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. fundies

    I believe in the power of iCarly.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Silly people


      March 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  2. CanadianD

    What brainwashing, I understand people hit bottoms in life and need someone to turn to, but find a girlfriend or something. Can't you all see you are brainwashed?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  3. In America

    Oh whatever. We are being attacked in this country by Islam. It's a religion bent on domination of the world and people's minds. They've come out and blatently admitted it! Infedels that don't convert and believe will die. Hummmm what example can I use here... Oh I know, Daniel Pearl. I leave that one right there in the middle of the floor for everyone to see. It makes a nice conversation piece. Jesus Please let us find some common sense in this country. Read my f#$*&@# lips! I will NEVER DENY CHRIST. Come and get me! I have a Colt Python and Ruger Super Redhawk waitin on your ass when you bust down my door to take me so don't be surprised if a few of you are vaporized in the process. You want virgins? I dispatch you directly to them if that's your wish. I don't want and DON'T BELIEVE in your religion and I never will.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  4. REG in AZ

    I don't know a whole lot about Islam but much of what I see has the tendency to alienate. Not just with the radicals and the terrorists, although that is very significant, but also in things like how they don't want to translate the Qur'an into any other language from Arabic. There is a whole lot of real effort that goes into not being open and into being isolated. So much of what Islam presents really seems to be all about rigid control, about controlling the people and having them just blindly follow. Now maybe there is merit in having people be devote but I also suspect that complete control offers opportunity for real abuse and, consistent with much of what has already been demonstrated, that can be totally scary (especially with their aggressive recruiting and their political agendas). There is considerable said about Islam as being a peaceful and compassionate religion but actually we need to see that in actions as the words have been mostly empty.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Silly people

      Thank you, and I see what you are saying. Remember originally they didnt want the Bible out of Latin either remember?

      March 25, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  5. Connection

    Mohammed married a 9 year old named Aisha when he was 50-something years old. You can say "this was the fad" in that century and in that area of the world. But if he was truly directed by god how to live his life, it seems like god would have asked him to set a good example for others - breaking with tradition. Isn't that the way of the spiritually enlightened? They usually refuse to take slaves during a time of slavery, they refuse to drink alcohol when everyone else drinks, they refuse to kill people when others go to war.

    But, no, Mohammed was sleeping with a 3rd grader. This doesn't seem so "spiritually enlightened." ??

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

      FY: Many Christian kings did the same; life expectancy was much shorter in those days and once a girl began menstruating she was fair game for marriage and procreation.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  6. bethe123

    @Shabina - Even an ostrich has to take its head out the sand to breath once in a while...No death apostasy huh? Tell that to this guy: http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/11/iran-to-execute-christian-pastor-a-former-muslim-for-apostasy.html

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

    My first message is still not there, after having been displayed. Please do justice and put it back.


    March 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Stefan Radu

      I keep on asking for bringing back my first message and nobody cares. It had a life on display of only a few minutes, while many others are still there after hours.


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

      If you ever want to see Radu'is messages alive...you will send me 5 camels and a ham sandwhich!!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Silly people

      I ate his Ham sandwich 🙁

      March 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  8. Sad

    If you respond to an article such as this with accusations of bigotry and intolerance, in reality you reveal your own.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  9. jim

    There is no greater killer than organized religion. All religions (with the exception of Buddhism) are ignorant, intolerant and oppressive. It is their God that is the best and all others are false. Imagine a world without organized religion and republicans and we would live in a peaceful place.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Reality Check

      You really believe that? People are the one's who mess things up, not God. If there were no religions, people would find other things to fight over.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  10. MikeBell

    What does he think of the women in his life? Where are the women in his video?
    What does he think about those that refuse to be Muslim?
    What will he do when he sees the women and children abused and neglected?
    Will he deceive others in the name of Islam?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  11. BMDPD

    Islam is a religion of peace?!?!? Man, they (Muslims) have you eating that horse doo right out of their hands. Even the American Muslim movement in the civil rights era was violent. If they are such a religion of peace, then why do they start killing one another immediately after we remove their dictators. You guys are nuts! Not too long ago there was a discussion on CNN and they slammed Franklin Graham for telling the truth. The funny part is that the Imam in London slammed the 'Islamic American' woman. He said; 'You are not Muslim, Where is your Burka?' I honestly cannot believe how stupid you people are. Keep watching CNN and believing Islam is a religion of peace............................Idgits!

    March 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Lindsay


      March 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Silly people

      To be honest, of all the articles I read, I have only have seen Christians acting like idiots and being that seriously nasty. Yes, I mean Lindsay, I really doubt that Jesus would let you sit at the table.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Silly people

      Yes Lindsay, I meant your God. No such thing!!! Or any other, grow up and stop punching people for your illusions

      March 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Lindsay

      @Silly- Why are you being so nasty? Don't make things so personal.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Silly people

      One day you will realize when you start downing other groups and saying yours is the only right way you will see you are doing exactly what I just did. Thank you for reacting Lindsay

      March 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  12. john

    Ugly people and mohammad....match made in hell....question why is HAM and MAD in the name muhammad?

