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. Jean-Carlo

    Mohammed's youngest wife was 9 year old Aisha (some say she was 6 years old) whom he married in his 50's. Many people justify this by saying it was culturally acceptable to do so at that time in that area of the world.

    But shouldn't someone who is truly spiritually enlightened set an example for others? They wouldn't practice slavery, kill others, lie, steal, sleep with kiddies, harm animals, etc.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Kelley

      No. You are asking him to have a modern worldview 14 centuries ago. That is no more possible than it is for us to have the worldview of people 14 centuries in the future.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Solomon

      This is the Atheism mindset on all religious doctrines. Good news, we don't discriminate on any of them, thus feel each one are idiotic identical outdated rubbish.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  2. Roman, Butler, PA

    I AM the Alpha and the Omega. The First and the Last. Can mohammed save the middle east? Mohammed came as a false prophet, but I come as the Truth, for the Spirit of God lives in Me.
    To find out why these events are unfolding upon this Earth, read this blog; http://www.lordlionjc.blogspot.com
    And when you read this look in the upper left hand corner of the sign I AM standing next to. A reflection of My Truth, a dove.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  3. Ari

    this is about christianity vs islam – both are madness. religion is the problem here – not one brand. think about it, it's like 2 people arguing about whether their version of the tooth fairy is the correct one!

    the problem in our country (the US) is education and progress. go to the places where socioeconomic development is the most stunted, where there's the most poverty, where education levels are the worst – that's where the cancer of religion breeds. with ignorance, religion comes intolerance, bigotry and insular thinking.

    the only hope for our country to rid itself of this disease is education and jobs. then people have no time for imaginary deities.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Solomon

      Welcome to Atheism. Last frontier for mankind to embrace before it's too late, thus exercise the use of our consciousness to solve real world problems with audacious dissent over any utterance of religious dogmas and paradoxes in the name of humility and courageousness of our species. Naysayers believe in the end of days or Easter bunnies conquests against eggs thievery, alas like ancient scrolls will be dealt with in same logical foundations of natural selection, extinct in minds of man in order to survive with adapting to the needs of our environments using a enlightenment testimonial called Science.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  4. jorge washinsen

    Everyone keep posting. I got to clean the cat box.The ones who planted this story have gotten an earful and I know no one who needs it worse.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  5. TKM

    A 30 year old college student who still goes to Disney with his Mom....yeah he's got it all figured out.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  6. jorge washinsen

    Remember,religion has wiped out more of God's creatures than wars.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Jean-Carlo

      Most wars in the past WERE fought over religion. Even the Invasion of Iraq was said to be a "religious war" in "God's name" by Pres. Bush.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  7. dike

    I believe in equal rights, by that I mean treat them like they will treat you in their muslim country. BTW have any of you lived in a Muslim country like the middle east? If you have you know what I am talking about.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  8. TN1


    Christianity as a whole can't agree on the trinity defintion. But they will agree on God the father, and yes that is the same God that Muslims believe in. I encourage you to take a theology course and learn where Muslims stem from.


    He won't just say Christian because just like Christian denominations we all worship in different ways. Just like some Christians are Sabbath keepers and others are Sunday keepers. He just chose something that fit his lifestyle better than Christianity did I suppose.


    You demonstrate a bit a dyslexia. I did not say that they worship the same, I stated that they believe in the same God. Again, Christians can't agree on a certain way to worship so why should another religion? And I have experienced life as an unbeliever. But guess what? Even if your an unbeliever you are still believing. You are believing that there is no greater plan for the afterlife. I chose to believe in something else. Not once have I brought my personal beliefs into this commentary. I'm simply stating facts!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  9. geo

    I hope you have pre-detonation while trying to claim your 76 virgins silenence! I kill you! A QUOTE FROM AUCHMED THE DEAD TERRORIST THE TERRIFYING TERRORIST !

    March 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Izzisgirl

      You spelled his name wrong . . . A-C-ummmm-phlegm . . .

