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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. Tim

    To each their own. as long as he doesnt take it to the extreme. pray to what ever god you want.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Gary

      Sorry Tim but there is no such thing as Benign Islam. It is, always has been, always will be extream until they accomplish what Mohammad command them. That is that the whole world become an Islamic State and you either are to convert or be killed. So, either fight protecting and preserving your country with it's Christians and Budist and gay neighbors or get rid of us and then get killed by the Muslims. Take your pick.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  2. Scranton

    Why is this news? People converting from one religion to another happens every hour. So this 30 year old who works part time at a golf course and pursuing a worthless degree that will enable him to be a greeter at Walmart has decided that Islam is the new thing in his disorganized life he is going to try. Bet this middle aged man still lives with his mother.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  3. Sa`id

    Let the hate begin. He made his decision made on logic and rationality. This is the TYPICAL face of ISLAM. There is no god but ALLAH. For all those who quickly threw his story aside and went with the same rhetoric, have you read the Quran which you hate. Have you looked into the religon you have been so quick to dismiss.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Scranton

      Are you serious? Made his decision on logic and rationality. He can't even hold a real full time job. He is 30 years old and living with his mother working part time at a public golf course. Look at this guy.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Nyarlathotep

      Sa'id:

      There is no god.

      There; fixed it for you.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  4. RW

    Hello, wake up and smell the coffee! There is no god. Just corruptible human beings who sway the weak and illiterate with religion. One does not need religion to be a moral or ethical law abiding citizen.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • thorrsman

      You made the claim, now show your proof.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  5. crash112

    This is such a dramatic story. a creepy 30 yr old "college student" cant get a date, worn out by the drug scene and no good at video games decide to choose a controversial " religion" so people will know how truely unique he really is. he sounds like the perfect terrorist recruit. you'll be reading about this clown trying to board a plane with a crotch full of explosives with in the next 2 years. too bad there wasn't a scientology center in his town.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Tarayn

      Because Scientology is a completely SANE religion! BAHAHAHA!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • thorrsman

      @Tarayn
      Nah, simply because Scientology is the sort of scam that USUALLY scoops up such losers to be their foot-soldiers. At least Scientology is just a money-making scam and not likely to send out a fanatical convert with a bomb in his shorts.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  6. Frankly Speaking..

    and you spent 15 mins to read the article and follow up with your opinion..wait, you did not have anything better to do anyways 🙂

    March 25, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  7. Belle2004

    Well CNN, we all know whose side you are on. Why was this news worthy? So are you going to do a story about a Muslim converting to Christianity? I'm sure you wouldn't dare.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      there arent many dear..you find us one and we will see

      March 25, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • RW

      Exactly. This is a sympathy piece of media propoganda. The media should investigate why people believe in such ridiculous notions as god and why people are so ready to fall for the sham called religion.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  8. BilgeTonyukuk

    These things happen when you forget where you came from and disrespect your ancient cultures. This is what happenened to the Turks, but the Turks have a tool, an Islam destroying tool, the saz, OUR ancient hardrive, which is the voice of our ancestors, indeed, power beyond death, which will allow us to annihilate this needless arab drivvel once and for all. Turkuler susmaz.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  9. Jesser

    I for one am not a religious person. But the bible says 'love thy neighbor', yet so many people who do believe in any god, spirit, fat man with four arms or whatever, are usually the first to condemn their 'neighbor'. Truth is, there are MANY nut jobs in any religion, some claim that the actions they do are in the name of some god...it does not matter what race, religion or creed a person is, PEOPLE do bad things because they choose to do bad things. Just because someone is muslim does not mean that the person is a 'terrorist' no more then someone who is catholic, is a 'child molester'. Grow up people and open your eyes. Stop the hate and negativity already!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  10. Endless Jihads

    Why are so many people willing to waste their lives believing in such stupidity as religion. Seriously, use your brain and wake up. It's a scam and you are deluded if you can't let go of such irrational beliefs. If there ever was a god, he is long been dead, just like all things die. The only thing that created you are your parents. Worship them.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  11. Joe

    Why is this interesting, many people do faith changes, many religions support violence, time for man to progress and be enlightened. If being humane at all times is against God, well we are really in trouble.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  12. OpenThreads

