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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. Abe

    It is impossibe for you, if you a born-again believer to convbert to anything....This guy apparantly did not read the bible carefully cause the bible tells us Islam is not of God!!! Jesus said its finished...its finished!

    March 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • DRTSAT

      Actually, the bible doesn't specifically target Islam as Christianity predates Islam by a couple of hundred years. The Bible also does not ban drinking, contrary to popular belief. It does address wine drinking numerous times but only cautions against too much of it. Not an outright ban as many Evangelicals try to portray. I think back on how many times I heard a preacher in church say that and now I wonder what, specifically, he had been reading.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  2. Thomas McCauslin

    If we want to say Muslims are unwelcome then I saw we also make the Christians and Jews go away and feel comfortable as well.

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

    This guy will end up in Afganistan throwing grenades at our US soldiers. Best to put him out of his misery now.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  4. Frankly Speaking..

    Woah! 50 pages of loathing with a few instances of sunshine..we have a long way to go America

    March 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  5. fuyuko

    so, he switches from one abrahamic religion to another. this happens all the time. If it makes him happy, then good, personally, you couldn't drag me into islam kicking and screaming.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  6. FGdv

    This was utterly pointless. Worst video I've seen on CNN

    March 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  7. Passionman

    Very good decision,happy for you. i am sure you will feel the difference. happened to me.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  8. YOU

    Prove to me that you are right in your convictions, show me why you think you are right and they are wrong. If you want to continue hating /judging/alienating someone with beliefs that are not your own, then please justify these actions. If your God, whatever name you call him by, has shown you the way, then please tell me what he thinks about how you ALL treat each other.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Anon

      The God i worship is the God from the Bible and he is very dissapointed in the way we act. He is very sadden by the hate and selfessness that we express rather than love and kindness.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  9. Chris

    Who gives a f*** about these backwards f ing religious nuts???????

    Besides the other nuts , I meant

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

      The problem is that they vote.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  10. Al

    This is great. Trading one phony god for another phony god. It's 2011 and time to move on from all the Zeus based religions (and any other religions there may be as well). We have already explained everything the bible tried to explain. We did it through science and disproved these religions decades ago. Evolution is no proven fact – we know that man did not come from a deity spitting on some dirt. Let's give all this up and all of us will be happier with each other.

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

      your ignorance is underwhelming.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  11. Chanselor Jenkins

    God is love. period literialy. once you understand that you will have peace.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • fuyuko

      very true. if everyone just loved their neigbor as themselves, which is the only command we need to follow, we'd be so much better off.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  12. DKrischke

    If people will fall for Scientology or Mormonism, they will fall for anything. There is but One God and He gave us His Son, Jesus. Anything else is wrong. Christ said there will be many false prophets, and mohammed was one of them.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Al

      LOL. I love how you people decide other people's gods are not real but your god is real. This is despite having as much evidence for the empirical nature of your god as they have for theirs. You're all just guessing and made up imaginary friends to assuage your fear of death. Your god is no more real than their god is.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • JustPlainJoe

      Very close to psychosis, not?

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

      Bring on the false prophets: Mohammed, Glen Beck, etc... Bring them on!

      March 25, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • MBS

      The prophet Muhammad was prophesized in Deutronomy 10:10 :" I will raise up a prophet like Moses and put my Word in his mouth... " and in the Song of Solomon.
      He stopped baby girls being buried alive, a barbaric custom at the time and said seeking an education was an obligation on every Muslim man and woman even if they had to travel to China to do so.
      Go on AlIslam.org if you want the truth – if it matters to you.

