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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. charles

    It's a fact 10% of Muslims consider themselves extremists. There are 1 billion Muslims on the earth so that equals 100 million radical Muslims. Don't think this is a problem for non-muslims? Think again. Right now in Africa Muslims are burning churches and slaughtering its members. This is the problem....Muslims want equal right but are not willing to reciprocate.

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

      Do you have the surveys? I would love to see them 🙂

      March 25, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  2. SDFrankie

    II used to worship the Tooth Fairy. But now I see that I was misguided and it's the leprechauns that have the true answer o everything. I don't know how I could have been so misguided. Just glad I got it all straight.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  3. fundies

    Jesus is my co-pilot and I plant to drive like hell.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  4. PiddlyD

    Someone above said that most Americans do not realize the remarkable similarity between Christianity and Islam. I don't believe this. Christians certainly know of the shared roots, and many evangelicals would claim that the rise of Islam is a sign of the rise of false prophets and false churches saying they're part of the Christian faith rising in the end times. The rest of us, secular society, understand the similarity, and think it is ALL dangerous – and see this as an example of someone who couldn't find enough of *whatever* (perhaps it is the exotic quality, the deeper religious fervor, or some other element that makes Islam more attractive to the guy in this story) in contemporary American Christianity. It doesn't make him MORE accessible, it doesn't normalize Islam. It makes it more unsettling. The guy who wants a religious experience "more meaningful" than going to the local suburban Church every Sunday *is* the guy more likely to end up in Afghanistan training at a Taliban camp. He is searching for something more "REAL", less "shallow" – and guys like that often have to search pretty deep until they feel fulfilled.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  5. Al

    Look–all religions are just a classification of the one big point that monotheistic faiths can agree: There's one God and to do the right thing. All the rest is just secondary information to get people either riled up, argumentative, combative and egotistical. So if you stopped saying things like "we're the last religion" or "we're the chosen ones" "or you better believe in Jesus or you're going to hell" everyone would have a grand old time with one another and not worry about things that are so inconsequential.

    Furthermore, if you believe in God do you think He's going to like you if you're a good moral person, or some brute thug that enforces his religion on people or condescends you because his articles of faith, according to him, are better than yours?

    The fact is that the tolerance game doesnt work. Too many people, as demonstrated on this board and in the world, either are bias or prejudice towards a religious demographic or the religion itself. And this stems from religious conflict. When a Christian kills a Christian its considered sad and sympathetic. When a Muslim kills a Christian, it becomes some holy war. i say just start a new religion without the filler semantics and differences and keep it to its simplest form, which is to love the Big Guy above.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  6. Johnnyb52

    Am I right in thinking that CNN went out and found one American who called himself a Christian, but now follows the teachings of Mohammad ( who is now dead) and that equates to a conversion from Christianity to Islam? Horrible journalism and horrible story. How much did you this guy? This was s story concocted only to get a reaction among some Muslims and some Christians, the rest are wannabees and don't wannabees. CNN is an instigater and thrives off of people hating each other all for ratings/money but no surprise of course.

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

      AGREED!!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  7. Jesus of Nazareth

    I give this guy six months before he converts to Dynanetics.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  8. Vega

    You religious nuts are some of the most disgusting people on the planet. Especially among the Christians. It's people like ya'll that made me keep my distance from the church. Because all I saw was the same thing. Fat, Hypocritical, Self-Important, and hateful idiots, who have no qualms throwing their beliefs in other peoples face. Yet they don't even know half the crap they spew. Only preaching the pretty words that are convenient for them.

    You people are the reason that christians numbers fall. And the only difference between you, and the extremist muslims, is that you live in a much cushier lifestyle. When faced with any real adversity, you'll become just as depraved as the extremist muslims who pervert their faith.

    All of you people who are preach hate, and ill will against your fellow man, regardless of faith. I guarantee that you lot will be the first people dropped kicked to hell. And that's only "IF" everything you believe is true.

    I believe in the God that taught me, and raised me to believe that all men and women, regardless of faith. Are deserving of being treated like human beings. I believe in helping to guide people, or at the very least, converse with others of different faiths, in order to understand them. It is not mine or anyone elses place to judge them. And if you actually read your damn bibles, you'd realize that. Or maybe you did, and just skipped the parts that didn't fit your hate retoric.