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

      I like ham. Ever had it with wasabi mustard?

      March 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Levi Ahmed Roosevelt

      where's the LIKE icon....I like ham too I wanna LIKE ham
      brb making my facebook status say HAMMMMMM (I should try green islam and ham mmmMMMmmmMMMmmmMMMmmm that would be good!)
      Duris is dead R.I.P!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  13. Lindsay

    You cannot be a true Christ follower and then be anything else. Once you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, you cannot sincerely convert to another religion. I don't believe this man was ever a Christian to begin with.

    Also, CNN, could you please be a little more objective with these types of stories? Do you know how many Muslims in the US and around the world (especially in the Middle East), convert to Christ every day? Probably hundreds, if not more. Those stories, are also worth telling. Share the wealth, will ya?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  14. NewsAnalyzer

    To my fellow Christians,

    01. This article/video is about a man who decided to “switch” from a Christian belief system to a Muslim belief system.

    02. Most Christians believe that the core of their belief system is a “1-on-1” relationship with Jesus Christ.

    03. The person in this video did not find that “1-on-1” relationship with Jesus Christ and decided to look elsewhere in Islam.

    04. As you all know, there are about 1.5 Billion Muslims worldwide. About 300 million of these Muslims speak Arabic (Arabs).

    05. In the Islam faith, the core belief is to have a “1-on-1” relationship with “The Creator of everything”.

    06. “The Creator” = God (English) = Allah (Arabic) = Dieu (French) = Dios (Spanish) = Yawee (Hebrew)

    07. In Islam, Jesus Christ is a human being who was given the honourable duty of “Prophet” in order to guide fellow human beings (to justice, enlightenment, etc...).

    08. In Islam, Jesus Christ is a Muslim.

    09. In fact, ALL prophets are Muslim: Abraham + Jesus + Moses + Mohammed + etc...

    10. Here are the ‘Holy Quran’ verses that describe the above statements:

    ........a. (Chapter-3, verse-67):

    “Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a TRUE MUSLIM Hanifa (Monotheism) and he was not of Al-Mushrikun (Polytheism)”

    ........b. (Chapter-22, verse 78):

    “.....the faith of your FATHER ABRAHAM. He hath NAMED you MUSLIMS before….”

    11. ALL human beings, when they are born from ‘day one’, they are born Muslim (including you, the reader of this comment).

    12. Being a Muslim is a very simple concept. It involves these two basic human “instincts”:

    ........a. A Muslim believes in the existence of a CREATOR of everything (every kid in the world asks: Mommy, who CREATED the sky, snow, earth, etc...)

    ........b. A Muslim does a lot of good deeds = Help your family, neighbours, and the sick + give money to charity + share food + promote peace + be fair and moderate in your views and actions + etc... (Every Mom in the world teaches her kid: Share toys, wait your turn, help your friend, etc...)

    13. When you see Muslims around the world doing their “Salat” = “prayer”, they are having their “1-on-1” moment with Allah (a.k.a: Personal relationship with The CREATOR).

    14. The word “Salat” in Arabic is related to/derived from the word “connection, communication, telecommunication, etc..”.

    15. Think of it like this: Salat = 1-800-ALLAH = Free call 24/7 = ‘1-on-1’ = Personal and Confidential Relationship with The Creator.

    16. The person in this article/video, decided to make the Free Call!

    Peace, Love, and Freedom to ALL!

    (Facebook: “Daily NewsAnalyzer”)

    March 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Lindsay

      My dear, you are mistaken. The god of the Koran and the One of the Bible, are not the same being. Have read both? Even from just a literary perspective (no religious view), it is easy to tell that both main characters are not the same. Their characteristics and even their core nature are very different. The God of the Bible is triune-Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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

      I wish what you described here was what the reality was in the world today with respect to Islam. It is not.

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

      you sound quite intelligent, I assume you don't buy any of this crap? God created everything and has a plan bla bla bla works in mysterious ways......never appears, nobody even clergy would believe a sign from god if they saw it....so "God" simply made all and let it go to hell in return, praise and worship....amazing AMAAAAAZING I picture the edge of a cliff, a sweet peaceful man with a glimmer light about him motioning over the cliff, millions and millions of sheep lined up, smiling in aww as they following....tumbling to their deaths....god really does work in mysterious ways... don't he (yawn)

      March 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Lindsay

      @Levi- thanks for the compliment. Yes, I believe this stuff. : )

      What you describe sounds like Satan's MO. That what he does. I believe there is a lot of spiritual warfare going on in the world right now. That is why we need Jesus Christ. Not Mohammad.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Silly people

      Actually, according to the Qur-An you are correct and Lindsey is wrong. It's obvious She has never read either book. However, That doesn't stop both of you from being wrong and I have read both books and many more. There is no God, simply saying so or believing something doesn't make this any more real. It's fine if someone finds something they "believe" they never changed who they where to begin with.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Lindsay

