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. Anna

    CNN is just a branch of Al Jazeera.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  2. Earl

    If you were in the Eastern World and when you change your religion from Islam to any other, then you are most likely to be killed. Converts to Islam cannot dire to turn back, then your very friends who were with you on the way to Islam would kill you.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • FromOtherSide

      This article is about a Mosque in our country USA which is not a Christian country. Anybody can convert to whichever religion they wish here.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  3. Eternal Bliss

    Good for Him.. change the constant that defines all that Lives.. is always a "struggle".. and always requires courage... and to change in such a great way for what one believes is better to their being.. is a task that many would shy away from..

    March 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  4. Enoch_knows_whos_names_are_written

    The problem is that Islam is a political ideology cult disguised as religion.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  5. Ed

    Problem is the excuse of "well you really don't know anything about Islam" is a lie. Just read the Koran..it's all there...the requirements to subjugate, murder, and destroy non muslims...the barbaric oppression of women. The requirement to treat anyone who is not a Muslim as an animal, the allowance for lying and cheating anyone who isn't muslim because its ok since they are not human anyway...etc etc etc. Islam has been laid bare by its own "holy" book, and what it there isn't beautiful at all...it's very very ugly and very deviant to be quite frank. We understand Islam...we understand it all too well..that is WHY we fear it, because we know what it REALLY is asking you to do to us...

    March 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • FromOtherSide

      It is because of people like you that this guy converted to Islam. Have you heard any Muslim ever talking or writing so negatively about Bible, OT, NT or Jesus Christ (Peace of Allah be upon him)? People who want to know the truth will pray God sincerely and then look for the answers themselves, instead of getting all education from FOX news

      March 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  6. M

    Who cares if a Christian converted to Islam? You'd never see the headline "Muslim converts to Catholicism". CNN, why don't you write about the many Muslims among the thousands of Catholic converts that were presented to the cardinal in my city 2 weeks ago? Our basillica was standing-room only and they had to hold 8 ceremonies that weekend. About 4,000 people were preparing to be baptized Catholic from all backgrounds, many were Muslim who I personally met, and they fear backlash from their families. Now that's bigger news, wouldn't you say?

    March 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • FromOtherSide


      Actually the story of a Christian converting to Islam is brought up here because this story is about a Mosque which is unwelcome. It makes more sense. If a church were unwelcome, they would have covered the stories of Muslims converting to Christianity.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  7. Matt

    Let me file this under "I could give two poops".

    March 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  8. irfan

    Nice Story, At least the man was of Christian faith to begin with , so he had the freedom to do whatever he wanted to do. Were it a Muslim converting to Christianity, He would be ridiculed, laughed and frowned upon in this country. And in Islamic countries, well...in that case, you would never hear anyone converting to Christianity because they do not tend to live longer.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  9. Mao

    @that's because

    Christians believe in the trinity but just because Muslims don't understand the "triune" concept doesn't mean they don't worship God. I'll cite the Biblical example of Nickademus struggling with overcoming his own inability to understand rebirth. Doesn't mean Nickademus was a bad guy, it just means that he didn't get it. You can't fault any one for lacking the capability of understanding an infinite God.

    This has nothing to do with understanding but of accepting and acting. Do Muslims worship Jesus?
    Now with Nic in John 3, great story, love it. Good words. But that isn't about being good is it, but knowing and acting. Could he have been born again under his current understanding? No, he was looking to a physical birth "How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter into his mothers womb to be born." It was only through Jesus and knowing who he is that Nic could get the story straight (which didn't happen at that time). Likewise Muslims don't have it right because they don't know who Jesus really is. Did not Jesus say to the Samaritan woman in John 5, "A time is coming when the true worshipers of God will worship in spirit and in truth"? Can you worship God in truth when you attach errors upon God?

    March 25, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  10. Marty in MA

    This isn't a news story and religion is just a big crock anyways.
    Flying Spaghetti Monster rules!