    I hope some of you people realize the path you're taking before it's too late. Disgusting excuses for "christians".

    March 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      American Christian = American Taliban

      March 25, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • godmund

      Breathe dude. Its gonna be ok. Stop worrying about how crappy other people are and focus on making yourself better. Thats the only power any of us really has.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Amused

      I would say that it wasn't Christians that gave you that opinion, but rather your preconceived notions about them. Obviously, your view of their "hate retoric" doesn't bother you too much being that your post was full of the same thing.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Vega

      Very true Amused, there is plenty of hate with what I said. But here's the difference. I don't turn around and act like I'm a shinning beacon of decency after the fact. I know my flaws, and I know my weaknesses. And everyday I work to better myself. I don't try to be two faced with my faith, and how I go about it. Nothing in anything I said, says that I follow everythign I believe to a T. I try, and I slip, like just now.

      Bigotry sickens me, Blind hatred sickens me, Damning an entire race of people because of the fringe elements of a few...SICKENS ME. If that were the case, then I might as well start hunting down christians for the actiosn of Westboro, or any christian that so much as made someone feel mildly uncomfortable.

      So yes "amused", ya got me, and I'm sure you have so silly smug look on your face. I take comfort in the fact that what I'm saying has good intentions behind it, that I do care for people in general. Even the sick people who continue to perver the religion they so viciously champion.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  9. fundies

    people = sheep = lamb chops = good tasting = beer

    There you have it. People equal beer and they taste good.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  10. Connection

    People make excuses for people's behavior. Jesus ate animals, Mohammed married a 3rd-grader named Aisha. It doesn't matter if these people say "God told them to do this," lets just look at these people for who they were. They were human. Lets not deify them.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  11. fundies

    Maybe Jesus was too expensive of a health insurance and he switched to Allah to save a few bucks. It's the same coverage, after all.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  12. Tim Norman

    Now I wait for when they will tell of the tens of thousands who have converted from Islam to Christianity. Or when they will write how NO Muslim country allows their Muslims to convert to Christianity. Even the ones we consider allies. Why?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • TiredOfBeingPC

      Well stated. News reports by the liberal media always cast a negative light on Christians and always placate to the Muslims. So VERY BIASED and UNFAIR reporting. Every time I read such reports, it reinforces my distrust of the main stream media.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Eyes Open

      As an atheist, I still can't ignore three things regarding Islam. The first is Islam's consistent oppression (often violent) of Christians, non Christians and members of minority Islamic sects. The second is the integral link between orthodox Islamic theology and violence. The third is the puzzling posture of CNN toward Islam. CNN never seems to miss an opportunity to white wash Islamic extremism and violence, and always seeks to present Islam is a positive light.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  13. the_dude

    This guy in the story obviously has some major issues. He turns from Christianity yet he has a haircut and beard like jesus. He has that weird "liberal" look. Beady eyes like a rat. I would bet he would change religions as many times as possible if he keeps getting attention like this.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  14. jgonz1128

    From truth to a lie!

    March 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  15. Frank

    Be a little open minded guys. If he's happy, then he's happy. Who cares?
    People need to stop thinking that anyone who is Muslim is a terrorist.
    I've had my problems with non-Christians, but I've had my share of problems WITH Christians.
    We're all people in the end. Why use your time to hate and judge, when Jesus teaches us not to?
    Why hide behind your words? Why say you're a Christian when you don't even act like one?
    I have Christian and non-Christian friends, and I am an Atheist, yet we all get along. Why can't YOU?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Connection

      I'm glad he's happy. I'm just wondering if he really has done research about his new religion. Does he care if 50-year-old Mohammed slept with a 9-year-old? To some people, this is unimportant. To others, this would disturb them. It is important to be analytical and to realize what sort of people founded these mass religions.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Frank

      Think about it this way though, back in the 1800s and earlier, wives were taken as early as 12. It's not far fetched to see a 9 year old then either. What is acceptable today, is much different than it was a thousand years ago.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Annie

      Frank, justifying 50-year-old Mohammed marrying a 3rd grader? No, not everyone does it. Before the 1860's, how many families refused to own slaves because they sensed it was morally wrong? Sure, it was a fad, but there were quite a few people who refused to take part in slavery.