      @Silly- What am I wrong about? The god of each book being different? They are!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • dido

      To NewsAnalyzer

      In reply to what you mentioned in your comments.
      1- Jesus never been Muslim because Islam came into place 600 years after Jesus was born.
      2- All Prophets before yours were not at all Muslims and if they were Muslim they made a big Mistakes to human being because they did not share their believes in your God.
      3- Jesus came as incarnated God to pay off what Adam and Eve caused before in Heaven (Our punishment as a Human being was death= away from GOD= No connection with GOD).
      4-Jesus as God sacrificed himself for all human being (Christian, Muslim, non believers).
      5- Only through him we can go to Heaven not through any body else!!!!!!!!!.
      6- He did not kill / torture or cut off treading for unbelievers like some boy did in Maca/ Madina and all over KSA.
      7- He did not give three options for Guys who do not believe in Christianity Either to be Muslim OR pay high TAXES or Fight with Muslim and defined yourself.
      8- Jesus did not intestate that if you are Christian and changed your religion you must be killed (Muslim Do).
      9-All human being born with SIN….so if they born Muslims= born sinners.
      10- Jew were God’s preferred ppl and from them came Jesus to save the world , He came to save the humanity and to give us the road to heaven by peace not Sword !!!
      11- He promised his followers for better spiritual life in Heaven NOT fleshy human life (Not 72 EVER VIRGIN GIRLS).!!!!!!!!!

      March 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  15. bluesky

    This story does not provide enough information to make an informed conclusion about the reasons for Matthew's conversion. In my opinion the video infers Matthew Miller may have felt he lacked strong, consistent father figure. Islam does provide a very strong fellowship among male worshippers and this may be the reason he feels so drawn to Islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • fundies

      you are my favorite Allman Brothers Band song.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  16. graygurl

    To Steve, the real one. I notice that Christians are always telling the world that they are right and everyone is wrong and are going to burn in hell. Give me a break please. If you have to tell others that you are right and threaten them with eternal damnation if they dont agree, it is time to rethink some things don't you agree?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • fundies

      did you intend your screen name to be gaygurl, but you hit the R key? it's fine with me either way. Just looking for clarity.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • getalife.com

      graygurl, I must say you are an ignorant fool. As human beings, we have the right to believe whatever we want. BUT for you to lump all Christians into one category is idiotic. Do all Muslims bomb planes? Are all Buddhists karate masters? If these things were true, would it be wrong of me to assume you lived in a trailer park? HA! Seriously, get a grip.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Christian = fear, fear, love, fear, damnation, Jesus, fear, hope, fear, damnation, fear, damnation. God God God
      Isam = fear, fear, love, fear, damnation, Mohamed, fear, hope, fear, damnation, fear, damnation. God God God
      Juddahism = fear, fear, love, fear, damnation, Abraham/David, fear, hope, fear, damnation, fear, damnation. God God God

      I think I covered the 3 biggies here.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Steve, the real one


      Believe what you wish! Yes you are right about having to rethink things. here is what I came up woth

      1. How to be a better follower of Christ
      2. How to became a more effective threat to the kingdom of darkness!
      3. To the trained eye and heart, 1 and 2 are the same!

      Believe what you wish!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  17. fundies

    They could do a remake of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" with a muslim.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Tom

      "Guess Who's Getting Suicide-Bombed at Dinner?"

      March 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  18. David

    Is CNN boycotting the story that thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes in Western Ethiopia after Muslim extremists set fire to approximately 50 churches and dozens of Christian's homes?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Stephen

      It's an Africa story that takes place south of Egypt and north of South Africa, so yeah, they're ignoring it.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Marty

      Why would they? That would portray muslims in a bad light. Remember, only Christians are evil in the eyes of cnn.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  19. Keth Y

    Christians don't have the right to bash Islam for extremism, or any religion or group for that matter. If I was a christian, I could set the world on fire, murder thousands of innocent people for giggles, and then just wash my sins away real quick and take the escalator to heaven.
    Whats that? I don't know what I'm talking about and I'm just generalizing everything?
    Congrats, thats what many people here are doing to Islam. Nit pick and selectively grab some quotes to help trash their religion, and everyone will do the same to yours.

    OR, perhaps we can just use common sense and extract the moral/good simple values from these books and stop taking every word so damn seriously. You'll find that most mainstream religions are exactly the same thing, wrapped in something different.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  20. CJ Topspin

    I believe in the purple flying elephant god of peace and sandwiches. I too demand to be recognized.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • fundies

      I bkind of believe in your elephant, but I am partial to toe-cheese eating lavender zebras without hooves and three peenies.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      You are now formally recognized by me and my people: The high priest of the enlightened sheep hearders who wear yellow tunics.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • jay in florida

      So, your god is Horton the elephant who hears a who, and Disney is your prophet. You're officially recognized by me.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:20 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.