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. Murf

    The media already needs to stop spamming this muslim fad trash trying to convince americans that this false moon god of paganism is the way. For there is one mediator between man and god, the messiah jesus christ.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • cindy

      Amen Murf.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  2. fundies

    I have succu-mbed to the dark side of beer, like Guinness.

    (I had to edit this to avoid moderation? ri-god-damn-diculous)

    March 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  3. Alex

    from one falsehood to the next...can't help ignorance!

    March 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  4. Dr. Tickles

    Interesting change over but I know a few from the Nation of Islam who have returned to Christianity. Life is full of changes and many people change their beliefs and ideas numerous times during their life. I no longer believe any organized religion has truth behind them. It's all a bout the money.

    Dr. Tickles

    March 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  5. fundies

    Hey! What kind of fundies are you talking about mister/missy?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  6. Walter

    CNN late breaking news: Some random hipster guy in California converts to Islam.

    How is this news again? Who cares?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  7. Believer in Allah

    I enjoyed the article and what he had to say. People need to get over themselves. This man took time to learn about a religion that society told him was bad. He didn't just listen to what "they" had to say. He learned about Islam for himself. So many people are in religions that they know nothing about. I was christian and converted to Islam last year. I was afraid of muslims and I did not know why. It wasn't until someone challenged me to open my mind that I took time to see Islam for what is really is: Peaceful. It has a beauty that only those with an open heart and mind will see. Islam is not for the weak. It takes a strong person to go against what mommy and daddy taught you to believe. Stop criticizing other people's religion unless you know what you are talking about. I don't mean getting you information from FOX news either. Learn for yourself.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  8. Jerrell

    A white guy converted to Islam. Does this article really saying anything more?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  9. Todd

    “I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but God, I bear witness that Jesus Christ is the son of God!”

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

      Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father. One day EVERY knee will bow and profess Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  10. TiredOfBeingPC

    There are currently more than 1600 mosques in America. Watch out. They will soon gobble you up! You can convert to one of them. But don't you dare convert any one of them! If you do, off with your heads!!

    March 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  11. Jim

    This guy should be executed for treason.

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

      No, you just need more schooling. How bout start back from 1st grade?

      March 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  12. Andrew Simmons

    Muslims believe in Jesus, the same way they believe in Adam, Noah, David, Jacob, Aaron, Abrahm and Muhammad

    March 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • cindy

      If you knew anything about Christianity, you would know there is a big difference, nothing is the same.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Loren

      Actually Cindy there isn't that big of difference. Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability for actions; in God's complete authority over human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace be upon them. But God's final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel.

      Do Islam and Christianity have different origins?

      No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the prophet and patriarch Abraham, and their three prophets are directly descended from his sons Muhammad from the eldest, Ishmael, and Moses and Jesus from Isaac. Abraham established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Ka'ba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  13. fundamentalists smell

    ever notice how fundies have that far away look in their eyes? I can spot one without hearing them utter a word or make a move. They remind me of people who spend a lot of time around horses.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  14. Bob

    This is great! Imagine how many Muslims converting to Christianity cannot go public. In America people can express their religion openly without threat.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • D.

      There is no religious freedom in this country. If there was then you wouldn't have communities trying to block Mosque from being built.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Loren

      Has anyone actually read the Bible? The Torah? No, I think not. Everyone thinks that Muslims are terrorists, because of that 'kill the infidels' thing in the Quran, when in fact, the Torah and the Bible have quotes JUST like this in them. Gosh, people are so STUPID these days. My best friend is a Muslim and not ONCE has she said anything about hating gay people or killing infidels, or killing anyone for that matter and I have known her since I was 5. They're ignorant, arrogant, dumb people with no common sense. People who actually believe this are racists, because the definition of racism is discrimination against a race, right? And a race is any type of categorization of humans, and in this case the category is being a muslim. How can you be so damn thick? Didn't millions of people go through slavery about 150 years ago, then go through about 100 more of hate and discrimination? It's so typical, tarring everyone with the same brush and thinking everything is fine.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  15. Mr Sensitive

    One useless religion for another.

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

      Mr. Sensitive, the "useless" religion of Christianity brought us "forgive one another", "love your enemy", "women are equal before God", "thou shall not lie, murder, commit adultery, steal," etc. Doesn't sound useless to me. What would your ideal world look like?

      March 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • D.

      Women are oppressed in the Bible as well. Changes in society is why women have the freedoms they currently enjoy, not from the Bible. The problem is most of you cherry pick the Bible to make every entry all wonderful. There are parts of the Bible that are disturbing and if today's society followed we would be no different than a Taliban Society who believe they are following the Qur`an the way it was written. Since Jesus Christ never wrote one book of the Bible how are you sure you are following Gods word? The Mormons believe that their religion is true Christianity because Christ spoke to their founders in upstate New York. Is it far fetched to think that Matthew, John, Luke and other contributors to the New Testament made up something to serve society during their time on earth. What about all of the other writings that the church left out of the Bible? What is the truth? We don't know because we weren't there!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • loai

      Mr Sensitive, I think you forgot the ! before your name 🙂

      March 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  16. Sy2502

    I can't care less to which invisible man you pray, but when you subscribe to a religion that actively despises and oppresses women, it tells me volumes about you male insecurities.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  17. joe

    Good for you. Another witness that Christianity is better than Islam. If it was the other way around, he'd be dead by now.