    The article claims a conversion from Christianity to Islam, but nothing is said about his previous "Christianity" except: "he was raised a Christian." I doubt he was, specially with a Mother would say this in reaction to hearing her son's now a Muslim: "‘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.’" Real strong Christian mother there, heh.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  13. DesertRose

    I dont think it is a big deal if some one converts to Islam..but it is problematic if it is the other way round (islam to Christ)..you will be called kaafir and be killed (many stories in the middle east)..and people who do the killing can justify from their holy books that they did a righteous deed...only this speaks volumes about this 'great peaceful' religion..

    March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  14. Religious

    It's very sad that Christians in this country are so bigoted and so self righteous. It didn't use to be this way. In the past it didn't matter what religion you were. I'm a Christian and my character represents Christ. But because of crazy Christians that have done insane things to their family and other people. And because of how intolerable Christians are today. If I said I was a Christian in another country I probably would be looked very badly upon. I submit that this is the same thing that is happening with the Muslims in our country today. Islam is not a bad religion in and of itself. I believe there will be many many if these brothers in God's kingdom. But it's because of the wicked few that have done terrible things because they view there religion in such a radical way that causes Christians to feel this way about Islam period. But to all this who don't care to learn about this religion, at least look in the mirror and change yourself before u start judging someone elses character and heart. Because Christianities past and present is rittled with the same kind of wicked, radical, hateful, abusive people who hide their ways with their own view of their religion!!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • jeff

      Well said.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Paul Lytle

      You may call yourself a Christian but obviously you have no idea what the BIBLE says. You better get back into the word and understand what the bible states on other religions and when your knowledgeable on what the bible says then you can come back and give your opinion on Christians because at this point you call yourself a Christian but absolutely have no clue!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Nyarlathotep

      Religious, if it makes you feel better, I'll clarify that I'm an atheist before I say that Islam is a bad religion. See? Not only Christians oppose the goofy goatherding prophet.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  15. Johnny

    So he's exhanging one set of loony beliefs for another. Big deal.

    But at least he's still worshipping the same god. As many religious scholars will tell you, the Jewish, Christian and Muslim gods are all one and the same god.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Tarayn

      At least someone caught that! It seems to me the whole big difference between the two is the fact that they believe Mohammed is the messenger of God instead of Jesus.. It's the same story, with different specifics..

      March 25, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  16. Klowe

    I will pray for this man & all other men that put any other God before Jesus Christ. He is the son on the living God, the only God! God sent his son to save us from sin & have everlasting life. There is no other way but by the son. Confess with your mouth that he is King Of Kings & Lord of Lords! He has gone to prepare a place for only the saved that have excepted him & put him first before all things. Oh what a glorious day that will be.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Linda

      quack-a-doodle-doo.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • John Sharp

      I hope you do pray for him and that makes you feel better about your beliefs. The pathetic arrogance of one silly religion believing that it is the true religion is hilarious.
      Religion has nothing but kept some men and women ignorant and it tells them that their ignorance is the only true knowledge. Historically we have seen time and time again where science directly contradicts their beliefs, and they scream and shout heresy, only to eventually have to concede with the over whelming evidence.
      These people and their "beliefs" continue to hold back progress.
      It would be fine if they just kept it to themselves and didn't have such a strong cultural influence but unfortunately they do in this country.
      Christianity's influence in this country is just as ridiculous as if Greek Mythology was the predominant religion and their beliefs influenced our decisions.
      They don't because we all know they are silly and eventually the same will be true for Christianity. It cant come soon enough for me.

      Just hilarious.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Truefax

      I had a good friend in college that was a firm believer like you. I have a simple question for you. Was Jesus not a Jew? Did he not worship how they did?
      Now ask yourself where is the testament of Christ? Now ask yourself who really invented Christianity the way it's practiced now. Go and for a little bit of your life do just a little tiny bit of study then come back and we'll talk.

      (he converted to Judaism just an fyi)

      March 25, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Tom R

      @John Sharp.. Ok, let's talk... 2+2=4, 10×10=100. those are facts, I believe them to be true. does that make me arrogant? or ignorant? or here's another one... intolerant? I'll accept the last one. I am intolerant if someone says 2+2=7. Truth has no agenda. It is.

