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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. John

    All I can say is wow... he converted to a religion and THEN realized/admitted he didn't know anything about it.

    Just doesn't seem like a smart thing to do...especially given the penalty for apostasy in Islam is death.

    I much prefer the Christian approach of being lifted up in prayer by others in the faith.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  2. s2kMATTers

    Sorry to hear you fell from Grace Mr. Miller. Best of luck to you.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  3. Scott

    In other word, I'm not just stupid; I'm retarded.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  4. Che

    So what is the difference? Went from one supremacist religion to another. Before he wanted to kill Muslims and Jews, now he wants to kill Christians and Jews. My God did not throw me into this hell hole of a planet. My God did not created a race of vicious, murderous beings. My God does not expect me to worship him or wants to condemn me to the eternal flames of fire if I do not. My God does not tell me to kill or hate those who choose not to believe. Who is my God? My brain does not have the capacity to claim I know where I come from or where I am going. And I quit believing in fairy tales when I was five.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  5. I

    @stymie. I agree with you. Muslims should not let their religion be hijacked by a minority of "criminals". To that end however, the majority of Muslims in the Middle East have never had the luxury of living life as we know it here in the U.S. Now that they have begun to take their destiny into their own hands, I guarantee you they will curb those who use Islam in the name of violence. Once the dictators who have called themselves "friends" to the west are gone, we will all realize that they were not friends at all, and it is because of the abuse under their reigns that fanaticism was allowed to grow.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  6. iprefernotosay

    Only an uninformed person could be stupid enough to convert to Islam knowing how violent and oppressive the religion is – I am not a fan of any religion, but if I had to belong to one, I would definitely pick the lesser of evils, which is certainly not Islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  7. Mohammed Ali Baba

    Islam is great for all the small johnsons of the world! Convert and put your uppity women in their places. Under their menfolks, er... thumbs. All small willied men should convert to Islam, and force their women to submit to their size doesn't matters!

    March 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  8. leciat

    i am really getting sick and tired of the lame stream media shoving islam down our throats. "they" claim it is because muslims are being discriminated against...if that's the case then why is the ratio of hate crimes 9% against muslims and 70% against jews...would seem judaism is the religion they should be shoving down our throats..oh but wait....that would offend muslims

    March 25, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  9. tommy

    So i was born a muslim in Pakistan and lived there until i was 27, i,ve been living in USA for more then 7 years now and have renounced Islam.
    If i go back to Pakistan i will be killed for abandoning Islam, that's the way it is.
    Why can't i have the same liberty to choose my own faith that this guy have?
    I don't believe in any god at all

    March 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  10. fundies

    we gotta live one here in this article. who wants him? Christians (if the different groups could possibly agree on something), Jews, Muslims? He's yours for the taking.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  11. rosh

    Definition of religion has been changed in today’s world. In old days religion and state was the same. If you look at any major civilization from our past state laws/way of life was driven from religion, whether it’s Judaism, Christianity, Islam or Hinduism. In today’s world that is not the case and hence it has created a mess. So in order to really understand which religion is best and works in the favor of humanity we need to first implement a religion in our ordinary day of life and state. These are my two cents. As far Islam is concern, then it was the modern religion of the world and will stay that way if practice in its original forms. By only following the Quran and only following the attributed sayings of Prophet Mohammed which don’t contradict Quran, for example stoning is nowhere in Quran, it was a tradition from Judaism, as per the last ruling for adultery in Quran whether men or women should be lashed, prior to this ruling women who committed adultery were to punished by confinement from the public, till they make sincere repentance from God. Please do search on Dr. Shabir from our beacon and Dr. Alama Perwez.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  12. fundies

    there are definitely crusaders and infidel chasers in this forum. way too serious. enjoy the weekend and lighten-up eveyone.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  13. Jim P.

    One invisible friend is very much like another to those of us who do not share your illusions.

    Christianity haas every bit as much blood on its hands as Islam for both are soaked in it throughout history and both spread frequently at the point of a sword and dealt with apostasy and dissent with torment and pain and death.

    Very few religions do not have ugly sordid histories with gods whose morals and ethics are those of a spoiled child who kills when he does not get what he thinks he deserves.

    Come back when neither side has killed anyone in the name of their god or because they think their god wanted someone dead for at least a century and then maybe we will beleive you and your god stand for peace.. Your holy books say otherwise.

    Psalm 1444: A Psalm of David. Blessed be the LORD, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle;

    March 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Civilization

      The difference is that the Koran tells Muslims to kill and conquer. The New Testament tells Christians to love and forgive. While Mohammed took others lives for himself, Jesus gave his life for others.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  14. Chuck Steak

    The fact that CNN is reporting his conversion is no big deal for Miller. However, if CNN (read around the world) reported on the conversion of a Muslim to Christianity it would be a death sentence for that individual as dozens of Fatwas would be issued calling for his/her head as an apostate. Whaddayathink!

