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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. Thatoneguy

    Silly people and there god, fighting so violently over nothing.

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

    Second point: This is supposedly a belief blog. I find it strange how there are no blogs in defense of Chrisitanity by CNN. Its all negative. The only positive blogs are about that tolerant religion called Islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Anna

      Very well said

      March 25, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  3. fundies

    "my prediction for this fight? P-A-I-N" Clubber Lang, Rocky III

    March 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  4. TampaMan

    Religious debate between studied adherents of Christianity and Islam provide enlightenment to all. Argumentative and foolish posts on the part of religious illiterates provide nothing more than bigoted rubbish. They prove nothing to the world except their own ideological befuddlement.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  5. SirDirtiness

    Of course this created a reaction. Mission accomplished. CNN should now feel obligated to publish articles on why people leave Islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  6. john o

    what ever this man does is his business, unfortunately for him, he must answer to god, for what he has done. giving up on jesus, because it felt good, will earn this man a one way ticket to hell. as far as islam sympathizers: they are everywhere and ppl are trying to make it sound cool and trendy. but islam is a hater religion. they hate christianity, and jewish ppl everywhere!!! its a known fact. it says so in their koran. muhammad was a liar and a sinner, fornicator, adulterer nad he resides in hell too!

    March 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  7. Harfnab

    "Religion is getting my post banned from this site"

    Yeah OK, every other post on this site is from Atheist perspective or calling Religion a fairy tale, but your post was just so powerful the powers that be couldn't let it slide. And I'm the idiot......

    March 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  8. dee

    I notice that the story does nothing to address the influence of Islam on women. One got her head cut off in this country recently. As a women I find nothing good about this. Notice the news pictures of demonstrations in Egypt, or any other Muslim country and you will see all men, almost no women. I think that CNN and the news in general does a very poor job of shedding light on the fact that when Islamists take over women become, essentially slaves. I invite the news to show some stories on this fact.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  9. Thumber

    Sorry but that 40 virgins waiting to satisfy a murderer is a little to much for me to stomach.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Thumber wrote: "Sorry but that 40 virgins waiting to satisfy a murderer is a little to much for me to stomach."

      That's because you've only partially bought into the belief... If you were a true believer, the number is 72 virgins.

      Now, isn't that a lot better?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  10. Brent

    Second post today about why Islam is so great. CNN is turning into the American version of Al-Jazeera.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  11. Anna

    Of course he was converted to islam - it's a paradise for a males. You may havea female slave, even 4, beat them ......

    March 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  12. christiansoldier

    well, what do you expect from a part-time caddie slash surfer dude? probably got too stuck up in the old testament he didnt read the new one.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  13. PRISM 1234

    CNN, ..............HELLO! ! ! ...............CNN! ... ANYONE THERE?

    PLEASE ....F I X ..... IT!

    The posts are so scrambled, no one knows who is responding to whom! The pages are mixed up so bad, that the original posts(not replies) which are posted at 2:50PM are next to the ones posted at 11:00AM. It's madness.

    IF YOU WANT PEOPLE TO PARTICIPATE IN YOUR FORUMS , AT LEAST HAVE DECENCY TO FIX THEM!

    March 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • L. Ron Hubbard's twin sister

      I noticed this. Why don't they use the same comment system the main news site uses?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  14. Sara

    YOU ARE YOUR RELIGION BECAUSE OF WHERE YOU WERE BORN. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  15. Ken

    This guy is a kook how do you go from believing in the one true God and then convert to a false god?

    March 25, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Ryan

      There is a simple answer to that, he NEVER REALLY BELIEVE in the one true God. Many people call themselves Christian but don't have a clue what it means. He never bothered to find out and now he is lost.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Ryan

      There is a simple answer to that, he NEVER REALLY BELIEVED in the one true God. Many people call themselves Christian but don't have a clue what it means. He never bothered to find out and now he is lost.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Ken wrote: "how do you go from believing in the one true God and then convert to a false god?"

      How do you know which one is the true one? Will the real god please stand up...

      March 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • L. Ron Hubbard's twin sister

      Just like the romans stopped believing in their "true gods" to worship one false one? I can do this all day you know 🙂

      March 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Bryan

      It's the same God.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Landruu

      There may be "One True God"...one creator. However, religion and God are two seperate things. Things written by man are written by man. Not by God. Mans religion on this earth is complete and utter nonsense. It is for the weak who otherwise could not behave rationaly. Tell me one religion that hasn't killed in the name of God.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  16. PRISM 1234

    CNN, ..............HELLO! ! ! ...............CNN! ... ANYONE THERE?

    PLEASE ....F I X ..... IT!

    The posts are so scrambled, no one knows who is responding to whom! The pages are mixed up so bad, that the original posts(not replies) which are posted at 2:50PM are next to the ones posted at 11:00AM. It's madness.

    IF YOU WANT PEOPLE TO PARTICIPATE IN YOUR FORUMS , AT LEAST HAVE DECENCY TO FIX THEM!

