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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. Aezel

    Congratulations. You exchanged one brand of schizophrenic belief in imaginary beings in the sky controlling your fate to another brand of schizophrenic belief in imaginary beings in the sky controlling your fate.

    I'd count that as an even exchange of delusional mental health issues.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • J

      Well said

      March 25, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Well put

      March 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  2. Valerie

    Jesus, I trust in YOU!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  3. peacppl

    ignorant hicks...my apologies to the educated among u...HAPPY PASSOVER AND EASTER

    March 25, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  4. ohno

    oh crap, i read the sentence out loud. does that mean i'm a mooslim now?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  5. Andrew Dougman

    Personally, I never had much use for religion. I always respected other people's freedom to believe what they will (or will not). Nevertheless, religious freedom ends where my right to fly or ride the subway without getting blown up begins. Islam is not a religion but a violent ideology. After 9/11 they still owe us a demonstration of their good intentions. I have not seen it. Otherwise, believe in whatever gives you comfort.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  6. Gloria

    He should have read the Koran (Quran) before converting. The Koran says he now must kill all infidels or anyone who is not Muslim, including Christians, Jews, nonbelievers, Buddists, etc. This is shameful that he did not study the actual religion before converting.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • andre

      so does deteuronomy

      March 25, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      "..Miller is a digital media communications major at Middle Tennessee University.."

      I am sure he has done more than that Gloria, now go back to your trailer.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • andre

      oh, the bible also tell us to kill family too: If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

      Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_verses_in_the_Bible_advocate_killing_non_believers#ixzz1HcaO6BZG

      March 25, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Commonsense

      Gloria,

      The Quran doesn't say that at all. Feel free to do the research yourself.
      What it says is in case of war, kill them as they are killing you.
      Sounds a lot like an arm for an arm and a tooth for a tooth.....sounds familiar?

      March 25, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • andre

      She's the kind the believes all she sees on American TV.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • kemal

      Hmm, your ignorance is worth to note. Have you ever thought why there are still Arab christians in Middle East, or why we still have nations like Bulgarian, Greeks, Serbs even after they lived under Muslim governance for more than 500 years.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • HisServant

      In the Old Testament God appears harsh for three reasons. First, it was to demonstrate the exacting requirements of the Law, a perfect and demanding standard. Second, it ultimately demonstrates the need for grace that would eventually be manifested on the cross. Third, should rebellion take root the very heart of the gospel would be at risk since the prophecies of the Messiah coming to and through Israel could be undermined should rebellion become rampant and society fall apart causing the prophecies to fail. Therefore, we can conclude that this harsh requirement was a necessary legality to instill and designate the necessity of family order and respect and to ultimately provide another safeguard that would ensure the sacrifice of Christ. Gloria is correct

      March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • andre

      I give you all the credits, I understand the circunstances that's been told, and I understand that Chist is the only way. However she claims Quran tells to kill non believers, I was just showing her the other side of the coin that the bible also have that statement. It doesn't mean that neither Christians or Muslisms kill people (with the exeption of extremists that use religion as an excuse to do so), as Romans 2 reads: You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Is it only shameful he did not start going to your Church first?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  7. VegasRage

    When are people going to learn to have more faith in themselves and quit looking to the old books written by patriarchal men who wanted to control they way people acted and thought?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  8. Hal

    TN1, Yes they believe in the same God but they do not believe in the Son of God Jesus Christ. God himself came to earth and took on the form of a man. He lived for thirty three years without sin. He took our sin on him when he hung on the cross. He died, was buried and rose again the third day. Muhammed did not rise from the dead.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      and then again, a week after that.

      Seen anyone rise from the dead lately? I mean, besides John McCain?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Davidk

      What a quaint story for children... grow up and be civil! Stop chopping off the heads who disagree with you.

      March 26, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  9. Dunbwhiteguy

    This dude has never had an original thought !!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  10. enrique

    I wonder if his conversion had anything to do with the way some Christians are. You go to church to be helped and feel bless and instead you feel condemned and come out feeling worse. not all churches are the same but probably this had something to do with it.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  11. Gesus

    Maybe CNN should change its name to MNN, the Mooselim News Network. They can run this puff piece again to show what a nice guy he was after he detonates somewhere taking some infidels with him.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  12. peacppl

    u all sound unamerican.....u r all as uneducated as racist muslims in other countries...this america....higher standard...JESUS AND MARY ARE MENTIONIONED IN THE QURAN SO MANY TIMES....u dont even understand ur own bible to know if MUHAMMAD was mentioned....did u expect him to be named...he is allover old tastament

    March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Texans Fan

      We all sound un-American? You sound UNEDUCATED..on so many levels.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • H