      So let's rewind your comment about science, "science directly contradicts their beliefs". Your science vs. my religion is a non-argument unless you'll admit one thing to me. Your "science" is your religion. Just because you believe billions and billions of years ago, something happened, doesn't make it science. You're basing your position on your faith that it could have happened that way (because I don't want to believe the alternative). "Science" and "Origins" are not the same. Science is experimentation, observation, repeatable results, conclusions. Finding a tiny fossil and saying it's 400 million years old is your belief based on hypothesized truth not repeatable science.

      No, this is not hilarious. It's deadly serious. Eternity is at stake.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • AnotherUser

      Most non-muslims don't know that the "God" that muslims believe in is the same one that Jesus is the "son" of. Muslims just consider Jesus to be a "creation" of God and a messenger rather than "son" more similar to Adam who he created from clay and breathed life. NOT like a "son" that I'm of my father of my son is like to me. The term "son" when used for Jesus decreases the miracle of God so much its offensive.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  17. adam

    “I bear witness that there is no God...", well, at least the first eight words are true.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  18. Richard Cranium

    So much hate on here. You know the ignorant AM radio conservative talk show disciple rednecks come out of the wood work when the word Muslim is mentioned. They are just following orders from their fake conservative globalists masters.....baaa baaa

    March 25, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Goose66

      That's an interesting perspective. Most of the comments I read are from atheists ridculing and deriding all religious beliefs. Is that not at least as hateful and much more intolerate? I think your hatred of Conservatives prevent you from seeing things objectively, and thus being able to contribute anything other than hate and derision to this conversation.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  19. Truefax

    Look folks here's the stroy. Ask a man to believe in a Creator God that made everything in the universe, a God that is the final judge of our actions. Now that God has a want to forgive our sins but is impotent to do so until he manifests on Earth by impregnating an underaged Jewish girl with his seed. THEN offering that child as a blood sacrifice (to himself?).

    That is one lame a$$ God, sorry. But if you have children or pets and they make an epic mess of everything could YOU not fogive them without a sacrifice of what should be the most beloved among them? Christiantiy is fundimentally flawed in many ways this person chose Islam, others choose Atheism, others become Jewish, other turn to zen or hinduism. Any thinking human being should be able to understand that christianity as a spiritual outlet makes ZERO sense.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Simple Math

      The Singularity the caused the Big Bang would be a MIRACLE, since it would result in nothing and something being equal. This means mathematically that 0=1. Makes a lot of sense to me.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Truefax

      @simplemath, the question's not how the universe was created; I will give you the fact that God created the universe. Let's not bother with the whole big bang billions of years creation, let’s talk Genesis baby. 6 days to make every star planet animal plant in the whole damn thing.

      I would say that's one b1tchinly powerful God right there, I mean 6 days baby WOW even over billions of years that’s truly divine. Now simple stay with me here for some reason that same God holds a grudge against humanity. But he still loves humanity, and wants to forgive them. But he CAN'T until he knocks up a sweet little Jewish girl and then murders their offspring. Christianity itself is a blood libel on GOD.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  20. Darwin

    So the fellow once believed in a DERANGED GALILEAN CARPENTER, and now he believes in a DERANGED ARABIAN GOATHERDER. This is proof that the human mind needs a few more years of evolution before we stop believing that elaborate human-created fantasies are real!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Goose66

      A "deranged" Galilean carpenter that was about peace, versus a "deranged" Arabian goatherder that wanted to build an empire and kill all infidels. I do see a difference. Even if you believe both of them were disillusioned as to the existence of God, the message and its impact on society is important.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Darwin

      Sorry Goose66 but Jesus clearly states that he comes NOT in peace, but with the sword (Matthew 10:34
      “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword")

      March 25, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Goose66

      Interpret that as you will. If literal words in a book written by man is your basis, so be it (although I would hope the irony of being an atheist yet quoting the Bible is not lost on you). Another way to look at it is the path that these two "prophets of God" walked and the lessons they taught.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:42 am |
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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.