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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. Ken

    Probably was thinking.....hmmm. this Christian stuff is too peaceful.....

    March 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  2. Steve P.

    The problem he had with Christianity was the statement that "he was raised Christian." One cannot be raised Christian. A child must be taught in order to be a Christian, he or she must have a personal relationship with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus told Nicodemus, John 3:3 "surely I say to you, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." God provided a way back to Him through His Son Jesus Christ, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life," John 3:16. God didn't create religions, He created a relationship which Adam and Eve destroyed, through Jesus Christ. No man can see God unless he has been born again by the Holy Spirit.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  3. Debbie

    Actually, true Christianity is not a religion. Religion is something that you practice, being a "Christian" is about relationship with God.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  4. Ann Marie Lynch

    When a white Christian guy converts to Islam it is either because he is gay and wants to worship with only men or because he hates women and Islam preaches that women are worth one half of a male. So which is it dude? I know Islam inside and out and I'm not buying the lie that is spread, it's just pure hatred towards women and I refuse to hate myself.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • fundies

      I am a massaginist, not a mysoginist.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • David Caldwell

      You need help.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  5. ProNY

    CNN, YOUR TRUE COLORS ARE SHOWING UP. THINGS LIKE FACEBOOK AND CNN ARE DESTROYING THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  6. the undertaker (wwe)

    why change and go through the difficulty of trying to worship a fake Islamic god.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  7. Matto Sensei

    everyone relax, it's one guy. The whole point of this story is to stir up some fear – "Hey, did you see on the news? People are converting to Islam!"

    March 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  8. CK

    For those who do not know, the first order Gabriel passed onto Mohammed was " Read", "Read with the name of God"

    For those of you who do not know
    Christianity is the extension of Judaism
    Islam is the extension of Judaism and Christianity.

    Jehova, God and Allah are different names for the same power. Mosses, Jesus and Mohammed all claim to deliver the message from the same God. And the stories in the books are mostly the same

    For those who do not know:
    Islam, Christinianity and Vicious Capitalism are at cross roads.
    Why? Because Vicious Capitalism is all about "Me and Money", the true Christianity and Islam are about "Us", "the Poor" and "the Needy".

    As more and more nations are becoming "Vicious Capitalists", you are going to see more people turning to religion as an answer and protection from the rich and powerful.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Normon

      Whew. Luckily I'm only involved in the non-vicious kind of Capitalism.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  9. Civilization

    "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." (Albert Einstein)

    March 25, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  10. sa

    Every since 911 everyone is an expert on Islam. They probably never read the Quran (not cherry pick its "meanings"), never been inside a mosque. And the only muslims they probably know are the ones that flew into the world tradt center so well betrayed by Fox news etc. Its amazing how people are so eager to flaunt how uneducated they are.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  11. Jeff

    One retarded belief system to another.

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

      Amen!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  12. Kevin in Atlanta

    Wow, how did a story about religion get this many post?

    Either way, more power to this young man. He found something he believes in and isn't afraid to go for it. I don't agree with him, but it's not my place to judge him.

    Good luck to you brother.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  13. Muslim

    Where the heck is the 1st amendment? Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  14. AaronS

    The fact that his mother took his conversion so well let's me know that this guy was MOST CERTAINLY NOT raised as a Christian. Oh, he might have went to church, but any true believer will tell you that going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than walking into a garage makes you a car. That is, this gentleman, while I do not fault him for his choice, was surely not the sort of involved and dedicated believer that most of us understand to be the case when we refer to someone as "a Christian."

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

      This poor guy was brainwashed twice. First, by his parents, who told him over and over that there was a god and a bible. Second, by other sources, who convinced him these make-believe objects had different names.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  15. Sam

    If Muslims are all different, why were Christians slaughtered and churches burned in every muslim country when the revolts took place? Why are the muslims in Africa killing christians and burning churches? Muslims are not and have never been tolerant of christians. The goal of muslims is to convert or kill...why should we tolerate rather than defend? The news today....Muslims TORCH Ethiopia Churches. Feel the love.....

    Did anyone see the Justice Department ignore the Christians in schools but rushed to defend a muslim teacher that wants 3 weeks off to travel to Mecca?