    So sad for all those that waste their time. Most of the ancient religions have vanished because those gods are irrelevant today, lesson learned.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • tk

      I was into the Flying Spaghetti Monster for a while, but the Atkins diet made me give up pasta.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  11. Common Sense

    His Poor Mom! Wasted all those years trying to mold a christian..and he broke the mold and became an even bigger nut!

    March 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  12. Rickie

    It would be nice to know why he became a Christian in the first place

    March 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  13. tt

    When do you get ur 70 virgins? hopefully without going up to the ALLA, you get to enjoy at least four!! Enjoy

    March 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  14. Athar

    Finally, there is courage in the American Media to show a glimpse of the positive side of a peaceful religion. Of course, the majority of the comments here are from scared and ignorant people who don't know how to coexist. No religion, including Islam, denegrates the other believers.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • RealityChecker

      A peaceful religion? How many dead infidels are required before Islamic terrorists become peaceful?

      March 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  15. jd

    A person can claim they use to be a Christian but actually being a Christian is another story. I don't believe this man was ever a Christian just as I sincerely doubt he is even a Muslim now. Faith is not a game, toy or a joke. Faith is a very personal and private commitment of your entire being and soul. Anyone can try to game it for media attention or profit. Some like the rituals attached to a religion. In the end only he will answer for his beliefs.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • FromOtherSide

      Yes you are right 'Religion is a private matter'. So if he is a Muslim or a Christian, what do you know about it? And in the first place how can you question his private and personal matters? You have a problem with his conversion to Islam and that is about it.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  16. CB

    I think one reason the world has such a negative view of Islam is that when these brutal attacks take place, you never see any Muslims condemning them. Instead you either hear silence or rejoicing. If the so-called moderate Muslims living in the US actually thought these things done by Muslim terrorists were bad, why don't they speak out and say so? I once heard a Muslim say "today's moderate Muslim is tomorrow's terrorist." One poster above made the claim when a Christian commits a violent crime he is considered mentally off, but when a Muslim does he is considered a terrorist. I think the difference is that when someone who calls himself a Christian and does something evil, the Christians respond by condemning what the person did. But we don't see that among Muslims. They remain silent which just communicates to the rest of the country that they don't have a problem with it.

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

      CB i somewhat agree with you mate, but the matter of fact is , those voices are unheard, because alot of people don't want to listen and want to find an easy target to blame, so its easier to just blame the whole faith instead of the inviduduals who wrongfully commit atrocities in the name of that faith.

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

      So let me get your logic straight...just because you don't hear Muslims speaking out against terrorist attacks then we all must be terrorist or soon to be terrorist. Wow...I sure hope your not in any position of power. If you would like to hear Muslim's response to these heinous acts may I suggest you go to your local Masjid. Trust me...your not going to find real Muslim's responses in the media...here is a hint why? Negativity sells...ignorance is bliss...wake up and step out of your comfort zone...trust me...I'm Muslim and I don't bite...we are your doctors, teachers, lawyers, police, congressman, neighbor and most of us are born and raised right here in good ole America...wake up

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

      Christians are doing many things bad to Muslims, but no moderate Christian ever condemns them. Ever heard of Orange County California where some 'Moderate' Christians were yelling 'Get out of our country' to small children when their parents gathered up to raise funds for the poor members of the community. Did any 'Moderate Christians' ever speak against it?

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

      Stop ur nonsense argument. u must b one of the paid propaganda soldier who has been writing in every article the same thing. every muslim I know hates terrorists as much anyone does. U want regular life people to go out on the street and yell that they dont support terrorist?

