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. Harman

    Should be stone him to death or behead him for converting to Islam? Better yet, why not give him 10 years in prison? Well, that's what I read on CNN Muslims do to other Muslims for converting to other religions. Wish him the best.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  2. Only1Voice

    i've missed the CNN.com stories about Muslims who change to Christianity and suffer for it (like in the new country that broke away from The Sudan. Where are those? Or is CNN.com just continuing to bash Christianity in general?

    March 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  3. Sarah

    My family is Antiochian Orthodox Christian (the earliest organized form of Christianity formed in Antioch within a century after the death of Christ). My grandparents immigrated from Damascus to escape Muslim oppression and my family who remains in Syria continues to be persecuted by Muslims. I read fluent classiscal Arabic; and, yes, I have read the Koran. My question to the convert (in light of the conversation he recounts with the veteran) is: do you really know Islam, or do you just know the sanitized version that you have been told by your friends (ya know, the one where Islam is all about peace and respect for women, etc.). Quite honestly, I have to question the humanity of anyone who has actually read the Koran in classical Arabic who isn't completely repulsed by Mohammed and his religion.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  4. Jib Jab

    My made up friend is better than your made up friend. Lets fight about it...

    March 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Huh?

      You have proof this friend does not exist? Please, enlighten us with scientific fact...

      March 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • fundies

      I consider Job Jab my made-up friend. He will jih*d all your a sses.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  5. DesertRose

    Caldwell, Jesus never asked His followers to kill those who do not accept His message..He asked His followers to be gracious to them where as Mohamed killed those who did not follow him and thats the difference..we can no way use the Bible to support violence..where as it is quite the opposite when it comes to Islam

    March 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Judy

      Um, have you read the Bible? Or the Koran? Why don't you try that MIss Desert Rose, before you speak? Else, you sound rather un-edu-macated!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  6. kasssho

    Anyone who refuses to allow someone to have a belief other than thir own can suck a tail pipe all day long. And watch fox news

    March 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Huh?

      Should we tolerate the beliefs of nazis? Just wondering where you draw the line. This is usually when a liberal starts to have a meltdown.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  7. tuchlu

    Christian to Muslim: A change of faith VIDEO


    March 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  8. Huh?

    Attention seeker. He'll change his position when he grows up.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  9. sam

    why don't u ppl try to understand Hinduism then you can achieve unity in diversity like in 90 % of india

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

      I think I would like any religion with a "hind" in it.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  10. Athena

    Basics: Anything you need to know to be guided is in the Bible, Not because someone told me, just because I did my work and I read it and I understand, that is why is called the word of God (no matter who wrote it, what books were chosen, how many translations) The way to God is thru is Son Jesus, He came before Islam 600 years before that was the divine plan to alert us (sounds familiar- for those who really understand open your heart and you should find the truth). In the time He was on earth He taught us and warned us of what was to come: False prophets, many antichrist you will know by their fruits, their results. if you come to know the Father the Creator, The thru God you will understand, for those who still seek, that is good ..my advice pray honestly and ask from the helper the Holly Spirit for true guidance. In regards to the comments about the Scientist converting to Islam...due to all the knowledge parallel they see in the Quoram..wasn't the wanting to know like God what separated us from him in the first place we had everything we ever needed, but we wanted to be like him and now with all the advancements we had created a huge mess!! So what is so fascinating about that? It is all of the same.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  11. aizen

    all religions are bad..just like bad odours, they are known all over the world but noone likes them...waste of time, energy and intelligence..

    March 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  12. crosby_33

    Did anyone else notice that he looks just like Jesus?

    March 25, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Jack

      What does Jesus look like? No one knows what he looks like...

      March 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  13. Prasad

    Billy Connolly: "You had 2000 years and you F*%&ed up. Now F*%& OFF"

    March 25, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  14. Rob

    It would be interesting to find out why this persons beleives that they were Christian in the first place. Growing up in America does not mean you are Christian although many in the Muslim world take this view. America is not Christian – people that follow Christ are. Persons that grow up in a "Christian" home are not automatically Christian. Reading between the lines and judging from the reaction of Mathhew's mother I think it safe to assume that Mathhew was not a Christ follower to begin with.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  15. SpiderCNN

    As a religion Islam makes more sense than Christianity or Jewdaism. Many of us either don't have knowledge of Islam and many of those who study it we do not want to admit it. People like you and Dr. jeffery Lang are inspirational to us all.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Huh?

      Virgins in the afterlife if you martyr yourself makes sense? Interesting.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  16. Bill

    Wow, there was no other worthy news.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  17. Don

    To Mr. Miller,

    Congratulations on your conversion.

    Now, please leave the USA and join your brethren in Gaza.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Judy

      To Mr. Don,

      Why don't YOU leave? Don't you have a Klan meeting to get to?

      March 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  18. Lindsay

    @Silly- My way, is not right way. The way of Jesus Christ is. That is who I follow. I am imperfect, and He is LORD. This entire article is about the propping up one religion. I am not-hatefully presenting another view. You don't have to like it, but I have every right. You, are the one reacting. You engaged me.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  19. cary lacayo

    prism, I agree and that's why I said he really never understood Christianity...It is very sad..

    March 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  20. David Caldwell

    bethe123 You wrote:
    The demonization of Islam is based on the evil acts of its folloowers in the world, and the Quran and Hadith which supports these acts.If you want us to break it down for you we can do so quite easily."

    again this is my point. If someone claims to be a Muslim but they commit atrocities that are heretical to islam they are not a Muslim. the same would apply to Christianity. There are violent passages in the Bible that people who claimed to be Christians have used to commit atrocities in the name of God. Do they represent true christianity? of course not. Neither do those who do the same sort of things in the name of Islam. That was my point.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • joe800

      ...the point your missing is that the muslim atrocities are being committed in concert with others, as a group, and recruited by clerics whereas a psychopath who quotes bible scripture before shooting up a post office is very different. Groups of christians arent launching rockets in israel. groups of christians arent kidnapping people in the philippines, groups of christians arent hijacking airplanes, groups of christians are recruiting, building bombs and then sending a person to murder innocents and themselves, thats a uniquely muslim thing......we cant hold christian's as a whole liable for the acts of single actors, but we CAN hold islam responsible as a whole when the supply of suicide bombers seems endless, the supply of bombs endless and the money that goes with those acts....these bombers and radicals arent invisible in their neighborhoods, so if peaceful muslims see these people and know they're up to no good, then they are giving their approval in their silence...

      March 25, 2011 at 2:20 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.