    March 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • A Khan

      What is wrong ith this. All taxpayers need the PTO days as they wanted.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Chris

      That's not exactly true. When the Muslims began taking over the Byzantine Empire the caliphs allowed Christians (and Jews for that matter) to continue to practice their religion peacefully. All they needed to do was pay a special tax and all was good. It wasn't until the Christian Crusades began that that all changed. The Crusades were blamed on the act of a one Al-Hakim who partially burned down the Church of the Sepulcher in Jerusalem. He was a nut. The new caliph realized what a mistake that was and had it rebuilt. But Pope Urban II ordered the Crusades anyway about 100 or so years later. Then the Christians came and massacred just about everyone; Muslims, Jews and even other Christians. Saladin actually allowed the Christians to leave Jerusalem peacefully after he re-took Jerusalem (you can see that in Kingdom of Heaven available at Netflicks or whatever you use). Even the Ottomans allowed Christians to worship freely (again, a tax was involved....Sultans had to make a living). My history may be a bit off, but there was a time when people tried to play nice together. Too bad its all gone pear shaped!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Aiman

      Sam, those are not muslims, they pretend to follow the laws and the guidance of islam but it has never ever said to kill or to do anything harmful to christians to jews or to whatever, if you read the Qur'an you would know this, but sadly most of the people that come here just listen to their media. Islam states that show them your religion as in answer their questions and if like this guy who was on the video have a conversation with them show them the true islam if they don't want to believe let them be, for their judgment is with me. god said that, not go kill them, learn about islam.

      Whenever a muslim kills he is considered a terrorist, but whenever a christian american or of any sorts kills, he is either one of the following Mentally retarded, criminal, drug cartel, or a nazi, really if you guys even thought for a second that all muslims want to kill christians, we are around 1.4 billion muslims don't you think the world would of been a war zone and everywhere you go you'll see bombs on our chests? Seriously grow up and see what is happening in our world, read the Qur'an, in fact I'm sure you haven't even finished reading your own book (Bible).

      Those people in afghanistan some are brainwashed to believe that their going to get virgins and that their going to heaven, when their getting the exact opposite, islam has always taught us to be friendly and to love one another, I have Christian friends,jewish friends, and muslim friends and i live in europe does it look like I want to kill them ? NO!.

      Simply broaden your mind and if you speak about the Sharia law, its simple, what Saudia arabia, iran and etc do is not following the sharia, nor is it part of islam, its their cultural background, so read up as I said learn about other religions instead of trusting your media, and if you want to see a story from 2 sides go look at the arab media and then go look at the western media, exact opposite opinions, each side is trying to make us against each other, really I wish one day muslims and christians and jews will live together in peace and really start to show that no matter what color we are and no matter what religion were from, were all the same in the end.

      To talk to you about the people committing suicide, that has never been written in the Qur'an, Jihad means to fight for your religion, family, country. Simply think of it this way you come to my house and you attack me I defend my home from you but sadly you kill me, then I'm a jihadist, ok another example were in the middle ages, and you are part of the crusade, you came to jerusalem and attack and say all of us must convert or die, I say no and I fight you and die, then I'm a jihadist, Jihad never states kill whenever you see a Christian or a jew, those people in afghanistan are being radicalized by people they trust which are the sheikhs or as you say Preachers, who they themselves interpreted islam in a very different way. those people who in general most of the muslim world condemned till this very day use islam as the way to recruit people, ofcourse if you tell an uneducated person, hey if you bomb yourself you will get VIRGINS! and HEAVEN, you will be welcomed with open arms, of course they will take that...

      Now to come to some people who do that for revenge, islam teaches to read the first word of islam is to read and to learn, and to forget about what has happened to you in the past and to forgive, those people that commit suicide for example in Iraq or Palestine and kill not in the name of islam but in the name of their family why, simple people come into your country and kick you out because that was their holy land 2000 years ago, and tell you either you recognize the new state and/or you leave, will you move ? will you leave of course not... its your land and your families land. Thats whats happening in Israel now and Palestine, thats what started all this, now don't get the idea that i hate israel I have nothing against Israel or jews i don't hate them, on the other hand I have jewish and israeli friends here and we get a long, they are the best friends I have here.

      What I'm trying to say here is that some people in Iraq and Palestine kill themselves because an airstrike killed their entire family and they have nothing to live for and of course they have revenge on their heads and their hearts and who else to turn to other than the people who bombed your family, At one point I feel really bad and sad for what happened in their life, but I also think what their doing is wrong by killing innocent people, innocent people shouldn't have to die, because our idiotic leaders don't know what to do, oh god how much I wish i was a president to prove to these world rulers that everything is possible if you put an effort into it.

      Sorry for the big lecture but it needed to be said.
      take care

      March 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Sam

      Thanks for the lecture, but the CHARTER of the PALESTINES says the mission is to destroy Israel....I would say you used a bad example. The Koran preaches the murder of non-believers...the bible does not. When Christians kill, it is not in the name of a religion with the belief they are getting 72 virgins. ALSO, muslims all around the world are attacking, killing and destroying Christians and thier church's. It's not because Christians attacked them, it's simply because they are Christians.