      Muhammed is mentioned in the new testament as "false teachers". The Bible also warns that if anyone comes preaching a different doctrine other than Jesus Christ to reject it. So the bible covered itself from anything coming after it. Sorry Muslims

      March 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  13. Frank In SA

    Just another Pathetic attempt by CNN to pander to the Islamic community!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Kenny

      When CNN does a story on christianity I'll expect you to accuse them of pandering to christianity. But no, you'll just say they did a story on christianity DESPITE their liberal bias. It's such a simpleminded life isn't it.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      run to your momma

      March 25, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  14. Just me

    I'm not the Muslim, but I am glad that he chose religion. To me, all of us, should pick the religion ... not to be born "with religion". Beliave in what ever you want but at end just be a good man and everything is going to be OK. Brave and not easy decision. Congratulation! I wish you all the best.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  15. zuzu81

    Peace be upon you brother Matthew. Jesus Christ is not God's son. Some people allege that he is son of God, coz he didn't have father. What about prophet Adam(pbuh). He didn't have father, either. God creates us from a small drop of liquid and gives this perfect shape.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Jim

      Can you prove that Christ was not the son of God? Mohammad was just a man who twisted his knowledge of the bible that he learned from a women to control the tribes in order to slay those that opposed him. That is a FACT. Mohammad was a false prophet.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Rick

      Jim, can you prove Jesus WAS the son of God? We know that he existed, but the only accounts of him being the "living son of God" came though his apostles. Your faith in what these PEOPLE (mortal humans) wrote in their various accounts, are just as valid as a Muslim's faith in the Quran.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Davidk

      The stinky-god alah likes the sticky goo too!

      March 26, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  16. Ryan

    I undertsand why they don't worship men and women together. You've never seen a gal in her Sunday dress and thought what she'd look like without it? They don't want that temptation in Allah's house.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Davidk

      Woo Hoo... bend over and smile for Alah, raise your stinky-parts to heaven for alah, the stinky-god!

      March 26, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  17. Duepeak

    I, for one, applaud his courage and willingness to accept another religion into his life; not to mention the fact he switched to the Islam faith. I am not religious myself, but believe everyone should be able to practice whatever religion they feel drawn to. And CW, its people like you that are causing rifts in our society and around the world, why is it so hard for you to accept another religion exists, even if it doesn't agree with your own. Everyone on the planet deserves the right to believe in and worship whomever they wish.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Davidk

      As long as they don't chop off the heads of people that disagree with them! It's like the little children sayiong "my god's bigger than your god" and then growing up into big people but still infants in their belief. Wow... suckers and murderers stuck in the same body. What a waste of skin the muslims are!

      March 26, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  18. mistatk

    I am a Christian, and I think that it is a great thing that this guy is finding a religion that he can truly devote himself to. While it is a shame that there are those fringe extremist groups in religion (note that I didn't just say Islam, us Christians are far from perfect) that get all the media attention, and can lead to misconceived views of other religions and cultures, it is good to see that there are some people who are willing to question the common perception, and to use God-given free will and curiosity to make their own informed decisions about religious belief, whether that decision be Christian, Islamic, Jewish, atheistic, or otherwise. Kudos to this young man, I wish more people could be more open-minded.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Aasha

      mistatk – kudos to YOU! I myself am not a Muslim, but if only people were as open minded as yourself as well.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • ali

      I agree!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • GE

      You're a what? John 14:6, Philippians 2:10-11....Stop calling yourself a Christian when you clearly don't support the word of God. Kudos to idolatry. Give me a break. And for the record...I'm not judging anyone..."My people perish from a lack of knowledge." Sound familiar?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      @ GE: He's allowing someone to make the decision for himself, and applauding the fact he deliberated and took his time. Would you prefer to convert people to Christianity with a gun?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  19. sammano

    I wonder how long it'll be until he starts blowing stuff up and killing people.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • dazablue

      sammano, you're an idiot. it comes from upbringing. your parents must be idots too. please don't procreate. (that means have chidlren.) if you stop the lineage now, we'll be down one idiot.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  20. Angel

    The world is made up of (stating the obvious) all kinds of people. At least we have a right to choose. However, the history of mohammad is disgusting. Not much I would want to learn beyond his like of screwing 8 and 10 year old girls, but somehow they manage to talk around that as if it was okay. Hey, maybe for those that believe it is okay.

    Believe what you want to believe we all have to die so we will all get to the truth either way. Still, I will watch my back with muslims. Never known them to not be crazy (disregarding of human life) when it comes to their beliefs and I've met a few. They were all very questionable characters–wife lookin 12, violent tempers, low view of women, etc. etc.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am |
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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.