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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. Stefan Radu

    Isabel,

    the Bible says nothing about an unconditional forgiveness. Read 1 John 1:9, Prov 28:13 and many other texts. There is no forgiveness without confessing the sins and forsaking them.

    Stefan

    March 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  2. Sybaris

    Miller is just trading one set of delusional beliefs and practices for another.

    Grow up.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  3. Frankly Speaking..

    Out of 37 pages, about 33 shine with ignorance..Islam is the submission of will to the creator of heavens and the earth for a surplus reward in this world and everlasting afterlife..Peace be unto all of you

    March 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  4. JohnR

    So he turned in his blue and orange wig and put on a red and green one. Great, but clowns are still clowns. Exchanging one silly myth for another isn't exactly growth, but if it floats this guy's boat, whatever. He's free to choose and free to lose.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  5. Ethan Hunt

    Thank you CNN for monolithic views that cater to the experiential relativism of liberal belief structures. Might as well change this article to 'Christians: Not Welcome...'

    March 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  6. Grace

    For another perspective on this whole topic, I'd encourage anyone of any faith (or lack thereof) to read Mosab Yousef's "Son of Hamas". It's a fascinating story about the author who grew up a Muslim, the son of a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He studied Quran from a young age and sacrificed much for the cause. Later in life, he converted to Christianity and currently lives in exile. This book is a very informative read from a very unique perspective.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Levi Ahmed Roosevelt

      huh!...I thought Jimmy Carter wrote that book?? (kidding aside I will read it, don't push me!!..{i'll dooo it!}

      March 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  7. James

    I would not follow any man's religion if he made a 9-year-old his wife when he was 50 years old. You can say it was normal for that century in that area of the world, but sleeping with a 3rd grader is wrong. Other areas of the world ALSO considered it wrong at that time. If his life was truly "dictated by God," then you are saying that God promotes pedophilia for "certain times" and in "certain areas." Come on.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  8. Maury

    He obviously NEVER had a personal relationship with the true creator and savior of mankind, the Lord JesuChrist.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  9. cl78

    There is only one god and that is Allah. If you do not worship Allah, you are an infidel and should be put to death. You want these murderers near you? Ban Islam!

    March 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  10. Stefan Radu

    Why was my polite message removed shortly after it was displayed? All others are still there. What is the problem? My name?

    Stefan

    March 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Levi Ahmed Roosevelt

      I liked the name Stefan, sounds seksay to me 😉

      March 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  11. fundies

    I believe in the power of cabbage to give me gas.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • fundies

      Asparagus makes my p smell like burnt rubber.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  12. Tony

    Many will say they are a Christian but are they really adhering to the doctrines of Christ. Are they really living a devoted life in Christ? It sounded to me as if it was a nominal believer at best who attendd church maybe once a week or on occassion but never really was a devoted christian.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  13. Brett

    Jesus Christ is Lord and God. This man has been deceived by the evil one. How can one who knew the truth turn so easily to a false religion? "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Matthew 24:24.
    The Holy Trinity is God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and the three are One. There is no other God. God is not who we want Him to be, He is who He is. satan is running amuck and decieiving all those who willingly accept the untruth. Jesus loves you and wants you to be with Him forever but you must accept His love and His mmaculate gift of life. He died for each one of us – to atone for the sins of the world. No other blood could do it. It had to be God's blood.

    "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that who ever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

    March 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Janet

      I couldn't have said it better. Jesus is the only way, the only truth & the only life. I have to wonder about his mother's reaction..."whatever makes him happy" I wouldn't tell my child that if he walked away from Jesus.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  14. James

    I wonder if CNN will cover it when he finally realizes that Muhammed was teaching violence? Islam was born of the sword. The scary thing is that they actually have retarded liberals brainwashed into thinking it's a better choice than having Christianity around them as the predominant religion. I can't wait to see liberal women in burqas with bruises all over their backs from not listening to their muslim husbands. Wake up people! Islam is not a religion of peace. Here's the question you must ask: what would Muhammed do? I'll tell you what he'd do. He wouldn't pat you on the back and love you in your sins. He'd slaughter you.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Jay H

      Do you think what you wrote makes you sound smart?

      March 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Alex

      And Judhaism from Chrisitianity was born was also born of the sword. Go back and read Exodus, what was the first thing the Hebrews did after being in the desert for 40 years? Thats right INVADE.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • James

      Stop judging other religions...

      I am a devout Latter-Day Saint. One of our chief beliefs is that God grants all men free agency, particularly in the freedom to worship as one chooses.

      This young man has searched his heart and found that Islam satisfies his spiritual hunger. I say all power to him.

      I have had the privilege to know several Muslims over the past years and have admired the manner in which sincerely devout Muslims live their lives. The beauty of Islam is its adherence to the idea that God is all powerful... and that man must "submit" to His way. In fact the word Muslim means one who submits to God.

      I believe in the teachings of my religion, but admire this teaching among Muslims... That God is all powerful... and that we must all submit to Him.

      In regards to terrorism... There is a history of terrorism in Christianity too. Such a history does not cause me to doubt my belief in Christ as my savior and redeemer. The beauty of Christian teaching is that God loved man so much that he chose to offer a sacrifice for our redemption, and that even I, a man who has failed and flawed in character many times, might be redeemed by God gives me hope... and a desire to live a better life.

      I believe that God hears all prayers... and that this young man's prayers are being heard by our Loving God...

      March 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  15. Trader John

    I subscribe to the ancient aliens theory. We are results of a high school science fair project of some long gone extraterrestrial.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  16. SlimShady

    Oh, I did not think God required his prophets to follow fads! I didn't know God directed his prophets to sleep with 3rd graders because it was the fad. I kinda expected God to teach the prophet to live by a moral code, no matter the culture or the century.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Alex

      And I did not expect God to require blood scarifice and crucifixion in order to forgive mankind for all their sins.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  17. Tom

    Christian to Muslim? Wow. From the frying pan into the fire.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • jim

      That's hilarious.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  18. achipotle

    I can relate...when I went from being a Tooth Fairiest to being an Easter Bunnian, friends and family rejected me.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  19. fundies

    I declared jih*d on the air within my office. My jih*d is strong today my friends.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Tom

      I think I j*haded in my pants.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • fundies

      I declared jih*d on my italian hoagie. The haogie was overwhelmed by my jih*d.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  20. pointless1

    I chose to believe in myself. It worked out really well for me and my family. Believe in what you want and exist peacefully with those around you.... pretty simple... hard to maintain...

    March 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Alert citizen

      I agree with you 200%. The problem in the current world is everyone wants others to follow them...........Just cut it out and be happy with whoever you believe in...........the argument my religion is better than yours is immature, imptotent and worthy of some a** whooping!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:19 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.