    March 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  15. HeIsGod

    @ Jazz – Are you that brainless to realize that mankind has bestowed their own destruction and in TODAY’S century, many are killing to gain POWER because of their GREED & SELFISHNESS and the majority of them don’t even believe in God. Get your head out of the sand and shake it off, it’s making you blind, hateful, and bitter.

    Oh, and the day you stand before God, the last thing you will have time to do is curse Him in His face. You will be shaking like a little puppy wishing you would have given Him the benefit of doubt when you were living, but it will be too late for you. So I suggest that you REPENT NOW!! Christ died for you and loves you very much, so don’t blame God for the evil things that mankind have done and are still doing today. Open up your heart to SPIRITUAL REALITY! STOP letting your brain guide your heart, it’s misleading you to the direction of the path of destruction. Allow your heart to guide your brain by letting Jesus Christ dwell in it. Your life will be in the right path of eternal salvation.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  16. fundies

    some of my favorite passages:

    the fart I lit with a match.
    The rotten egger I left in that wench's office.
    My first fart.
    The shart at my buddy's house.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  17. blahh

    the thing with every religion is that they believe they are right and no one else is. religion is just a manifestation of everyone wanting to be right and everyone thinking the same and believe the same thing. religion is just forced too much, it seems. and for those people hating this guy for converting to islam, get over it. we didn't care for the jews, as a whole country for a while. why? we didn't know that much about them. same thing with muslims today. we just associate them with terrorists and bin laden. that's like every muslim associating every christian with the westboro baptist church christians or skinheads/neo-nazis. get over it people.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • del

      I'm an atheist so I believe all religions are ridiculous but i am concerned with CNN's blatant promotion of all things Islamic. Look back for the last year, especially during eid and the front page of this site was littered with "Muslims are the victim". No other religion gets so much praise and PR than Islam and I'm not talking about "belief" but everywhere here.
      Whats up CNN?
      Bet instead of an answer I get flagged and deleted

      March 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  18. leciat

    you know why they don't have a story about a muslim's journey to christianity? because the person would be murdered by the followers of the "religion of peace"

    March 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • kastu

      you are absolutely right. this "so called religion of peace" never exist. A true man will never change his faith for what so ever reason, and if he changes, then he is definitely confused. All religion preaches love. So to all mankind who reads this, think!! why there has to be a big fuss on religion. Its a disgust. Learn to love each other as Love alone is a journey towards true spiritualism!!

      March 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  19. sanjosemike

    Now he is indoctrinated to hate Israel and support its destruction. The movie and book "Not without my daughter" is not "stereotypical." It is factually correct.

    Now he will enter the milieu of: Jihad, female slavery and illiteracy, honor killings, internicine wars, terrorism, mass over-population and of course female infundibulation.

    Just what the World needs: Another Muslim.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Eric Cartman

      Amen to that !

      March 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Jamal

      Actually Islam gives women more rights than any other religion or culture almost 15 centuries ago. It teaches respect for other religions and human. The west has been colonizing the Muslim world making sure they are illiterate.
      I really suggest just learn about Islam without listening to Fox news and media Islam haters and then you will find out for yourself.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Matthew

      I'm glad to see a video about a Christian-to-Muslim convert. For many centuries, Christianity has had an influence in Western societies that respected individual choice. The mother of the person in the interview most likely respected the choice of her son.

      On the other hand, there are many examples in the news about a Muslim-to-Christian convert killed by the parent in order to restore "family honor." There is no sense of freedom in Islam. The cornerstone of Islamic faith is that you're born a Muslim.

      I believe that freedom was demonstrated in this video for the Christian-to-Muslim covert. On that note, the Christian doctrine maintains that each individual is born a sinner. Realizing the saving grace of God, each person is given the choice to transform one's sinful nature.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  20. Someone Who Reads

    Funny posts! You people crack me up.
    I am comforted by the part where we are directed to spread the message, everyone makes a decision for themselves, and they are held accountable throughout eternity, regardless what anybody thinks.
    Now THAT is a rightous and holy God.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • rickie

      Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. The bible also mentioned that Jesus paid the price for the sins of the world by his blood so that mankind have an opportunity to not paid it themselves in eternal hell. Believe Jesus Christ is the son of God

      March 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Jesus

      `Some of my favorite bible passages:

      "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent" Timothy 2:12

      "This is what the Lord Almighty says ... 'Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.' Samuel 15:3

      "Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us / He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks." Psalm 13:7

      "In the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error" Romans 1:27

      “And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, ‘If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord’s, to be offered up by me as a burnt-offering.’ Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her. When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow." Judges 11:30-1, 34-5

      "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you." Genesis 22:2

      “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22

      “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18

      ..

      March 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • rickie

      it was not God's will that Adam sined but he did. Jephthah vow backed fired on him because it was not God will to make a vow like that(Man shall not commit murder). Also God did not allowed Abraham to kill his son, Abraham was tested so see if he love his som more than God. You either love Jesus or hate him your choice

      March 25, 2011 at 5:31 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.