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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. tuchlu

    Watch This Video Christian to Muslim: A change of faith

    http://bit.ly/g5vG8f

    March 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  2. mike

    Poor bitter atheist. Why so upset about something you don't even believe in? Hope you all enjoy your Islamic conversion then you will miss Christianity all and its problem people.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  3. Steve Smith

    God full filled His promise to Abraham through Issac (Jesus' lineage) NOT Ishmael (Muhammad's lineage). This is the reason for the animosity between these two peoples. Yeshua (Jesus the Christ) is the fullfillment of ALL Old Testiment messianic prophesies.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Joe

      Orthodox religion is meant to do ONE thing, control you.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  4. Jen

    Disgusting

    March 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  5. Barnacle Bill

    brilliant!

    He went from dumb to dumber!

    March 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Yemen

      noope, he went from a nonbeliever to a believer
      he also went from being told lies to the truth

      March 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • fundies

      what was all that one in a million stuff? so you're saying I got a chance?

      March 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  6. clodlava

    There is no such thing as change of faith. Either you are christian or you never were.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  7. Michael

    Why does one's belief or disbelief in a thing have to make you feel insecure about yours? People, I must remind you that this very discussion has been solved already and is one of the founding principles of our nation: Freedom of religion. This means freedom to express and believe in whatever god you will, should you choose to do so, so long as it doesn't disturb the freedoms of others. Why are we trying to repeat history? Be satisfied with your own beliefs and allow others to have theirs. The problem in our country on this matter is not religion itself but the two extremes of the theological spectrum: evangelical theocrats who will not let others have their own belief and religious persecutors who in effect do the same. What rights have not been explicitly forfeit, let not government take away. Let us not continue this vain effort to rediscover our founding principles and let our coming generations move on to solve more of humanities problems.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  8. Heather

    Most of you exemplify why I hate Christians. Vapid, brainwashed, idiots who worship a man who was the embodiment of love and selfless giving, but completely doing the opposite. Talking out of your dumb fat Mid-western asses about a religion and concept that you know nothing about. You probably don't even understand or have your own unique ideas about your own religion, just swallowing the interpretation that your cousin-breeding pastor tells you is true. Islam is a growing religion. Deal with it. It's no better and no worse than your own. And if you think so, maybe you should spend less time opening your mouth to show how big and empty your head is, and try actually reading history and developing your own critical thinking about history, politics, religion and truth. Because, unfortunately, those are concepts that open the path to acceptance and understanding, something that is completely foreign to most of you.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  9. Jon

    Why is this on the front page of CNN? How is this news worthy? Is this a news organization or a propaganda machine?

    March 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  10. wookin pa nub

    choopa choppa

    March 25, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • fundies

      choppa choopa

      March 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  11. Chut Pata

    There are people who are disgusted with their establishment. They hate their materialistic religion, their corporate bankrolled politicians, their corporate owned media, the corporate marketted culture. When they look for alternate life style, the first thing that catches their attention these days is Islamophobia. They get interested and then some of them get converted. No different than people converting to Hinduism via Hari Krishna during the Vietnam War.

    Islamophobia is Manna From Heaven for Moslem missionaries, not to mention how Al-Qaeida uses it for their fear mongering.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  12. DesertRose

    @scholar, do not look at the Bible with 21 st century gentile outlook..The phrase 'Son of Man' for a 1st century jew meant Messiah (the anointed one) and it id direct from the book of Daniel in the old testment

    March 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  13. Steve

    Really, you do a story on a Christians journey to Islam? Perhaps he got a little ridicule from his other christian friends.

    But do a story on a Muslim's journey to the faith of our Jewish Messiah and you will see the testimony of one who will be hunted down and killed by other Muslims because that IS their law and their retribution for leaving the Islamic religion. I dare you to do a story of someone who is willing to publicly tell the world that they were once Muslim and are now a believer in our Messiah. I doubt you'll be able to find anyone who is willing to live out their lives in fear.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Non practicing Christian

      That is so true!!!!!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Illuminous

      Steve, it's sad to see all the hatred in your words. This story is about this young man's journey to Islam, and he is not alone: it's a growing trend in America for Islam is the fastest growing religion world-wide. These people aren't converting by the sword, but by faith, and love.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • sample

      well well well steve.. i can sense the IGNORANTS in ur way of thinking,, point out where YOU'VE SEEN A CONVERTED MUSLIM TO XTIAN.. EXECUTED? GO ON YOU THERE IS A LOT "VIDEOS OF MUSLIMS WHO VE BECOME XTIANS N STILL LIVING THEIR LIVES..N DEBATING AGAINST OTHER MUSLIMS,, IS PEOPLE LIKE WHO HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT ISLAM N YET SPREAD FALSEHOOD ABOUT IT.,, I DOUBT IF U VE A LIFE

