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. Troy

    This guy obviously was never a REAL born again Christian.
    Once you are saved, Jesus never lets go of you or you him.
    It is impossible.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  2. LogicOnly

    Every time I go through airpor security I despise religious nutbars all the more for magnifying the problem. Here is a story of one person intent on disavowing logic and reason to move from believing in one whackadoo belief system in order to trade-up to a stuck-in-the-dung-of-the-desert whackadoo belief system. Don't breed.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  3. Peter Wolfe

    I'm surprised that Matthew didn't change his to Mohammad or Abdulah, etc. I'm just saying that why do divese populations that change from one group to another have this defensive edge to them like they are somehow specil or whatever? This is true in academia when your mindest changes from engineering to the liberal arts you are not taken as seriously anymore as you were before as in comparison with threligious conversation about the same ordeal. I know enough about religions like Islam to kno that they are all fake. None of the religions have siad any scientific factoids that are proven. Look at dinosaurs called Behomeths or leviathans cause they didn't know dinosaurs. Some thougth they were greek mythollgicalGod's, etc. Also, God migt have hidden in his man made hand a wife of the Godess ofthe tree in Syria. Bla, more bs whether tht is Islam, christianity, buddahism, hindusm, etc.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  4. Gpr

    This is PC propaganda courtesy of CNN. Nothing in this article indicates that this person was really a Christian in any true sense of the word....his mother even admits this in the piece. Typical lost California dude looking for some mystic experience...not really Truth.

    And CNN publishes this? Why?

    Where are the stories about conversions to Christianity? To Hindu? To Jehovah's Witnesses? They aren't featured because it does not fit cnns agenda very well.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  5. Magick

    I know of 2 politicians who are honest: Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  6. Akabaka

    Alhamduliliah !!
    Whom so ever Allah (Subhana Wa talah) guide no one can misguide and Whom so ever Allah wants to go astray no one can guide.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  7. Michael

    We need to pay attention to what is going on in the world around us – the
    > world in which we live!!!
    > Subject: Muslim Belief
    > This is a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well-known leader
    > in prison ministry. The man who walks with God always gets to his
    > destination. If you have a pulse you have a purpose..
    > The Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion per capita in the
    > United States , especially in the minority races!!!
    > Last month I attended my annual training session that's required
    > for maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training
    > session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman
    > Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who explained
    > each of their beliefs.
    > I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say. The
    > Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a
    > video.
    > After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers.
    > When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked:
    > 'Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and
    > clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the
    > infidels of the world and, that by killing an infidel,
    > (which is a command to all Muslims) they are assured of a place in heaven.
    > If that's the case, can you give me the
    > definition of an infidel?'
    > There was no disagreement with my statements and, without hesitation,
    > he replied, 'Non-believers!'
    > I responded, 'So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of
    > Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so
    > they can have a place in heaven.
    > Is that correct?'
    > The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to
    > that of a little boy who had just been caught with
    > his hand in the cookie jar..'
    > He sheepishly replied, 'Yes...'
    > I then stated, 'Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope
    > John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or
    > Dr. Stanley ordering all Protestants to do the same in order to guarantee
    > them a place in heaven!'
    > The Imam was speechless!
    > I continued, 'I also have a problem with being your friend when you and
    > your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me!
    > Let me ask you a question: Would you rather have your Allah, who tells
    > you to kill me in order for you to go to heaven, or my Jesus who tells me
    > to love you because I am going to heaven and He wants you to be
    > there with me?'
    > You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame.
    > Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the Diversification
    > training seminar were not happy with my way of dealing with the Islamic
    > Imam, and exposing the truth about the Muslims' beliefs.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • britt

      Your story sounded very, very fishy....


      March 25, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  8. Jesus

    He is allowed to believe what ever he wishes to believe.

    What I find interesting is after all the emotion is gone over this issue of Islam what wil the next issue be that politicians use to divide us and make us afraid.

    I want to see a special story on CNN or any other news organization called this:

    When People Realized All Politicians Are Liars!

    March 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  9. Ben

    The "Christian to Mustim" label VERY misleading. I doubt that Mathew Miller was truly a Christian – just because he was named Matthew. It is clear that he never experienced a personal Christian conversion.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Magick

      Christians say that whenever anyone leaves Christianity, whether it's to become a Pagan, Buddhist, New Ager, or whatever. "Oh he must not have been a TRUE Christian."

      Apparently they can't handle the fact that some people have genuine spiritual experiences without Christianity.

      News Flash: Christians don't have a monopoly on God. People can and do have genuine spirituality, in other religions, and without any religion at all.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  10. Nathan

    Unsure of yourself and want to feel empowered? Join a religion! Have a hard time meeting girls? Join a religion! Want to judge others and feel superior to those around you? Join a religion! Want to be a rebel? Join a weird religion!

    March 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  11. Sikh

    search Sikhism

    March 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  12. Andy666

    In the long history of non-news, this is one nice whopper of a non-story.

    If you really want to cover religion, you should try and ask questions of it. That's journalism. Ask the HARD questions, like "Why do you think there is a God?" "Can you prove it?" "So you switched religions, which means you were wrong before. What makes you think you're not wrong this time again?" etc... And follow up on the answers of course.

    But I guess the journalists are afraid of "offending" by asking these questions, since we should leave religion alone and not ask any critical questions that may imply they have no idea what they're talking about...