      March 26, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  13. ensotovoce

    i have many friends that have left the church, the true church, because of the religious right spouting divisive and hate filled messages through a screen of white smiles and overdone hair. it is the duty of those who live christ-like lives to call out these "christians" and help them understand the kind of damage they are doing to God's church, the real church.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  14. salam

    Good for him. He spoke very honestly about his initial fears of Islam, which exists today for many Americans. But, he is proof that simple education can really open your eyes to what Islam is. Not a religion of hate or violence, but peace and justice. The reality is, Islam is the fastest growing religion, and has the highest number of conversions, so that is a true testament to what the religion stands for. God be with him.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  15. Aiman

    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.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Moni

      Great post. One of the most rational I have seen on this subject. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • DRTSAT

      Believe it or not, we in the military actually get training before going over about what you posted. I also happen to agree with you. When everyone realizes that another religion does not threaten them then fighting for one's religion and killing for God will stop.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • alamodefender

      if a christian kills,he is not doing it in the name of God,if he did,it would be taking the Lord's name in vain.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  16. Mohammed

    We will destroy you

    March 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • vtskivt

      Oh no Mo... once the oil runs out, Muslims will distroy themselves. Sunni and Shia hate each other. Once the western world doesn't need you, your toast! Only so many camels you can trade for food, can't eat sand, and the water around you is salty. I guess Allah is playing a cruel joke on you.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  17. A Christian

    How naive, to experience truue Islam one needs to live it, I mean being right there to see what it's all about. This kid needs to experience it in the middle east where he will get a different view. Islam was spread by sord and not thru love. The truly ignorant, non educated, and angry at society are easy targets for conversion to islam. My recommendation to this convert is to go to Saudi Arabia for a few years experience it first hand.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Well, based on your statement, you need to book a flight to Israel, that is where Christianity was founded.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Thunderlax

      I think your the naive one. First off, your lack of spelling and grammar shows your mental capacity. Secondly, the most populous Muslim country is Indonesia and the the most populous Muslim region is South and South Eastern Asia. So do your research before you jump to conclusions.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • BK

      If only we could send YOU back in time to Crusades to get a look at how much 'love' the Christians were spreading around, you dimwitted moron.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Christian in Egypt

      I totally agree. I've lived in Egypt where Islam is nothing to be celebrated, rather feared. I really love how Muslims are so tame in the states ans so quiet in their sneaky ways. In middle eastern countries, they threaten and discriminate against you because the KORAN says to! Muslims here try to reinterpret the Koran in the more peaceful way, but if you read the Koran, it does not read like the bible (i.e there's less room for interpretation).

      One thing I know is that Mohammed pursued power, wealth and women through violence, while Christ rejected all three and won my heart.

      I choose Christ...

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

      "You're", not "your"? Nice, Thunder.

      Pot, meet kettle.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      You are right , he has to act like a muslim (give in charity, pray 5 times a day, fast, bekind to his neighbor, fight for his fundamental rights, resist oppression, promote justice, encourage good, detest evil..)..

      If Middle east is islam, Isreal should be judaism and christianity.. Moron!

      March 25, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  18. Aj

    I believe there is a external power which control the whole universe but God is not in outside world, God is inside us. if you do good things you are God for other else you are devil for them.
    I have learned it from my religion, just a thought!!

    March 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  19. factsabout islam

    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/
    ANOTHER PEACEFUL ACT IN THE NAME OF ISLAM..
    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??

    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/
    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/web_site_american_hostage_killed_in_iraq/--
    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 3:48 pm |
    • what about

      just a short reply have christians never killed a "non believer" in the name of God.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Chris

      Would you like me to describe to you all the horrible things done during the crusades by Christians?? Or during the inquisition?? Or the witchcraft trials??? Your a complete moron, all religions have violent histories because people are inherently violent. Too bad the Christians didn’t have video at the time to be able to record the unspeakable acts. Trust me, the things the church did to people during the inquisition…it makes beheading with a dull rusty knife look peaceful.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • DRTSAT

      @what about: I would say if you're asking about brutal killings by Christians in the name of God against Muslims you can look back about 800 years (if I'm wrong on the timeframe someone, please, correct me) to the Crusades. Incidentally, if you're Muslim or Christian, there are currently no Crusades going on. Stop acting like it. Of course, we can always go back to the Salem Witch Trials where Pious Christians were killing "witches" in the name of god. You know, that whole burn them at the stake or drown them mess. And, before I forget, the Balkan wars. I understood your question. You're absolutely right. Christians have been just as guilty as Muslims for murder in the name of god. Those that did it or do it today will rot in hell regardless of their faith. The bottom line here is this: Fighting for Religion or God is STUPID! A person's religion shouldn't matter. This phrase says it best: Deeds not Words.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • LadyAnon

      These are obviously extremists/terrorists. These acts are not typical of EVERYONE just because they happen to be Muslim or Islamic. I won't watch the video, your description was graphic enough. Not graphic enough, however that it should convince people that Everyone under the Islamic religion is an evil, violent, murdering terrorist or extremist.