      March 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  14. Anna

    I believe that Mr. Miller does have freedom of speech. But with that being said until the end of the Earth is here no one will know what the true GOD is. There is always doubt with people that don't have the true faith in their heart for JESUS. I'am a Christian and I do believe that Jesus is my Lord and Savior and will be saved. But Mr. Miller can't believe in something all his life like Jesus and then just think in his mind and belief that he just goes away and he never will think about Jesus again. That is like not believing in Santa Claus... It just doesn't make sense. I feel for his mother for being a Christian and now her son turned towards Muslim faith. I know I want to see my family in Heaven where internal life lives on forever in the joy of the LORD. Mr. Miller needs to dig deep down into what happened in his life to make him feel this way to think he has a GOD that is nothing but false hope and war as we are going through with all the middle eastern countries. Jesus and GOD are love, hope faith and righteous with nothing but love. This is the true GOD that made the WORLD that you live in Mr Miller and the one that also made you!!!!!! You need to think abou that and not let everyone around you to change your thoughts and what you were taught when growing up... Think about it!!!!!!!!!!

    March 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Illuminous

      Anna, Muslims believe in Jesus. Islam teaches that he was a righteous prophet of God, whose coming was prophesied in the Torah (Old Testament). Islam is a monotheistic religion in its literal sense – there's no God BUT God, and he is merciful and loving.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  15. Uncle Beasley

    Once he decided that Christianity wasn't for him, he should have stopped right there.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  16. Monica6

    I enjoyed this story because I'm going thru the same thing. I was raised questions but have questions about the bible since elementary school, and like this guy I'm 30 too. While I believe in the fundamentals of the bible, but I'm opened minded and one major thing I noticed between christians and muslim, the holy bible and the quran is that christianity TELL you what is believed as truth, a take it or leave it kind of stance, and the muslim religion tries to guide you to the truth or what to believe it's more free thinking. So it appeals to me. Not saying I'm going to convert but ppl who know nothing about the religion should not be quick to judge the worse of it when it not as extreme as they think or have been lead to believe. You know, for a religion were it's followers are asked not to judge others, based on my experience christians judge and are quick to assume more than any other group of ppl I've every met, like just threw the 10 commandments out. NOT ALL CHRISTIANS, but so many so-called christians that I know personally. My muslim friends aren't like that, not one.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Ahmadur

      Allah or GOD promised if you look for him, he will guide you towards him.If you don't, you are on your won but he will still mercy you.He doesn't guide you when you look for him, then he can't be GOD.I hope you will find your truth.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • October10s

      Islam is more "free thinking?" Are you serious? I have never seen such a bunch of devout conformists in my life. Not only do they think the same things, they wear the exact same clothes and are absolutely OBSESSED with how pious they appear to each other. Islamic women wear viels, some that cover their entire faces, so that they can appear holy. The whole point is to be absolutely no different than anyone else. No religion on earth has less of a sense of humor about itself than Islam. Not only does it not tolerate dissention of any sort (they call it apostacy), but the punishment is death. When was the last time a Christian leader issued a fatwa to have a comedian or satirist killed because of a slam on Christianity? Dude, you need to have your head checked and STOP driking the cool aid. Islam may be a lot of things, but "free thinking" is absolutely not one of them.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • sample

      if u wanna kno much about islam,,, or it interest you in any way to add up to your knowledge,,add me on facebook.. im not here to revert u( preferred to convert) but to enlightened one another..

      March 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Illuminous

      @October10s

      "History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths
      that historians have ever repeated." De Lacy O'Leary

      "It (Islam) replaced monkishness by manliness. It gives hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind, and recognition of the fundamental facts of human nature."
      Canon Taylor

      "My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level."
      Michael H. Hart

      March 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • sample

      @october..
      YOU OK WIT ROMAN SISTERS DRESSING FROM HAIR TO TOE..COVERING THEIR FACES TO B HOLY BUT YOU HAVE PROBLEMS WIT MUSLIM FEMALES WEARING VEILS WHICH AN EXACT SAME THING,,
      DO YOU THINK?