      March 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  17. Sheila

    Every adult should examine their beliefs, study other beliefs, and make a decision as to what they believe for themselves. He did. I wish him every happiness.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Isabel

      Everyone is given the right to choose. God is gratious in that he gives you that. However, His way is the only way.
      ever heard of what happened to Satan? Do you know why he was banished from Heaven?
      Again, we can choose what ever we want. This does not make it true. The truth is that Jesus is the way and the life, and noone comes to the Father but by Him. God in His infinite mercy gave us a way back to Himself.. One way not many ways to make us happy if only in our minds.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Isabel wrote "we can choose what ever we want. This does not make it true. The truth is that Jesus is the way"

      And you know the truth? How? You've been thoroughly brainwashed and have bought into one set of fairy tales.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  18. Kenneth Godfrey

    So sad that one who claimed to be Christian converted to Islam when apparantly he never was Christian in the first place. The problem today is many are assumed into the religion of their parents and don't actually commit. That was most likely his situation. Religion is not a tradition, it is a commitment. In this case, one is lost to God's grace through Jesus because he never committted to Jesus.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Tim


      March 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Isabel

      “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.”

      Above excerpt in this article says it all..... If you have a real relashionship with Jesus Christ, you are in His presense every time you kneel with your face to the ground and speak to Him. it's so sad when i see this type of article. Many will be deceived in the last days.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Regina

      I agree and think this young man converted just because he didn't truly ever experience the grace and all accepting love from our Father in whom we have Jesus Christ, the saving grace and eternal truth. This reminds me of a Langston Hughes narrative "Salvation" where as a child, he agonizes over not experiencing Jesus come into his life, simply because he wasn't ready to commit to letting his life be led by Jesus's healing spirit. He instead worried that he had lied to his whole church in faking a true conversion due to pier pressure. This is fine and that happens, but the point is the character in the narrative and this man in the interview, both did not have an intimate moment where one's life was totally surrendered over to let Jesus saving grace heal, fulfill, and make whole their lives. They both wanted it, but didn't choose Jesus.

      No matter what religion one is in, if that person doesn't have a true moment of commitment, then of course anything else that grabs their attention may seem like the ultimate next best thing for them at that moment. I just feel that this man who is now Muslim wanted to convert because as a 'Christian' he never truly experienced total surrender. For me as a Christian, I believe that life is only something that is made whole through the power of Christ to heal it. I love other religions and cultures and see how important both are to communities and people groups-but Jesus saves us all and doesn't ask us to hate our communities-He just asks us to give our lives to Him and experience His total transforming, all patient, all understanding love. I am a friend to others from other faiths-but lovingly say that I believe Christ is the only way.

      Christianity is like excercsie-you have no idea how good it is until you try it (and I mean surrender your will to Christ- He'll never leave you behind. It's when we leave Him behind to we then think that Christianity, or even Catholicism, is foolishness.)

      This young man didn't experience Christ's enveloping salvation and something else presented itself for him. I'm sure though that he has found a wonderfully kind and loving community among Muslims, however Christ saves and this is the main point.

      I think it's hateful to be calling each other "idiots" on here.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  19. Baltica

    I recently switched shampoo and conditioner! That's how relevant this article is.
    What a joke, "I just switched believing in some man made made up fairy tale to another even more ridiculous man made fairy tale, and I made the news!' THERE IS NO GOD, so take a deep breath, smile, and enjoy life.

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

      There is a God, and he's going to fry your ass for denying him. You think you're so smart, you think you think you've got all of the answers and with a statement like that you only proved one already obvious point...you're as stupid as everyone else. Marinate on that a while. Have a great day.

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

      Ken wrote: "There is a God."

      And you know this how? And to which of the thousands of "gods" made up by men through the ages are you referring?

      March 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Rufus

      Logically now...if no G_d, ONLY comes after the first thought of "Is there a G_d (or not)? I choose there is a G_d and you are not Him. Creator of all there is, was, and will come to be. What part of a two part question remains? For some there is always the fence. Eventually we all decide, don't we Baltica?

      March 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Nyarlathotep

      C'mon and get me, god! Warm up that lightning bolt and take me down RIGHT HERE!

      Since gods don't exist, Baltica's chances of getting "fried" are exactly equal to his chances of getting kidnapped by Venusians or groped by a sasquatch: ZERO!

