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. Ran

    Exchanging one crackpot religion for another shouldn't be considered news.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  2. Dboy66

    It's good he has found the truth of Islam! HAHAH This article is going to make Christians go crazy..I love it.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  3. william

    Why is this such big news? This should not surprise anyone. God's Word plainly tells how and why this happens (1 John 2:19). The real fact is there are many thousands more leaving Islam and turning to Jesus Christ.

    Know that the God of the Bible warned (Gal. 1:8) of the curse for receiving a different gospel delivered by an angel over 600 years before the Koran was given to Mohammed. If people only knew what God said they would not be so easily moved from the faith.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  4. Clint

    I doubt this man really believes anything. I think he just wanted attention. How do I base this. He put his story on the news, and did not keep it private. Spiritaul journeys with a showy display, just tells me, your not living life. Your playing it!!!

    March 25, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  5. Dev

    Wow I'm really impressed with CNN's continuing agenda of promoting the deadly ideology of Islam...

    Hey CNN....show us that your honest and without bias and highlight all those muslims that have left Islam for Christianity!??

    Yeah....like CNN will ever do that...gutless cowards.....and will CNN ever report what happens to those muslims that leave Islam?? Oh no ....of course not....Islam teaches the death of apostates!!

    March 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  6. Weep4America

    The man in this article was never a Christian to begin with, according to the Bible. 1 John 2:19 says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us."

    Those genuinely born again endure in faith, fellowship and the truth. (1 Corinthians 11:19 and 2 Timothy 2:12). The ultimate test of true Christianity is endurance. (Mark 13:13 and Hebrews 3:14).

    There are many people who call themselves Christians but really aren't because they aren't living the lifestyle. Those are the people who damage what Christianity really is. I can wear an orange robe, shave my head, chant and call myself a Hare Krishna but, unless I'm LIVING OUT what they believe, I'd be a fake and damaging who the Hare Krishnas really are. It's the same with Christianity.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Cry Me A Rver

      Here's a bible passage for you: Matthew 7:1.

      March 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Weep4America

      First of all, I didn't judge him. Facts are not judging. Learn the difference. Secondly, how original of you to misquote the most mis-used Bible verse in history. Do a little reading on what that verse really means and then learn to use it in context with a conversation where it actually applies.

      March 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Weep4America

      By the way, if I used that verse the same way you used it with me, then I could quote it right back at you for your comment. By your example, anyone who disagrees with another person is judging them and you can throw that verse in their face. Wrong and hypocritical because you're doing the exact same thing.

      March 25, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  7. neptonomist sentry

    So some hillbilly in Tennessee was one kind of sheep, then he chose to be another kind of sheep. This is an actual story?

    March 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Weep4America

      It's as much a story as why God haters read articles in a Belief Blog about religion to begin with.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  8. mat

    Wake up people. If Islam or Christianity were gifts from God, do you really think so much destruction, hate, anger, killing, and pride would have occurred from them? Stupid is what stupid does.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  9. Hello

    No matter what we believe or have faith in one day we will all find out what is the truth (death will tell, or we will find facts that cannot be disputed). Whether it be evolution, Christianity, Islam, Budhism (hope I spelled right), money, ourselves, mother nature, aliens, or anything else. Everyone one of those things I have mentioned are all speculation even evolution, and for the scientist out there who know unequivically without a doubt that all of sciences hypothesis are basically fact just remember that a few hundreds of years ago scientist believed the world was flat and earth was the center of the universe. Recently there is a arguement in the astro-physics community that there was some sort of existance of matter before the big bang, so my point is that science is changing all the time (which is a good thing, were are getting smarter as humans). Yet and still these are hypothesis and I am sure in 100 years from now scientist will look back on our era and laugh at the stuff we thought to be scientfic fact. I am a Christian by choice and whatever you believe is fine with me, I wish you nothing but love and happiness. I hate the fact that some religions (Christianity) deny the findings of science and reason. I am not trying to get anyone to convert to anything but I urge everyone one to not look at religion as some mystical snake charming act (lol) but to take in all available information from different religions, science, and reason and make an informative decision on what you believe is right. If you feel the need to try and bring someone to your side, do so in a loving manner not with insults on intelligence or fire and brimestone. Furthermore do not ridicule an individual for believing something different. I read a post saying there will not be a religion 100 years from now in America, I do not believe that. I do believe if we do not start trying each other with respect as American citizens there will not be an American in 100 years because we could not live in peace due to our beliefs. My biggest fear is that the ultimate elite and rich in the world, the people the control the agenda of CNN and Fox are creating an atmosphere were we are all figthing with each other while they sit back and get richer and we get poorer. I am not talking about people like Beck, O'Reiley, A. Cooper, or whoever else out there that poeple look to for their political and moral guidance, and I am speaking of the people behind the scenes. I am not a conspiracy guy by anymeans but please do not be fooled. Countries are like corporations, and Presidents, Prime Ministers, Dictators, are the equivilant of CEO's of companies they report to the Board of Directors, the uber elite.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  10. Jamez

