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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. Not All Docs Play Golf

    It would be nice if mankind continued a journey toward REASON instead of converting from one irrational belief to another.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  2. Mahmooud

    good for him. He also should change his citizenship and move to arab countries. I believe he will find the real beauty of islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  3. rick

    Religion is your conscious, if you have no conscious you have no religion!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  4. Stan

    I know quite a few scholars who converted to Muslim from Christian. So, this is no surprise to me.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  5. Charles D. Bruce

    He went from dumb to dumber.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  6. jorge washinsen

    If you ply the waters of CNN you will find most of your posts will disappear after being scrutunized if you do not agree with their take.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  7. Omar

    Matthew:

    Why not take some time to learn about your new religion.

    1. Read the hadith;
    2. Read the Al Azhar approved guide to Sunni islamic law called "Reliance of the Traveler;"
    3. Learn about "abrogation" and "progressive revelation";
    4. Find out what a "right hand possession" is;
    5. Learn about the life of Mohammad from at least one non-apologetic source. The top info bar at "therelgionofpeace" takes about 5 minutes to review;
    6. Learn about what happened to the jewish tribes of the Arabian penninsula, like Banu Queryza and Nadir
    7. Read "Mohammad's Dead Poet Society."
    8. Find out who Ayesha was – and why it still matters (Mohammad's conduct is a source of islamic law; see also Q65:4).

    March 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  8. Kael

    Jesus loves each one of you. You have the chance to know Him everyday in your life. He welcomes the poor, the sick, the sinner etc. He will always be knocking on your door. Don't be afraid to call His name. He is the cure, He is the solution, He will take you by His hand and clean your soul and spirit from the evil. He is looking for the sinners like myself, the imperfect human being that we all are. Remember that you only get one shot, if you die tomorrow there is no time to regret. God bless all of us!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • fundies

      too bad he's always wasting his time hanging out in the barrio. Si.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Kael

      fundies, Jesus loves you, Shalom.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • larsonab

      i hate traveling salesmen.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Kael

      larsonab, Jesus loves the haters too. Shalom.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  9. fundies

    apparently, J-I-H-A-D is a frickin monitored/censored word. CNN = no fun

    March 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Omar

      There are ALOT of islamo-related words that aren't making it past the CNN "filters." I can vouch for that.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  10. Idil Mendale

    there is no compulsion in religion of Islam, you are free to choose, I agree with the mother of Matthew Miller, that by choosing the Islamic faith will make it a peaceful and happy why not. Hopefully Matthew Miller can become good Muslims, and to give comfort to all those around him

    March 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  11. ss

    While so many of you are spewing ignorance and intolerance, lets think: if being a Muslim makes you a terrorist based on past events; then being a Christian must also make you a terrorist, based on Timothy McVey and his actions. This is not a news article; it is a blog that offers a voice to someone. Read and it have your opinion or choose not to read it.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • OldGoat

      While so many of you are spewing ignorance and intolerance...

      If everyone is, in your opinion, spewing "ignorance and intolerance" then they must all be Muslims, as ignorance and intolerance is the core of that religion.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • American Rebel

      Ignorance is only if it's real. This is just fantasy. Seriously question the existence of God (or any Deity) when you tell your kids that Saint Nick is not real... Why is it one magical person can not exist but another can? Where's the logic in that?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  12. JIm8

    I feel badly for those who believe.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  13. OldGoat

    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.”

    And with that, yet another fool got sucked into the most vicious and violent religion ever conceived.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • SarahLV

      History points to Christianity being just as violent, if not moreso, as Islam. If you looked several centuries back before 9/11, you'd know that.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • JustSomeone

      If you really believe that Islam is the most violent religion then please read a lot more about Christianity through out history and even today. It is just as violent. But you are obviously bias. About 1% of Muslims are extremists and violent out of nearly a Billion Islamic people. We can thank them for ignorant people like you to believe that it makes the whole religion violent. Get educated. And if you hate someone for a different view then you aren't worthy to believe.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  14. darp0

    Down with christianity! Down with Islam! Down with all of your anachronistic religions! Down with your separation! Down with your divisive hate! Up with science! Up with reason! Up with humanity!!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Dexter Alarius

      "Down with your divisive hate! "
      That's pretty ironic, don't you think?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  15. ???

    If you conspiracy nuts don't like that certain stories are on the front page stop clicking on them and stop commenting on them. CNN, like Yahoo, has their stories rise to the top based on viewer interest (to maxamize advertising revenue).

    March 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  16. MyJudgement

    how much did they pay him to do this? this reeks of a Obamanation setup to attempt to unite people under one faith.. but i honestly believe this could very well be a valid story.. wait.. no.. I don't believe that at all. Hehe

    March 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  17. Navy Vet

    It is amaizing the uproar that this story has caused on this blog. Where is the story abour an islamic conversion to christianity. A person leaving behind a religion of intolerance and infidel bombing to accept Jesus as their savior! I want someone to post their story about their conversion to chrstianity!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • TruthMatters

      You summed it up perfectly Navy Vet. Where are the Islamic intellectuals? It all comes down to what is truth. I have a Quran and am interested in all religions and why they believe what they believe. I generally try not to spout off without really knowing anything about the subject. Jesus did say He was the truth. You can go bow down at the grave of Mohammed and even lay flowers there. Yeah..his body is still here.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • DMcK

      Can't see many of those – Islam STILL believes in killing those who leave, so most apostates do not tell or are very quiet about it.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Dexter Alarius

      Won't happen, they would be setting themselves up as targets. Apostates from Islam are to be killed.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Yang

      Stop being jealous, it's unattractive.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • SarahLV

      I love how you consider Islam to be a religion of "intolerance and infidel bombing", but you don't look back in history and count Christianity as the same thing. Currently, we can see the intolerance part of it quite clearly. Look back to the times of Torquemada and the Crusades (and many, many other times), and instead of infidel bombing, it can be replaced with torturing, killing and warring against the non-believers who refused to convert, and converting those who were too afraid to stand up for their faiths.