      March 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • The Last Noel

      There is no god. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes there is. No there isn't. Yes, no, maybe

      March 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Rufus

      and now welcome to the fence Noel. Cute repeat? Adults only section here. there is a play ground at MSNBC full of the sand from Libya

      March 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • God

      Ken, if your god is the one who wants to fry my a** if I am not a believer then f*** him and you too

      March 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Ken

      PraiseTheLard:There is a God. How do you know this. Real simple, because it's in my heart. It's a knowledge that was put in my heart since my birth. I wanted to know about God before I was old enough to even grasp the idea of someone implementing it in my head. I've had many victories through my prayers to him,not to mention The Bible. So The Bible was written by man, and it could be falsified and blah blah blah..funny how all of the phrophecies in The Bible have come true, have come to light, and if you don't realize that power of the vision of the future didn't come from weak and pathetic men but another power that cannot be grasped by even our most intelligent thoughts then you are even more dumb than you've already revealed yourself to be.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Nice, job, Ken. God is a nice all-purpose mental krutch, isn't he? When people disagree with you, there is always the option of threatening them with your invisible sky-friend's fiery wrath. God simultaneously serves as avenger, parent figure, imaginary friend, dictator, executioner, and rationale for committing atrocities around the globe. The guy in this article made the news because he matter of factly traded one imaginary friend in for another one.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      "Real simple, because it's in my heart." Isn't that what David Korresh told the Branch Davidians too? Crazy people are always beliving in imaginary things and voices in their heads– you are no different. Your posts read liek the schizophrenic babblings of a truly crazy person. What prophecies in the Bible have come true? Israel? We MADE that one come true– when you actively work towards making prophecies come true, they are no longer prophecies, they are called LONG TERM GOALS.....

      March 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  20. Daniel

    If you have younger brother was born years after you, what's in the world your younger brother can claimed he knows your Father more than you, Christian was exist hundreds years before islam exist, and still worship the God of Adam&Eve, Moses, Abraham until now, than what's make islam claim they are the right one...., give me a break.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • inam

      idiots like you belive taht the first relegion is the best relegion??? read a little you moron

      March 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Randy

      Jews can make the same claim about Christianity and have.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Eternal Bliss

      My Friend... there is no "right one" ... All is One.. and All is Him... He is "Father" to all of Us.. and thus...we are all in the same station as "brothers" no?..... and in reality.. we are all ignorant of truly grasping Him...and all struggle in our relative limited ways to understand that which has no limits.. has no borders.. and in that way again.. we are all One and the same no? .... and in the end.. the idol that man must destroy in order to know Himself and His "Father"...is the idol in the mirror... and in that way again.. we are One... why is it that He is not divided.. yet we are?..

      March 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • jerry

      OK, idiot, was there no religion before Christianity? Or is this a thinly veiled version of the "my religion is right, if yours is different than mine it is wrong"? If so, that's just plain ignorant.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Rickie

      How or why did he become a christian in the first place

      March 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Atheist

      That's not true; Islam came out at about the same time as Judaism, and Christianity was an offshoot of Judaism.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Atheist wrote: "That's not true; Islam came out at about the same time as Judaism, and Christianity was an offshoot of Judaism"

      That's not universally accepted. Most recognize the beginning of Islam as coming with Muhammad, around 600 C.E.

      Of course, that doesn't lend it any more credence than the other religions that have been concocted through the millenia.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Daniel

      @Inam and @Randy, in Quran there is Adam&Eve, Moses, Abraham, and Christian and Jew still worship their God which yahwe and He came down to this earth as a human as Jesus Christ, and He will caming back again not to die on the cross anymore but bring Judgment for whoever not accept HIm, now its up to you to believe or not, bottom line Christians never hate Islams people, just hate their action (terorist peoples) ..

      March 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Peter

      So sad, hope he will back to Jesus soon as the end is very near,
      God help all of us

      March 25, 2011 at 4:56 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.