      March 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  17. fundies

    I couldn't make it to church for the last 30 ro so years. So here it goes:

    Confessions: I don't usually wear underwear.
    The older I get, the more I like bigger b*tts
    I like to watch iCarly.
    I pick my nose while driving.
    I voted for George W. twice (no, not in the same election.)
    I yank it fairly often.
    I don't mind the smell of my own farts.
    I got black-balled by the Chi Omega sorority back in the day. "Loved" those girls.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  18. Scott Miller

    It is sad to see a person who claimed to be a christian turn to Islam which I believe to be a false religion.

    What is a real christian? In my view and from my experince a real christian is a person that has acknowlegded Jesus as God's way of salvation, through His shed Blood. The blood of Jesus is the sacrifice God required and provided for all people to be saved. The Musilms do not believe in the death and ressurection of Jesus, so they deny the only way they can possiblly be saved. When a person repents and asks God to forgive them based on what Jesus did on the cross they are not only forgiven but they become Born Again. Jesus said, You must be born again, to enter and to even see the kingdom of heaven. The muslims see Jesus as prophet rather that a saviour, so they have to change before they can ever see the Truth about Jesus. I doubt Mathew Miller was even a real christian in the first place, although it is possible, but if he was a real christian, he is an apostate now, denying the Truth about Jesus.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • jim

      And some muslims would say the same thing about your beliefs. Regardless of what side of the fence however, it is this perspective that fuels and justifies hatred of others.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Saladin

      Hi Scott,

      Muslims revere Prophet Jesus very highly. We firmly believe he is the messiah as promised in the bible. We also believe he was raised and will return to lead the humanity. For us, the most pure lady to walk on this earth is Mary may peace be upon her. I guess the core difference in our belief is that Muslims believe firmly, that only God the Almighty is the one to ask for forgiveness. He does not have any partners, he does not beget nor was her begotten. For Muslims, God does not share any humanly attributes so Jesus can never be a God yet being made of flesh or even die which only comes to creation, not God. God is the most merciful. Muslims ask God directly for forgiveness for any and everything and our belief is that he loves us 70 times more than our mothers. That is to explain the love he has for us. In Islam, it is believed that if we take a step towards God, he runs towards us. Basically elaborating his love for the creation. Salvation is in submission to God. That is Islam. Which means Peace. Peace be upon you all and have a great weekend.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  19. Khadijah

    I was a very conservative, devout Christian for a long time. I saw how they treated others. I became Muslim. The Christians made me Muslim.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Steve Smith

      God full filled His promise to Abraham through Issac (Jesus' lineage) NOT Ishmael (Muhammad's lineage). This is the reason for the animosity between these two peoples. Yeshua (Jesus the Christ) is the fullfillment of ALL Old Testament messianic prophesies.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Elijah's Rain

      No one can make you anything, Jesus didnt come to start Christianity. He came to remove the sins of you and I. With that said, Jesus isnt a phase you go through and all of sudden drop, meaning that you weren't really transformed through an encounter with a person but instead settled for more rules and regulations that exist even more in Islam. Read my lips, there is no amount of works you can do to ever pay your way into heaven only thorough faith in God's lamb whose name is Jesus.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Huh?

      What was it that made you change? Was it the Muslim tolerance for gays? No, can't be. How about the Muslim tolerance for other religions? Probably not that one. Was it the Muslim tolerance for women's rights? Probably wasn't that one. Welcome to one of the most conservative right wing religions in the world. You went from conservative, to ultra conservative.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Joe

      You want you to move to the middle east if you want to change to Islam

      March 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • clarification

      Brother,

      If Christians made you Muslim would it not be clear that you did not adhere to either system of belief on account of God? I hope you will be well!

      Godbless you.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • fundies

      would you jump off a bridge if they asked you to? just curious.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  20. Civilization

    I laugh how the tolerant god haters love to disparage religion. Yet your hero, Barack Obama said, "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour." And Bill Clinton said, “The Bible is the authoritative Word of God and contains all truth” So, if religion is only for the stupid, what does that make them?

    March 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • His Noodly Appendage

      Liars, they have so say that or they wont get elected

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

      It makes them stupid, of course.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Joe

      What is tolerance beside yet another hate crime. How would you feel if somebody said I tolerate you? Not I love you I want to know you. I want to help you, but I tolerate you. There is not love in Toleration.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Ken

      you laugh how???

      March 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
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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.