      Could there be stories about Muslims converting to Christianity? Definitely. Does Islam have a monopoly on intolerance and violently forcing the hands of those who don't believe? Oh HE-LL no! Get off of your high horse.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  18. Jared

    If his mom was a solid Christian and believed that Jesus was the only way for our sins to be removed that we might have a relationship God and forgiveness then she never would have said "okay sure". If she thought the Bible was the truth then she would not let her son convert to a religion that contradicts it. Bottom line he transferred from a set of "Christians" who didn't really take seriously or know their book to Muslims who read their book. It's not hard to convert ignorant liberal Christians because their faith and understanding of God is incredibly weak because they didn't read or live by it. Sure they may have lived by the parts that boosted their self esteem but may have skipped the part calling for submission to Jesus as Lord and the whole sin thing that calls them out for hypocrisy... Bottom line -> 1 John 2:19 "19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."

    March 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • david55

      So you would disown a child who converted to a different religion? I mean thats very biblical of you, but you might as well go ahead and put him to death, thats also in the bible for children who go against the will of their parents.

      Or you could realize you only believe what you believe because you were born into a family who taught you to be christian, just like their parents taught them, just like the romans forced europe to convert to christianity. if anything this kids faith means more than yours since he actively chose it himself. Luckily you are both likely incorrect as it is most probable that their is no supreme being.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Hman

      Islam actually not that different from Christianity. they are very similar.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • SarahLV

      Rather than saying that his mother isn't a real Christian because she supported him, how about saying that she supports and loves her son because he's her son, and only we as human beings know what's best for ourselves? I realize that, in your narrow, little world, if someone isn't a "real Christian", they will burn. Fortunately, the rest of us know that we know nothing that hasn't been scientifically proven, and understand that faith does not equal truth. Yes, it is what you BELIEVE to be truth, but that is truly a statement based on opinion, and not on actual truth.

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

    Funny how CNN devotes their pages to this. Where's the stories on the conversions the other way??

    March 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Muslim

      @keith, its funny why they wouldn't, do a little research on the rates of those who convert to Islam vs. those who leave it and you will understand

      March 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Steve

      The Islamic penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity is death.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • larsonab

      you mean to sanity (i.e., atheism)?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Lambspam

      Because Christians aren't a marginalized group and aren't facing widespread intolerance.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • ck1721

      Liberals don't want to gear about the thousands of converts every year to Christianity and Judaism. It hurts their affirmations that God doesn't exist and we shouldn't live moral lives. Plus, Chirstians & Jews don't blow themselves up on buses and in crowded places to make a point.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Jillian

      "He kind of started admitting, 'Well you know, I don’t know anything about Islam.”"
      Hmm let me enlighten him...all the Islamic countries are all f'd up right now! They can't even get along with each other, and they're all getting lit up either by their own people, a coalition, or the almighty US of A!!! Booooyah! I'll enjoy my bacon, thank you. Oh, and MODERN society too.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • beth

      Heard a conversion the other way via Christian radio the other night. A Muslim family gradually converted to Christianity after being welcomed UNCONDITIONALLY by members of a local Baptist church. The LOVE won them over. Why is this significant? 1) Christianity is about LOVE, so if we practice what Jesus taught, we will be full of compassion and 2) We keep wanting to show how our way is the only way to God, but we may be mistaken. There are universal truths in other religions if we but listen.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Muslim

      @Steve, Its not just cut and dry like that. There are many examples where the companions of prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) had relatives that were apostates and the companions requested from the prophet to leave them and he did. The general rule of apostasy in Islam is that if you leave the religion to another and propagate the other religion and attack Islam while living in an Islamic state ( which is non existent in our time, even Saudi Arabia is not an Islamic state that follows the Quran and Sunnah. There are many Muslim states but not a single Islamic state on the world map ) then the death penalty will be imposed on you by the Islamic state. watch from min 6:00 of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Coux2mS4tbg&feature=related

      March 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Jillian

      @Muslim
      You seem to have alot of worthless videos. Why not show the videos of women getting stoned to death by the great followers of Islam? Or the beheadings of Muslims by Muslims? When was the last time a Christian stoned or beheaded a Muslim on video? Also, America killed less muslim civilians then muslims did in their own country. That's a fact. America does it, not intentionally, during war time. Muslims do it for fun just so they have the right to say lalalalalabualala.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  20. MojoBlack

    cant we all just bash the organized religons????

    March 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • fundies

      I like bashes. I like the ones where everybody pours a bottle of liquor into a trash can with punch. I don't drink that garbage, but I like to watch those that do.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • American Rebel

      isn't that what we are doing?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • John from Buffalo

      Since when did Christianity become the religion of hate? Man created aggression, not the faith.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • muslim religion of hate

      Islam is the only religion that encourages its members to blow themselves up. Imagine how different the world would look if muslim radicals hadnt blow up the world trade center. just remember CNN is bias they want us to believe being muslim is a "peaceful" religion, but its clearly not

      March 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Muslim

      @muslim religion of hate, show me where it says in the Quran or prophetic saying "Oh Muslims go and blow yourselves up" !! I can argue with you in the same manner. Christianity is the religion of hate look at how many innocent died in Afghanistan after Bush announced it was a crusade. And what about Timothy McVeigh ?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:45 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.