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. R.A.M

    Every Religion has faulty basis of living when you explore the meanings. example: If you are not a Christian if your not Muslim or etc your a doomed?? Did man write these laws? Did man enslave his own people? What religion caused the demise of the "American Indians"..their land, their children..Isn't their constant War in the Middle East?? If Religion is our only source of divine enlightenment then we're in lots of Trouble. Whats so funny is that its a big Family Fued!! From Abraham to Jesus to Mohammed to Noah Their ALL RELATED TO THE SAME FAMILY TREE!! ITS TRUE

    March 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  2. Free Will

    Faith is a personal choice... why is a big deal if some one wants to follow Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism ?

    Honest seekers will find the "Truth".
    Most of us don't even want to know the TRUTH because we can't handle the TRUTH !!!

    March 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • M

      I completely agree.. people are quick to hate when someone makes a personal choice, and are quick to question motives. Just accept that some people will be muslim and some christian. He saw the truth in Islam. Instead of criticizing why doesnt everyone try to see what he saw in Islam and then decide for yourself instead of just repeating what media moguls tell you. God gave you a brain. USE IT

      March 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  3. Descarado

    This article merges well with CNN's business model targeting blacks, Muslims, gays and 24/7 Palin haters. One wonders who is going to pay CNN's bills after Palin evaporates?

    March 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  4. Peter

    le retard

    March 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  5. Cameron

    there are millions of people everyday who convert their religion why is this guy special?

    March 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Because this is taking place in Tennessee...

      The "neighbors" would be just as friendly towards him if he openly declared himself to be an agnostic or any one of several other classifications that don't fit the norm...

      March 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  6. Actions Speak

    Watch muslims in the name of islam.Not 100 years ago but in modern day.Islam is evil and everyone who follows it becomes evil.Let the videos speak. http://www.bestgore.com/beheading/worst-beheading-video-ever-horrific-sound-massive-blood-loss/

    The video, on an Islamist site, identified the hostage as Eugene Armstrong and showed a masked man sawing his head off with a knife. The video showed the banner of Zarqawi’s Tawhid and Jihad group, which said it had kidnapped the hostage along with another American and a Briton in central Baghdad last Thursday. The video was the first word on the three men since a 48-hour execution deadline set by the group on Saturday expired earlier in the day.Tawhid and Jihad said in footage posted on the Internet on Saturday it would kill the three men unless Iraqi women were freed from Abu Ghraib and Umm Qasr jails in 48 hours. The families of Americans Armstrong and Jack Hensley and Briton Kenneth Bigley have appealed for their release. The men were seized from their house in an upscale neighborhood of Baghdad on Thursday by a group of gunmen. The U.S. military says no women are being held in the two prisons specified, but that two are in U.S. custody. Dubbed “Dr Germ” and “Mrs Anthrax” by U.S. forces, they are accused of working on Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs and are in a prison for high-profile detainees.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  7. crawbar

    One more victim o f Islam...
    He was looking for something unfamiliar to get some sense in his life... Poor kid...
    I hope he does not become a terrorist.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  8. Mr. Spock

    How about a Christian/Muslim journey to science and reason? When are you religious morons going to wake up? You impede the advancement and evolution of our world. Don’t read fiction like the Bible or Koran. Study logic, math, physics, and philosophy texts. You will improve your life and our world by doing so.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  9. RationalMind

    This is like a cigerette ad. Trying to sell something that kills... (BTW: Like Cigarette ads, Ads promoting Islam should come with a statutory warning)

    March 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  10. Eliane

    So sad that he gave up to believe in his mother God and start to believe in others God....I think his mother showed him the only way, and he left for nothing....so sad!!!

    March 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  11. zalisa

    As humans, we just don't get it, do we??? Here's something to think about; Christianity, Judeaism and Islam ALL WORSHIP THE SAME GOD!!!!! And yet, we divide ourselves by our religiosity, by a belief that has been shoveled in our brains since birth....I challenge ANY of these religious leaders to convince me that war and fighting each other out of ignorance of religion is what God wants....I was raised a Christian who has traveled to the Middle East and has written extensively on 'Islamic Groups'....just a news flash here....ALL groups want the same things for their children, they want a good education, they want health, they want to see their children laughing and playing....hate is taught, people!!! GOD IS NOT TEACHING HATE, RADICAL RIDICULOUS SCARED PEOPLE ARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Saved

      "Here's something to think about; Christianity, Judeaism and Islam ALL WORSHIP THE SAME GOD!!!!!"