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

      Ummm. Have you read the old testament??

      March 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • loai

      From what sense can it be better. Is it b/c you can experiment as you wish ?? Just rationally thinking, the one that gives you the ultimatum that you can not get out of it and that before you enter it, you should know the consequences of your actions and that if you enter it, you enter it WHOLE and obey its rules better or the one that tells you enter it just for the sake of entering it ????

      March 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  18. marco

    A society that is so opinionated, is not willing to understand the gospel of Christ. As for as this story is concerned, why is this considered news worth writing about? Who's agenda is being expressed?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  19. eze

    At least in Christianity there is freedom; which includes freedom to convert if you choose. In Islam there is no freedom; there is a death penalty for any one that decides to leave islam.
    Jesus Christ came to give us salvation, freedom from sin and death.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • John Sharp

      Actually it wasn't that long ago that Christians killed those that didn't believe. Islam is simply a religion primarily in backward societies.
      Christianity has only evolved slightly because the rest of society evolved and they had to or they would have become extinct.
      If they could they would do the same, and history supports me in this theory.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • tomjones

      There is no freedom in any religion, the muslims kill you if you dont worship the way they do, they even kill each other over HOW they worship muhamed. The christian god gives you a choice, worship me or die and go to hell. Not much of a choice if you ask me.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • loai

      Religion is not a joke. You have the full freedom to think about Islam before entering it. This way you do your utmost into researching what you are getting into. That includes "Death" if you go back out of it. Knowing this, then imagine after this you still enter and you still want to get out of it. Imagine something so darant like this, if you choose to enter me, then there is a harsh consequence if you opt out of it. You have FULL choise so be wise in your decision.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Kate

      That's actually not true, its sad how SO MANY people like you are so ignorant and arrogant with no common sense.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Civilization

      Very true. Other than a short period during the Spanish Inquisition where power crazed Catholics tortured and killed "heretics", Christianity has always been about love, compassion and forgiveness. Islam, from its inception, has been about power, control and conquering. That is how it spreads.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • John Sharp

      Sorry loai, Religion is a joke.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • John Sharp

      A short period during the Spanish Inquisition??
      You left out the crusades. How on earth could you have forgotten this part.
      You forgot all about the time spent when Christians burned witches.....
      A short period, omg... How uninformed you are.

      Christ's teachings were actually about compassion, Unfortunately the same can not be said of his so called followers.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  20. Lee

    From one absurdity to another. Religion is nothing more than a mental virus that is passed from generation to generation. It sustains itself through guilt, by making natural reactions and conditions "sinful", thereby assuring the guilt of all and assuring the futile lifelong dedication to rid ourselves of what is essentially our nature. We will take the next step in human evolution when we throw it off.

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

      You are assuming that there is no such thing as God and no such thing as evil/sin. Religion is simply man's attempt to understand those two concepts. Without God, can you explain the origin of life or the nature of the supernatural?

      March 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • JD

      lol, religion is basically a tool used by stupid people who don't want to take responsiblity for their choices and actions. Either way why are they running pointless articles again. This ch ristian converts to islam, everyone celebrates, if it was a muslim converting to christianity everyone want that person dead. Religion just causes problems because the people who follow them are stupid to begin with.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • kytrex

      here, here!!!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Chris K

      Unless of course the next phase of human evolutiion is the transcendance from physical to spiritual. If that is the case then we are shooting our self in the foot.

      But this statement seems to highlight a near relligious faith that some athiests have in Evolution (mind you I said SOME). That somehow future generations will be improved upon by evolutionary forces and that Humans will then be one step closer towards their destiny as Masters of the Universe.

      Through all of our progress in Civilization, are we really any better off than our ancestors? If so, what is your criteria for better? Are we happier because of indoor plumbing? Do we have more emotional peace because science has allowed us to die later rather than sooner?

      I hear people say that the more you have the more you spend. We learn to be just as miserable with a lot, as we were with a little. I think the same thing can be said about the progress of humanity. Maybe we will have bigger brains, stronger bodies. Maybe we will be able to fight off illness better, and live almost indfefintely. But unless we evolve to be happier and more peaceful, then what else really matters?

      If you believe that the end of religion will also mean a world with less guilt, I think you will discover that humans will be able to find secular reasons for you to feel just as guilty.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Chris K

      LOL JD,
      Yes all people who think are stupid.
      When you attack stupid people by using sweeping generalizations, you have committed intellectual suicide.

      Nice Glass House!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • loai

      ALL who are in this threat and claiming to be experts on religion CAN U PLEASE READ A COPY OF THE QURAN first.
      If you find that it cannot be coming from God the creator, then feel free to criticize Islam as you wish. Just don't criticise based on no foundation. JUST read the book first. If this book comes close to anything that you had ever seen in your life then my apologies in advance for wasting your time but READ it FIRST.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • loai

      John. Sometimes we think something is a "JOKE" till we learn more about it. Can you please read the QURAN (just the first 10 pages), then if you find a joke please let me know and we can crack together "seriously"

      March 25, 2011 at 2:51 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.