      March 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • nelly

      this 76, 77, 78 virgin thing is retarded like u, and untrue its just a mistake in translation so get it out of ur head a non muslim will say anything to make islam look like a joke

      March 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  10. mattymatt

    NASA approves of this conversion.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  11. Tina

    Does anyone else find it interesting that Mohammed's youngest wife was 9-year-old Aisha when Mohammed was 50-years-old?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • abby

      pedophilia by any other name is still pedophilia....

      March 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Jean-Carlo

      Sounds like the two growing religions of world, Mormanism and Islam, will have one thing in common: Both of their founders were pedophiles. 50-year-old Joseph Smith made a 14-year-old girl his wife for only ONE NIGHT and Mohammed made a 9-year-old his wife.

      Both men must have been real charmers. 😉

      March 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Kelley

      No. In the 7th century, young girls were routinely married off to older men. This was not unique to Islam.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • SlimShady

      Kelley: And in some cultures cannibalism was acceptable. But that doesn't mean a "Prophet of God" has to "follow the fads" and eat people, practice pedophilia, take slaves or abuse animals. They are capable of *thinking for themselves* and setting a *good example* for others to follow.

      He could have easily said "no" to a child bride to set an example for other men.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  12. Kim

    Amen Peace2Peace...

    March 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  13. SconnieGuz

    you crazy muslims need to quit telling Americans we need to learn more about Islam. Nobody cares about your stupid culture or your stupid murderous beliefs. We didn't ask to be attacked on 9/11 and we haven't asked for you people to slowly infest our society ever since. Do not come over here thinking you need to influence OUR CULTURE or change OUR WAYS to accomodate you all. You have a whole section of the planet where people live in misery because they choose to follow islam. Don't bring that nonsense over here.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • SconnieisWrong

      Maybe you should try explaining your views to a Native American.... I'm sure he would agree with you if you change a couple of words in your sentence...

      By the way I'm a proud Christian and Canadian, which in the eye of a good part of the world is the same thing as a US Citizen.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Izzisgirl

      cool . . . I guess I can say I'm a cop, cuz I work down the street from a police station?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • SconnieGuz

      What would you like me to do for the native Americans that were killed so long ago by the people that founded this country? What can anybody do about that? Nobody alive today had anything to do with that and, from looking at what my native American friends have now courtesy of the american tax payer, they are more than well compensated for the things that happened hundreds of years ago. Most of them just smoke dope and drink all day and live on their huge govt payments they receive every month. You know what I have done though? I've served my country because I love my country and to fight against the people that bombed us. I was just fine with muslims til they started trying to change things in American society to accomodate their psychotic ways and go on and on with how we need to "learn about islam." How bout they learn about islam IN AN ISLAMIC COUNTRY AND QUITE TRYING TO DRIVE PEOPLE CRAZY WITH IT HERE?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • JustSomeone

      America has this thing called "Freedom of Religion", and guess what? There have been Jews, Christians, Muslims (even famous American Basketball players), Mormons, and plenty of other religions in America before 9/11 – So your point about it being different from the culture in America is mute. You obviously don't even know your own culture.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  14. Ituri

    Different name, same game.

    Going from Christianity to Islam is like a kid going from the sand box to the teeter totter. Its still a messy little kid pretending to be an astronaut.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  15. Paul

    Mr. Miller;s conversion from the true faith to Islam is he biggest mistake he's ever made. I pray he turns back to the true God, Jehovah, of the Bible, through faith in Jesus Christ. Islam had no historical support, nor textual support. It's totally man-made.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Ricky Bobby

      This is probably one of the most hilarious posts I've read. Ever.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Izzisgirl

      There is no ONE true faith. Your faith IS what your faith is. What's important is that you believe.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • d

      All religion is man made.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • SlimShady

      I don't think Mr. Miller *can* convert back to Christianity even if he wanted to. The penalty from converting from Islam is death. He's on his own now, dude.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  16. shadii

    U either except Jesus or deny him & if u dont except him then you choose to deny him & 4 that u will have your part in the lake.Look all around and you will see GOD glory what did muhammad did what can he do nothing he has no power all power
    belong to GOD and its better not to have known GOD than to taste his goodness and turn back .You were weak and you allowed your friend to change your belief .GOD will 4give you if you repent and come back to him.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Izzisgirl

      Another religion that says, "If you don't believe as I do, you'll burn in hell for it". Three guesses what the most tolerant religion is . . .