    Religion – whether Christianity, Islam, Judaeism etc ... are all the same. No one truly follows their holy books for if they did, they would all be extremists. People choose to pick and choose what they want out of the books. Its a shame people judge others by the religion they follow rather than the kind of person they really are. Simply because one is a Jew, Christian or Muslim, does not make them a bad person.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  11. Not Impressed

    This person was not a true Christian; otherwise, he could not have been convinced of the untruths of the Islam religion.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Not Impressed wrote: "This person was not a true Christian; otherwise, he could not have been convinced of the untruths of the Islam religion."

      As opposed to being convinced of the untruths of the Christian religion?

      They're all based on a bunch of ancient fairy tales...

      March 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  12. Garrick504

    To these "Christians" who chastised this young man, I feel sorry for you. Many of your posts reveal deep ignorance. I truly believe that 99% of you who say "...Read the Koran ... it will tell you ...." have never even read a word of it.

    As a Christian scholar, and a student of the Bible, I challenge you to read the Koran and the Bible - 90% similarity, with many identical ideas.

    Time to stop the ignorance and the hate- open your mind, and READ!

    March 25, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Todd

      Thou Shalt not lie. Let's hope you are nowhere near being finished a "student" of the Bible. Muslims do not believe that Jesus was the one true Son of God who was crucified, buried and resurrected by the power of the one true God. That part must take up the other 10% where they are not similiar. A pretty significant part considering Jesus stated that he is the way the truth and the life and no man will enter his Father's kingdom except through him. Also, it's kind of ridiculous to state your supposed credentials in this type of forum when you can't prove them. Anyone who is able will recognize this as a satanic method of deception.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  13. Not Impressed

    This person was never a true Christian; otherwise, he would not hae been fooled the untruths of Islam

    March 25, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  14. britt

    How about a story on people in the Middle East converting to Christianity?

    March 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • charles

      Impossible as the "tolerant" Muslims burned their churches and killed the members.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • MyBrotha

      You do know that there are more Muslims in South Asia than the middle-east right? Not every Muslim is middle-eastern.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  15. Carlos

    There is only one God, It doesn't matter in what religion you are. I am Christian but I really do not believe in religions. Religions were invented by men , not by God. Muhammed, Jesus , Buda and othe profets never found any religious movement, they only bring a beautiful message of love for mankind, then men have made divisions because it's selfishness and ignorance about God.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  16. Gom

    Whether you are Christian or Muslim or Jewish or whatever...it doesn't really matter. No one can tell you what to believe and what is actually true. The fact is...Islam does not live side by side with any other religion before massive conflict erupts. If this young man wants to be a Muslim, he should move to a nation that is Muslim. Multuculteralism is an absolute failure. Just look at Europe. America is a Christian nation and we should protect our culture and heritage before we end up with another civil war.

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

      how sad.. does anyone think the KKK was any better than terrorists? but does that mean that ALL Christians are bad? I have friends from several beliefs and cultures. And we love each other. There will always be one person out there that has fallen off a cliff, that doesn't mean we're all terrible. And that goes for all cultures and religions!

      March 25, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • ramram

      I wasn't aware that the U.S.A. are a Christian nation, I'd like to hear from you just when that was recently established, and by whom? Just maybe, the founding fathers were Christians, but they sure were wise enough not to put that particular brand on the whole nation and its varied citizenry. While it is in word "One nation under God" it is also written that the State and Church are to be separate and keep out of each others affairs. If you truly believe in a maker & judge type of God figure, you must admit that there can only be one such true God. Water by any other name is still water – if you are thirsty, drink of it! Oh, and leave some for others too, please!

      March 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  17. Dillard

    Have the dude move to Iran and see how he likes it!