      March 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Dan

      The God of Christianity is Jesus Christ. There's no way around it. Muslims do not believe this, therefore they are worshipping someone/something else. Your statement is illogical.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  12. James

    Did his change in Faith from Christianity to Muslim come with Kit.–ie–A knife and non-tolerance instructions ???–I would say "Adios" to this guy and send him to Mecca with a non-refundable one way plane ticket–

    March 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  13. fundies

    I have converted to unaffiliated. Who would like to affiliate with us unaffiliateds? I suck at typing.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  14. richantcliff

    I guess this is a man bites dog story. As thousands of Muslims are converting to Christianity the only one worthy of a news article is the one going the other way. Not surprising, just sad.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • M

      funny you mention that many muslims are converting to christianity as if its fact. If that is so true, then why is Islam the fasting growing religion in the World, a fact which even the Pope admitted to is true and has surpassed Catholicism. Explain that one to me

      March 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  15. Marco

    I also renounce my former religion and I move to another: instead of believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I now believe in Harry Potter. Both as fictional as Jesus, Ala or god father

    March 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Mark B.

      There is more historical evidence of the existence of Jesus than there is of Julius Caesar. Bet you believe he existed.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  16. Truth

    I've read countless comments about religion being false. There are numoreous definitions for religion but in sociey we only associate religion with those that profess to be part of a certain group with certain beliefs, ie Christians, Muslims, etc.. A few definitions for religion are as follows: a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects, the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith, and something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience. I think its safe to say that everyone in the entire world belongs to a religion, think about it. If you don't believe in God your considered an atheist or an agnostic, or neutral, not giving a claim to any creator or deity, but according to the definition of religion you are in a religion because you have a fundamental belief and practice agreed upon by yourself and other persons that no God exists. Now according to the definition of religion there are rituals that are usually involved and rules that you have to follow, if your an atheist you can't believe in God, if your a muslim you must bear witness that that Mohammed is God's profit and Jesus is not the Son of God but a great profit. In Christianity Jesus is the Son of God who lived a perfect sinless life yet falsely accused of blasphemy and crucified on a Roman cross, which by the way was considered to be the most humliating and devistating form of punishment for the most vile sinister criminals according to ancient history in Rome yet, He didn't do anything to deserve such punishment. He laid His life down for the sins of the entire world so that by faith in Him ( The only qualified blameless sacrfifice to be offered to God for sin) we would be reconciled to God. John 3:16 which is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible shows how much God loves us and that despite our evil, wicked, sinful nature He loved us so much that He sent His Son, who was willing, to die for us and break the power of sin in us. Now why would God do all this? Because He desires a relationship with us, His creation, which seperates Christianity from other religions which are based on works where as Christianity is based on a relationship with Jesus Christ which makes it more personal. I know some will still view Christianity as a religion but it's in fact more so a lifestyle, truth, hope. Through Christ God challenges our character and the authority we think we posses by letting us know the truth through His Word. God made us with a purpose. If we were only created to die than there would be no reason for us to exist, what would be the point. But God desires a relationship with His creation but we're seperated from God because of sin and the only way to break that seperation is to confess Jesus Christ as Lord and let Him change our thoughts, character, and integrity.

    Acts 4:10-12 (New Living Translation)

    10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,[a] the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,

    ‘The stone that you builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.’[b]

    12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

    Only a loving God would go through such leaps and bounds for us to have a relationship with Him and if someone that claims to be a Christian is not showing the love of God within themselves than they can't be called a Christian because its not in God's character to do evil to another but instead love our neighbors as ourselves and to love those that hate us.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • John Sharp

      That was too funny, you named yourself the truth then spoke extensively about myths.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  17. kc

    What would be your next god when you are bored with Islam?

    March 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • JD

      God is God, no matter what religion you belong to.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Dan

      JD: Your statement simply isn't logical. God cannot be both Jesus and not Jesus, depending on what one wants to believe. He is or he isn't incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  18. watch islamspeak

    Let the videos speak for islam.Not sure you will watch it.If not then you do not know the true islam.