    March 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  13. enlightenedsoul

    My beloved Christian brothers!! U all need to read the Quran!! Coz Islam is the only religion that gives solutions to every problem of mankind!! ALLAH is the true creator!! Jesus peace be upon him never claimed divinity!! He was a mighty messenger of ALLAH!! and Muhammed Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam is the last messenger and Islam is the way of life now!! This brother is not the only person who came to Islam , millions in the west are finding Islam as the true way of Life! Why???

    March 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • LisaS

      I think 9-11 showed us the Muslim true way of life. And the 'honor' killing. And the shoe bomber, etc.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Marrod

      The truth is religions are a tool that we have to choose from to get to GOD even though one doesn't need to be part of a religion to do so but for some it is destination one uses to worship once we get there. For example we go to a doctors office to visit the Dr. we go to the grocery store to buy food so we go to church, synagogue, mosque to visit GOD. The extremists are the ones who use GODS name in vain to either kill, abuse their wives, become rich, in the name of GOD. GOD sent his son Jesus who was a humble man and his main objective was to teach us to love each other and to die for our sins.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  14. jim

    After all this new convert knows everything about Islam, just like the soldier he was talking to about the mosque. Have a listen to real Muslims who have left their religion like Wallid Shoebat and Bill Salus.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Loulou

      ...and how would he be a 'real Muslim' if he's not a Muslim? WOW UHMM,,, Zionist FAIL much???

      March 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  15. albert

    He jumped from one false religion to another. How sad. In due time, the United Nations agenda of destroying religion (Babylon The Great), will come to fruition. That is why the Bible says “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Rev. 18:4.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Gpr


      If Christianity is a false religion, why are you quoting Revelation?

      March 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  16. Former Mormon

    Human beings authored and compiled books like the Bible and Koran. There is no valid reason to believe any of the world's religions are in fact true. You may think you know, but honestly you really don't. LIke other human beings know the absolute spiritual truth of all things and I'm going to believe them ... HA 🙂 I won't believe any religion as being true until I actually see an angel come down from heaven and tell me what it is.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Magick

      Exactly! ALL religious books were written by MEN. So anyone who puts all their faith into a religious book, is essentially putting their faith into the MEN who wrote it. Yeah, Christians say the bible is from God, but how is that any different from what the Muslims say? As for the koran advocating violence, there is PLENTY of violence in the old testament too! I have no doubt that Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, etc. were ALL advanced souls, and all would be horrified at the religions based on twisted versions of their teachings.

      One need not have religion to have spirituality. Seek within, instead of following man-made dogmas.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • John M

      I agree with you more then anything i have ever seen on any site. People are week minded to depend on something that is not there.
      Good luck in reading your books that have been passed around like a doobie, just wait in another 100 years it will be written again. Lets see how well that goes.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  17. CB

    He dropped one nonsensical and farcical religion to follow another one. The only part of their affirmation statement I agree with is, "...there is no God...".

    March 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • JLS639

      I wonder why I cannot "like" comments on this thread. Anyway, I agree, CB. Isn't it strange to watch Christians and Muslims arguing about religion? It is like watching two people argue if unicorns are pink or white and if believing unicorns are white influences you to do evil.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Cando

      Another Mindless Athiest.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm |


    March 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • albert

      Perhaps Muslims can explain why they kill fellow Muslims, and perhaps Christians can explain why they also kill fellow Christians. Stop bringing reproach upon God's name!

      March 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  19. SCART

    What a sad story.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • LisaS

      The saddest part is that he will be blowing us up 'in the name of allah' soon!

      March 25, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • ???

      What a sad comment.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • charles

      Sad but true. We will NEVER forget 9/11.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  20. 2011

    Wow, as a fellow Muslim, I kind of feel a lil jaleous of your friend (the one you discussed with). The Prophet of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him and His Companions) once said: "there is no greater reward in this Dunia that enlight one's mind to the religion of truth." He told the people that if there is anything more valuable, important than having all the wealth and richess of this Dunia, it's one's action that leads to making a soul knows and believes in Allah. Mahshallah.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • ric

      Do you also hope to have 70 golden little boys and at least 100 fair girls and the vitality of 100 men?

      March 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • zippy


      March 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • blessedgeek

      History says about the crusades that not only mercilessly killed Muslims but massacred both Eastern Christians and Jews.
      History says about the Inquisition that murdered non-conforming Christians and Jews and forced Jews to convert.
      History says the Eastern-Western Christianity disputes and Armenianist-Calvinist disputes has killed more Christians than Muslim-Christian wars. READ your European and Christian history.

      Sadly, today you use the word CRUSADE to name your gospel rallies.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • blessedgeek

      Using the word CRUSADE to spread a message of peace is like using the Confederate flag to spread a message of emancipation from slavery.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • 2011

      I wonder what History you're refering to, but one thing is sure true; we Muslims believe and respect All Messengers of God. History stories tend to lie, God's words on the other hand are eternal truths. The Holy Quran says: You (disbelievers) don't believe in what we (Muslims) belive in. We don't believe in what you believe in. We shall not believe in what you believe. Unto you, your believe and unto us, our believe. So if U feel, felt that Islam is being forced unto You, just know that only God chooses to guide those he wants. More than 2 billion souls believe, you and only those you know don't believe. Why would that give me a headache?

      March 25, 2011 at 6:30 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.