    March 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  17. j n

    Most people who speak in support of this type of transition who are nor Islamic or Christian (in the US) are usually the least of those who practice a daily lifestyle dedicated to God's way, in any way shape of form. America has become a spiritually weak nation, extremely weak and now primarily rooted in a life pursuing commernce, career ambition the obtainment of wealthy, or on the contrary, living a life pretending to be holy, why giving reverence to a mixed bag of religions (why they claim "all have themes which run in parallel" ...and the ever so popular "all paths lead to God".
    Most are too ignorant of religion and the ancient historical path of each following to even be given the right to speak a basic opinion about it. Christianity and Islam share roots back to Abraham. Islam was concieved in the mind of Mohammed, who was born through the line of Ishmael. Jesus Christ was born through the of Israel. Israel. There is alot of ground to cover here but the one definingn difference between all religions and Christianity is this: Christianity teaches that you recieve Gods gift of eternal life through excepting his Son Jesus Christ (which was God incarnated in the form of a man). So basically you are accepting God's ultimate sacrifice. God manifested himself onto the earth through Jesus Christ. The only way you pass into the afterlife, and recieve the gift of eternal life....and see what I am saying here..."the gift"....not earned by your efforts, not bought by your good deeds, not a reward you get for praying a certain number of times per week, not a payment you recieve from which direction you pray, or the "holy" pious words you speak, not a reward you get through your own efforts, but a "gift" that is given for accepting God's ultimate sacrifice. Christianity is about recieving the gift of life through God's faithfulness to his believers. All other religions teach complex and sophisticated ways by which humankind can earn the right to pass into heaven by thier own efforts, their own will. All other religions teach how you can get to heaven by your faithfulness to God. Islam is not a religion of peace. If you confront one, they will call for your head and the head of your children – in a violent display of anger. They will not smile, and say, I forgive you my brother. Islam will not prevail and stand the test of time. Islam will pass away with the earth. And how does any man or woman believe he or she is holy and pure enough to pronounce peace be upon him to the God of all things. How religiously arrogant to believe a human any influence over an experience of peace that the God of Peace will enjoy. God is Peace, you cannot bestow it upon him.

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

      Well said JN!

      March 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • I'm just saying

      V ERY VERY WELL SAID. TRUE CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A RELIGION, BUT A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. WE DEAL WITH HIM AND HE DEALS WITH US.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  18. Harfnab

    So is it "all Gods suck" or "all religions suck?" You are changing the words here and they have two separate meanings.

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

      Harfnab
      I have been smote !

      March 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  19. Kaagen

    God is not real.

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

      oh yes he is!

      March 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • isam73

      yes, yes, yes HE is!

      March 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • idiot

      God is not real you are right. He is not real in the sense that Humans would understand. God is. That's it. No organized religion or anything else. There is a higher spirit or being but there is no way any of us could know what or how. I know you are afraid but thats okay. So is everyone else.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • TampaMan

      God isn't real? So say the blind and selfimportant. Atoms are real, even though they can't be seen except by the most advanced equipment. Air is real, even though it can't be seen. I suppose Kaagen is real too, even though we can't see him either.

      We can know God by His good works in the universe and in us. We can know Kaagen too; that he is an opinionate bigot.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Hamish

      Amen brother, god is not real. All religions, christianity, islam, etc... are fundamentally flawed, basing their premise of belief upon something which does not exist. Who cares if this guy converts from one mistaken belief to another? So long as he is happy, I guess.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  20. REG in AZ

    I don't know a whole lot about Islam but much of what I see has the tendency to alienate. Not just with the radicals and the terrorists, although that is very significant, but also in things like how they don't want to translate the Qur'an into any other language from Arabic. There is a whole lot of real effort that goes into their not being open and instead to being isolated. So much of what Islam presents really seems to be all about rigid control, about stringently controlling the people and having them just blindly follow. Now maybe there is merit in having people be devote but I suspect that having complete control can lead to real abuse and, consistent with much of what has already been demonstrated, that can then be totally scary (especially with their aggressive recruiting and their political agendas). There is considerable said about Islam being a peaceful and compassionate religion but while we don’t want to condemn a whole religion, we also really need to see actions supporting the professed qualities, as the words have been mostly empty.

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

      Translation of Quran is available in many languages including English.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • OFIRONIT

      islam is a very dark religion with no dialog,it is just use force and intimidation to draw people in.it has no future and no place in the western society the way it is now everywhere in the world,i think people who live here should understand it and live the way american live.if they want the dark age lifestyle there many arab muslims countries living like in the stone age.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Bryan

      The Qu'ran is translated into many, many languages. We only want followers to learn Arabic so that they may read the original words of the Qu'ran, without being misled by oft-mistranslated words. So, if anything, it's an invitation to get deeper into the faith, rather than a means of cutting ourselves off. That being said, I don't speak or read Arabic and I still feel very comfortable with the Faith.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • factchecker

      You are wrong. there are translated versions of Quran in almost every language

      March 25, 2011 at 3:19 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.