      Same goes with sleeping with kiddies. They weren't forced into it. They had a choice.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  16. Bob S.

    Hey CNN; What about reporting all of the converts to Christianity from the Islam faith? The price that they have to pay (criminal charges, ousted from their family and community, etc.) in order to make the choice to follow the living messiah Jesus instead of a dead man named Mohammed.

    Only one conquered death,
    only one is worthy to pay the price for sins
    only one will speak, and all the people who ever lived will be raised again
    only one is whom we will all stand before and be judged,
    only one is whom through all things were made, and all things consist
    only one is whom all of heaven and earth will bow the knee and confess... JESUS IS LORD!

    His Name is Jesus, his blood is the most precious and powerful substance the world has ever seen, and his return is imminent.

    Despite all of the controversy, He can be found easily, and is willing and able to forgive and cleanse

    March 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • John Sharp

      His blood is the most powerful substance the world has ever seen???
      You left out the talking snake, the man living in the whale, the dead arising, etc....
      Silly Silly Man....

      March 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Jack

      Jesus is alive?
      YOU'VE SEEN HIM?
      WHERE?!?!?!?!
      Must... go...now...

      March 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • lolatreligion

      Last time I checked, Jesus was pretty dead himself.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • CACtrue

      I love your boldness and don't let that passion go! Amen.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Mikey

      Christians have been under the impression that Jesus's second coming was going to happen on their watch for almost two thousand years. Even authors of the Bible believed Jesus was going to come back while they are still alive. It's sad really, people's solipsism.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • jgonz1128

      Very true. excellent point. You know, just becuase we confess that we are a christian does't make us a christian! If he really knew christ as his lord and savior, he would have never made a coice to convert., we have the holy spirit the reveals the truth and thuth shall set us free.
      NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT THROUGH ME (JESUS)

      March 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Mark

      Amen, Hallelujah !

      I do believe all souls and the lives shall stand before God without exception, and shall confess to the Lord
      on the day. Jesus is the focus of our salvation in this sin driven world. No other name was given by our God..

      March 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • David Caldwell

      Bobs,
      the way you have described Jesus is what Muslims believe. Muslims believe Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, is the messiah, performed miracles, is the light of god and the word of god. Muslims do not in anyway worship Muhammad. This is a big misconception. Muslims worship God not muhammad. They worship the god of moses, abraham, noah and jesus. The same god.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  17. SpagettiMonster

    Do people still care about these things? I thought religion is going to extinct soon, churches and mosques are as empty as it gets, hahaha They have turned to facebook for advertising, doesn't it ring the bell that they are struggling too much? It seems to me like last few cold winter days in mid-west, and when they are over it is 75 degrees and hot ladies are sun bathing on every possible spot they can find! Say bye to crappy idea of religion, it is a very old concept and is about to be extinct! Quite pleasing to me though =D

    March 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • G

      You should know that its only in America that the churches are "empty". You go to places like China, India and other places around the world and the Christian faith/church population is exploding! So Go God!!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • It's all Pretend!

      Dude...are you kidding me3??

      There are people out there who take this stuff very VERY seriously!
      They're very dependent on their Beliefs that their God or whoever Ancestor-Hero
      is gonna save them from the fate we all face, six feet down.

      Many people CANNOT HANDLE THE PROSPECT OF DEATH
      and religions are all about Death Avoidance.
      The promise of a magical afterlife is somehow hugely comforting
      to the point where people will spend their whole lives wrapper around these quaint coping mechanisms
      and then of course there are those who cater to these silly fears, and make a tonna money outa the suckers!
      Isn't life wonderful?
      Isn't Mankind still so deliciously BACKWARD? LOL

      March 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Rob

      SpagettiMonster
      When was the last time you were in a church. The Bible believing church that I attend is experiencing amazing growth and people are hungry to hear God's Word. You should get out more.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  18. Eric

    From one deity worship to another. Sounds like co-dependency to me.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  19. fundies

    fundies 1:31 "I have seen the case of beer, and it tis good."

    March 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  20. Islam Bob

    My god is better than your god.... Oh wait.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • It's all Pretend!

      What?!
      Your Tooth Fairy is better than my Easter Bunny? -NEVER!!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      My Zues is bigger

      March 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • John B

      Santa is the greatest.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:47 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.