    slaughtered American contractor Nick Berg. Sitting in a chair, Berg made the following statement: “My name is Nick Berg, my father’s name is Michael, my mother’s name is Susan,” the man said on the video. “I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah. I live in … Philadelphia.”The video then changes to a scene of masked men, with Berg sitting in front of them. After reading a statement, the masked men were seen pulling the man to his side and putting a large knife to his neck. A scream sounded as the men cut his head off, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” – “God is great.” They then held the head out before the camera.THIS IS THE REAL FACES OF ISLAM.http://barenakedislam.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/american-nick-bergs-beheading-warning-graphic-images/
    In this case, just as it has happened so many times before, it seems that the executioners used a dull knife again. These guys really left the man take the imminent death with all of its worst. The knife wielding masked man slowly cut through the neck of the victim as if to take in the joy of causing slow and painful death. He cut through man’s trachea and esophagus which detached victim’s mouth from the rest of the body, yet he’s still making desperate attempts to scream and all the noise is coming out of his neck. It’s brutal.
    As carotid arteries got cut, the blood started gushing out in volume you have never seen before. The massive blood loss along with horrific sound this beheaded man lets out make this easily the most brutal beheading video you will have ever seen. Also notice how just before the beheading starts, the camera focuses on victims bruised arms. That man was heavily beaten prior to his painful execution. He was given a choice to say his last words – it’s in a language I don’t understand (possibly a Middle Eastern tongue) but you can tell the man has already gone through hell on Earth and knows the worst is yet to come. He likely wished for a quick death so he’s done with it, unfortunately for him, he was not granted that wish. Brutal video.
    I don’t want to sound mundane with warnings, but damn the damned – WARNING on this one. Extremely brutal video. Very bloody. You have never seen this much blood ejected out of man’s body before. Knife executioners used to behead this man was likely really dull which you can tell by what it took to cut through the soft tissues of the neck. The video then jumps to the footage of decapitated head laying atop man’s dead body – which I’m assuming is because cutting through his spine took them forever, so they got rid of that so they’re not ridiculed for being complete amateurs. Once again – this video will hunt you for years, even if you’ve seen previous beheadings and took it like a champ. This one is worse. The sound is extremely painful and the amount of blood lost is beyond comprehension. You can’t even believe heart can pump so much blood with each beat. Watch at your on risk, you’ll have to deal with it yourself if you opt to go for it. I’m not kidding, it’s the worst beheading video ever!It appears as though the name of beheaded man was Jasus Musel. The beheading was carried out by MUSLIMS.See a pattern??

    March 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • The Right Left

      50 million people were killed during WWII in war preptrated by European and Americans belonging to the Christian faith. One million American slaughtered and buthered each other during ciivil was, pary to their Christian God to give them victory. I am an atheist. I dont beleive that you can blame the act of man on his relgion or beleif. If that is the case then every gund carrying American is a murderer and a potential criminial and we should look at them that way. It would be a preposterous postion. Those who blame Islam or any religion for the bab deeds of a few are either ignorant or have their own phobias to work out. PEACE!!!

      March 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  19. SlayFalseGod

    Religion and free thought dont go together

    March 25, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • RationalMind

      Esp. Islam....

      March 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • SlayFalseGod

      Christians, too.
      They can be very intolerant people.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  20. james

    This man wasn't truly Christian.. It's one thing to say your Christian another to live like a Christian.If you live like a Christian you feel fulfilled like a void in your life has been filled.When you don't live like a christian you are never filled, just partially full but always looking for something. next he'll go to buddisim, or something else I find it funny that the media is so quick to talk about a conversion from Christianity.. What about all the athiests, Muslims, Jewish, Buddist etc who have converted to Christianity ?

    March 25, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • TriumPatriot

      Wasn't truly Christian? He claimed to be Christian, what more do you need?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • RationalMind

      He's an actor 9neither Chrisian nor any other religion)... most likely paid for by CAIR or Saudi

      March 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • JD

      What book in the Bible tells you it's ok to judge someone else?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Zabibu

      this guy is one out many who will go through the large gate

      March 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Dan

      Zabibu: You have no idea what gate he will pass through. He could yet come to Christ.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • kyle

      Exactly!!! most people think that if someone says he's a christian than that means he is a christian, but thats absurd. You have to see yourself as a sinner and the worst sinner, then you accept that only one can save you from that state of sinning, then your born again, and the way you prove your a Christian is by the life you live, the good fruits you make, and a Christ-like lifestyle.70% of Americans think they are Christians, I would be surprised if at least 10% are true born again Christians, committed to the life of Christ. This applies to evolutionist believing Christians, gay christians, post modern Christians, non church doing christian, liberal christian, and pastors who sleep around with church members christians. ***I am not judging but I wish fake christians stop embarrassing True Christ centered Christians. ***

      March 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Saim Imran KHAN

      My Friend, i dont know in which world u livin, but according to Stats fastest growing religion is i Think Islam. beside all the negativity against Islam and all that islamophobia of in the western society still its growin n growin, because people are sick and tired of being Naive and pretending to be devout to Christianity. because seriously how many fabrications you guys gonna do in God's words.? every century there is a new bible,(average or may be more than one). whereas Islam is simple, practical, pure, and most importantly make sense, and to understand dat al.l u have to be in neutral .. take care May ALLAH show you right path my Bro..:)

      March 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Dan

      Saim: Even IF Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world (which is arguable), that has no bearing on the truth. You are committing a logical fallacy known as "argumentum ad populum" - most people believe it, so it must be true.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • fuyuko

      you can't really judge what the man's beliefs were.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:02 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.