same source (Judaism) but which came along AFTER the other ripped-off branch that he used to belong to.... and on top of that..... Judaism was ripped off from who knows what other pre-existing religions from Greece, Persia, Egypt...... really has NO BRAINS AT ALL! And on top of that he lives in TN?! Ha ha ha!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  19. Toby

    Bertrand Russell~ "My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology, nor is there any reason to wish that they were true. Man, in so far as he is not bound by natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny-the choice is his, and so is the opportunity."

    March 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  20. Jess

    So many little lost lambs. Looking for pre-fabricated answers instead of thinking for themselves. So sad.

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

      God will show me the way.

      OUCH!! Darn glass doors...

      March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
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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.