      I appreciate your lecture, but you might want rethink your agrument.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  16. Brown

    Fortunately everyone doesn't feel the same way as this guy. Religion just doesn't seem to be doing the world a lot of good these days. Apparently it's a declining fad:

    http://peoplesworld.org/scientists-suggest-reason-for-religion-s-decline/

    March 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  17. someguy

    Stories like this are great, because then I can read all the comments from stupid people who have a knee-jerk reaction to it. So the guy decides to change how he worships his invisible friend and everyone's panties get in a bunch. Stop quoting the Koran if you're going to ignore all the nasty things in the Bible. The Bible is full of harsh punishments, Modern Christians choose to ignore them because it has no relevance to modern times, just like a modern Muslim. If you're going to let the actions and words of extremists be your basis for your opinion on Islam, ask yourself this. Do you want to be judged as a Christian by the acts of The Westboro Church? Should we judge all Americans like they're Charlie Sheen? No, we shouldn't. Like the guy who got nailed to a log said, " Love thy neighbor".

    March 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Huh?

      Yet another apologist...good for you. Islam can do no wrong to the American liberal. I am comforted, however, by the fact that the first group of people to be persecuted when Sharia comes to town will be the liberals.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • fireybuddha

      Very well written, humorous, thoughtful reply. Thanks. There aren't many of those on these boards.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • someguy

      You're obviously one of these intolerant morons I was referring to. I'm not a Liberal buy any stretch, I'm just one of those freaky people who judges people as individuals as opposed to as a broad group.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  18. tuchlu

    FULL VIDEO OF THIS

    http://bit.ly/g5vG8f

    March 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  19. Cj

    Just a little weird that someone would convert to such a primitive and intolerant religion, although perhaps American Islam is less so than the Arabic version.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Guin

      From one primitive, intolerant religion to another. Not much of a change.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Cj

      True, probably better to read Darwin and dump the whole pretense. Guess it makes people feel good to pretend grandma's up there waiting for them (or in the Muslim case, a bunch of virgins).

      March 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • David Caldwell

      Perhaps you do not know anything about Islam.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  20. lina

    islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people. For a fifth of the world's population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with their faith.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Guin

      Wow, MBane, that's quite the selective memory you have there.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Gizzy

      MBane, are you kidding? Seriously? Or did you just skip over 2,000 years of the history of Christianity? Here's a few keywords for you to look up... Inquisition. Crusades. Start there. Then do come back tell us again how Islam is the only religion with a violent history of conquest.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Larry

      NoBrain – ever hear of the Crusades? Christianity is a religion of death as well.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Chris

      Actually MBane, despite the intense political religious climate in many Arab countries today, Islam has historically been one of th most tolerant religions – certainly more than Christianity. While non-Christians, Jews included, in Europe were murdered, tortured or burnt at the stake, non-Muslims in the Muslim empire were treated with respect as "people of the Book", and paid a tax to the caliph instead of serving in his army. Read a history book before you pass judgement.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • JamesC

      yeah MBane you really have no clue what you saying – way too opinionated...

      March 25, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • OBGR

      The Muslim community doesn't consider converts Muslims, by the way.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Sam

      So Christians killed many people during some confusing times 100s if not 1000s of years back. Well currently Muslims are the ones doing the killing. Chrisitans are being killed and churches burned in EVERY muslim Country....Did you see the latest headline? Muslims TORCH Ethiopia Churches

      So we should be tolerant now because of what christians did several generations back? Maybe , just maybe, we should be critical until they stop the murders, stoning and raping...don't we imprision people for that, but we should be tolerant because a religion says you can murder your daughter if it is an "honor" killing?

      March 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • someguy

      How about when the Pope told the Spanish king that his Holy Duty to wipe out the British? How about how we've used the deaths of several thousand to justify the killing of hundreds of thousands? Islam hates women? Try reading the story of Lilith in Genesis. You can take any religion and find bad things in it. However, when it comes to walking the walk when it comes to compassion, mercy, and piety, the average modern Muslim puts the Modern Christian to shame. But, just keep judging a fifth of the world's population by the acts and words of a mere few thousand, that's a healthy outlook and so very, very Christian.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Anna

      I would rather be born as a goat than a woman in a muslim society. There is no bigger curse for one to be born in a muslim family.
      Lina, if you are muslim woman - shut up. You have no right to speak without permission or to have your own opinion.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • David Caldwell

      I agree. If one claims to be a Muslim but commits an act that is heretical to Islam he is no longer a Muslim. The same standard applies to those that claimed to be Christians but clearly do not act in accordance to Christian faith. The difference is that we Americans tend to be subjective in our judgement. It is difficult to be intellectually honest and intellectually curious enough to separate acts from true faith. Inshallah we will all learn to be better someday.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • someguy

      Anna, So you demonstrate woman's rights by telling another woman to shut up and she has no right to speak? Oh, I get it, you're speaking on behalf of a faith that isn't even your own, how enlightened you must be as an individual.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Mbane

      The goal of the cruzades was to protect the holy land from advancing muslim armies. Once lost, the Cruzades attempted to recapture the land that was lost. As for the inqusition, it was born out of fear and ignorance. It is only attributed to the church because of the "Malleus Maleficarum" written by Heinrich Kramer which falselly claimed to have papal aproval. It was a forgery that got out of control across Europe.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:17 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.