    March 25, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Wow-Just-Wow

      Iran doesn't represent all of Islam just as the KKK and white supremicists represent Christianity.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  18. charles

    Islam is a trojan horse. Don't be fooled like we were on 9/11/

    March 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  19. Sammy

    Surah 2:190-194 Fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight you . . . and kill them wherever you catch them . . . if they fight you, kill them. Such is the reward of those who suppress the Faith . . . And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah.
    Surah 2:244 Fight in the cause of Allah
    Surah 4:89 If they turn apostates, seize them and kill them wherever you find them.
    Surah 4:91 Seize them and kill them wherever you get them.
    Surah 5:33 The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and his apostle . . . they shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall be struck off alternately, or they shall be banished from the land.
    Surah 5:51 O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends.
    Surah 9.5 So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful....this is known as the verse "of the sword" and it explains that muslims must fight anyone who chooses not to convert to Islam..
    it is considered to represent the final development of Jihad in Islam
    This is not all of it but is it enough to show you Islam is a religion of hate? if not your simply hiding your head in the sand...

    March 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • saladin

      Hi Sammy,
      If you take any sentence(Ayah) out of context, it would give any meaning..
      Let's say this: Muslims say "There is No God But Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah", so If I just say "There is No God" without the complete sentence, then I we Athiest..
      The sentences(Ayah) you quote should be understood in the context of it;s revelation..

      March 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • for saladin

      You are going to play the scriptural "context" card on this? Really? How many was can you take "kill them" out of context? Don't pee on me and tell me its raining. Islam brings a sword and swings it at the head of every Christian and Jew alive that won't confess in Allah and "the messenger."

      March 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Stop the Hate

      These ayah you quote were actually sent down during time of war, when the early Muslims were being driven out of their homes, property stolen, and killed. As a matter of fact, Prophet Muhammad refused to fight against his enemies until he received revelation to do so. If you don't know the context in which you are speaking, it's best to leave it alone because all you do is continue to spread ignorance which is why a lot of people have a misconstrued view of Islam now. However, I've learned people like you don't care to really learn about Islam, but rather spit on it. Despite all of this, Islam has been and continues to be the fastest growing religion in the world and there is nothing you or anyone else can do about it. One more thing: if even a majority of muslims really believed terrorism was okay, just about every nation in this world would be at war because as you probably are unaware there are over 1.5 billion muslims in the world. I challenge you to meet one muslim and what you will find is that they want the same thing as you. Freedom, peace and a safe world in which to raise their families.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Margaret Hardy

      Well this is the problem with Christians.Its the bible or nothing.I respect Christianity and have read the bible and find it to be a great book.Jesus was one of the greatest prophets to walk this earth.Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin.his birth was a miracle but he is not the son of god, and this is what angers Christians.if you believe in it then thats all that matters.there is no need to try and convince other religions to believe it. And history will tell you that Christians did kill in the name of God (Religion) so please do not try to make Muslims look like we are all about killing.Islam is a great religion so is Christianity.Buddhists,and Hindus.We will all meet at one road at the end.

      March 25, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  20. Earl

    The simple truth is that the Father sent His Son to buy back lost humanity. Islam is a lie that denies Jesus as Son of God. It is the religion of the anti-Christ which is plainly seen by its doctrine. None who trust in it are going to escape THE ETERNAL LAKE OF FIRE. Islam saves no one. Jesus saves everyone who believes. Stories like this are something to ponbder as one seeks the truth of which God is real. http://www.sethbarnes.com/?filename=another-story-of-raising-the-dead

    love ya, Earl

    March 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Dr. Strangelove

      Idiots like you are something to ponder on as America becomes dumber.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • MyBrotha

      Ok. But you are wrong. We are not anit-Christ, we actually believe that he was a prophet of God. But not his son.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Earl

      In the eyes of the Lord to deny that Jesus is the Son of God is to place ones self in alignment with the father of lies that being satan. It is a simple step of logic to see that if there was another way to escape the lake of fire then God was a fool for sending His Son to the brutal cross as the atonement for mankinds sin. If there is more then one way to heaven what was the point? But there is no other way except by trusting in what Jesus did not what we can do.
      “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. ” (1 John 2:22, NASB95)
      Christians do not go crazy when a brother turns from the Lord to a worthless way. They mourn knowing that they have left all hope for nothing. We love Muslims as God created all men in his image and I also appreciate the many of them who have a sincere desire to know God and escape the coming judgment. It is a horror to know that they are missing the love of the Father, the Son and the Spirit of God and exchanging this sweet fellowship for the lie. You see I know God, have walked with Him, been caught up to the heavenly throne room and seen many healings that Jesus did when I prayed. He is real, my dearest friend and loyal. I sure hope you talk to him and tell him you want to know Him and the power of His resurrection
      .love ya, earl a prophet of the Living God

      March 25, 2011 at 7:28 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.