      March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Nick

      It's accept, you dolt – go get an education.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  17. Katie

    *sigh* As soon as I saw the headline, I knew there was going to be yet more of a s**t storm.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  18. Brian

    What a sad, lost man. Remember...this is a religion that is so sure of itself that it KILLS people who convert away from it...

    March 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • FP

      Ahem... we're responsible for The Crusades...

      March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Magilla1968

      take a look at a little something called "the inquisition"...Google it, just for kicks....

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

      @Magilla1968 & FP: The Crusades? The Inquisitions? You need to reach far into the past to condemn Christianity as the equal of Islam TODAY.

      We could speak of what the Christians did to those who followed the religions of Northern Europe as they moved in that direction, the Sacred Groves cut down, the Holy Stones uprooted, the temples burned. And, of course, the slaughter of those who refused to convert. But that is THE PAST, and distant past at that. What Islam does TODAY is far more important than your desire to denigrate Christianity.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  19. jorge washinsen

    I hope who ever put CNN up to posting this story has gotten an eyeful and earful.Remember 9-11- that is what it was about, and self explanatory.If you need more information you are lacking and surely was not a very good student in school.We were not in a war until 9-11.What else needs explaining?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • LAbobcat

      I'm pretty sure you "was" not a very good student in school there, champ.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Ricky Bobby

      Keep drinking the kool-aide.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Myk

      911 has nothing to do with Islam.

      Yes, all terrorists were Muslims but not all Muslims are terrorists.
      Personally, I'm atheist.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • DenverGrl

      Jorge, what do you have to say about the Muslims that died in the 9-11 attacks? They were employees in the building, firemen and first responders that went in to save whomever they could, regardless of creed or color, and did not come out alive. They died protecting us too. Don't hate Muslims, hate the extremism that seems to run through so many religions today. Personally, I am a Jew.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  20. tomjones

    this story is just more propaganda, to get us to be "tolerant" of other religeons. As a country we are already tolerant of other religeons. But when you have a religeon, like islam, that talk about the total literal anihilation of anyone who does not believe as they do, its not a religeon, its a terorist organization. Actually I dont believe in any religeon that has an "all powerful" god who still need humans to kill each other in his name. If he is all powerful and wise why doesnt he just kill them himself.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Devin

      Until you have read the koran, dont call its religion terrorist.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Magilla1968

      You spelled both "religion" and "terrorist" wrong....

      March 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • collins61

      Well said.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Jim T

      Well said in all regards.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • nmvvcc

      Hello ,my dear readers-–B'lack'WhiteHùb.℃óM---it's where to meet black, white, gorgeous, beautiful for romance and enduring relationships ! i love it ! ----– a H'ot place for s'eeking interracial love.which gives you a chance to make your life better and open opportunities for you to meet the at'tractive singles and treat you like a king or Queen. Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • tomjones

      I have read it, cover to cover, as well as the bible, cover to cover. That is why I believe the way I do.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Hassan

      I grew up in a very Muslim family, studied Quran almost everyday, attended mosque everyday, studied the life of Muhammad twice a week. I practiced Islam my whole life I wanted to honor Alla in every possible way, but I was not spritually satisfied untill at the age of 25 I decided to study the Bible and the life of Christ then I found what I was missing my whole life. I didn't convert based on sympathy for the Christians,why my fellow muslims treat them bad, but after along search studing both Bible and the Quran. I can't go into details here about all the doctrines and theologies in both Quran and the Bible. But first I ask you to be knowledgeable in the life of Christ and study Bible with understanding then examine your decision. Let's not make decsion based on Christians and Churchs but rather on God and His word. with my love for you.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • tomjones


      March 25, 2011 at 1:43 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.