      The majority of Muslims can't stand these people either. Not only because of the horrific crimes they commit, but because of how it so negatively impacts their entire community as well.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • LadyAnon

      TO WHAT ABOUT: Have you seen the numbers on all the "Christian-Based" or "White-Only" hate groups in this country that commit crimes against those that are not Christian, Caucasian, or otherwise like 'them'? And yes, some people DO get murdered by those "Christian, White Extremist" groups.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • DavidK

      The Islamic/Muslim world is an uncivilized world, trying desperately to bring the civilized world of reasonable men and women down to their level of crude, violent, loveless behavior. Why do they want to bring the world down to their level? Because they do not posess the mental capacity to choose love, civility and kindness. Their religeon is one of hate and anger. It was that way for "christians" several thousand years ago... but they got sick of all the killing and chose to be more civilized. The muslim trash that is now trying to dominate the world seems to actually thrive on sick, violent behavior. There is no hope for the current generation of muslim/islam people. Vaporize them before the pursue their cowardly pursuit of violence. Any questions?

      March 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Omida

      The so called Muslims who do such atrocities are not representative of all Muslims. I am not a sociologist to know what make people to do those things (Muslims) but I have seen fanatic Christians who kill abortion doctors, or assassinate judges who allow a dying patient off the life support. I also have seen types of Jim Jones who murdered hundreds of his followers and a US senators. So don't tell me only Muslims do those crazy things in the name of their religion. I agree that we hear more atrocities from people claiming to be Muslim but we should realize that we have been messing up their region since 1952 (Iran Coup) for our own "interest". If you mess up any group of people long enough, you bound to see equally wrong reaction. Peace, Shalom, Salam !

      March 25, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  20. Fairminded

    Deuteronomy 13:6-10 (New International Version, ©2011)

    6) "If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7) gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8) do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9) You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10) Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

    it's amazing how little thought or knowledge goes into these posts. If people "studied" and learned their own religion and the religions of others, perhaps people would temper their misinformation and misrepresentation of one religion over the other and truly see how similar the major religions are. First seek to understand then to be understood!

    March 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • John Sharp

      You quoted the bible as evidence of your view point. How silly. Next you will be quoting Dr. Seuss.

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

      Oh, that Sam I am, Oh that Sam I am

      March 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • One golden glance

      Covey? Really? yipes....game over, you lose!

      March 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • LadyAnon

      That really is from a Christian bible. I verified that before posting this. Wow...just...Wow! That is just plain wrong. That is crazy scary. I can't express how glad I am that I got away from the Christian 'cult' many years ago.

      What's most frightening about that passage is that someone thought enough of it to reword it from the King James bible to fit today's modern text. I sincerely hope that no one is insane enough to take passages like that literally. What a sickening thought.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • R.H.

      You should not take verses like that, and throw them around saying this is what Christians believe. If you understood the context of the verse, maybe you would not bash them. First Deuteronomy is the old law of the Israelites, not the current Christian law. Also Deuteronomy was law when the Israelites were wandering in the desert. They could not afford anyone going to worship different gods, most likely the pagan gods. Every religion has verses like these in their text, and if taken out of context they lose all their meaning. The intent in putting Deuteronomy in the bible is not to take every verse literally, but rather to help explain what the it was like as the Israelites were wandering the desert. This is also why one should not rely on self interpretation, but rather have some guidance like in the Catholic Church to understand how certain books or verses are to be interpreted.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Isaac

      Yes, but the difference in this case is that we really should compare Mohammed to Jesus. Jesus preached love and understanding. Mohammed beheadded.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:49 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.