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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. Jackie Treehorn

    You know, Christianity isn't crazy enough. I'm looking for a religion that will allow me to be even more fanatically devoted to imaginary supernatural beings.

    March 26, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • NEWSFLASH

      SODOM AND GOMMORAH HAVE BEEN FOUND! PROOF..pictures, maps etc

      http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/04/The-Discovery-of-the-Sin-Cities-of-Sodom-and-Gomorrah.aspx

      CONCLUSION OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIND:

      When the archaeological, geographical and epigraphic evidence is reviewed in detail, it is clear that the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have now been found. What is more, this evidence demonstrates that the Bible provides an accurate eyewitness account of events that occurred southeast of the Dead Sea over 4,000 years ago.

      March 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • Jill

      Reposting this

      Jill

      Mohammed,
      Do you believe in Sharia law? Do you believe it should be enforced? If you do believe it, and are peaceful person as you say, would you denonuce it?
      Let me see if I get an answer.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  2. Kevin

    BLAH BLAH BLAH MY IMAGINARY FRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOUR IMAGINARY FRIEND LETS FIGHT TO DECIDE WHOSE IS BEST!!!

    March 26, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  3. INTHEKNOW

    You people miss the whole point. The reason for this "story" is to illicit various responses from opinionated readers like yourselves so they can be gaged and studied. Think of it as a social experimentation. The only religion that will dominate the world from this point and in the future, is the god of technology. Think about it. And quit quarreling amongst yourselves.....

    March 26, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  4. Mohamed

    Peace brothers & sisters,

    Most of the news and books says, "Islam preaches to kill non Muslims". It reminds of my grammar class of "how a punctuation can kill a person (Kill him not, leave him – changing comma in front of not will a person's life)".
    Consider reading the Quran in your free time, you will get know by your self.

    Don't trust what you see, what you hear. Do research to find the fact. Try to watch Dr.Zakhir Naik's video in you tube to get to know about Islam.

    May GOD keeps in peace.

    March 26, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Jill

      Mohammed,
      Do you believe in Sharia law? Do you believe it should be enforced? If you do believe it, and are peaceful person as you say, would you denonuce it?
      Let me see if I get an answer.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:24 am |
  5. Suleiman

    All the hate and lies and curses shows the real character of the non-Muslims. No wonder people are converting to Islam, because the Shariah law is against mocking, hating or lying about other peoples faith or beliefs. My experience with talking to non-Muslims has led me to the conclusion that they are not even sincere about learning the truth about Islam. They come on forums and start cursing. Stuff like this only makes the ignorant hater become more hateful and the sincere non-Muslims a convert to Islam and the Muslims into stronger believers in Islam. So it is always a win-win situation for Islam.

    March 26, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  6. Adam Islam

    It's hard to have real-talk on this post as most people have no knowledge of what they are talking about when talking about islam. They hear a few sentences here and there and become "experts" without studying, from a legitmate source, in depth what they are talking about. The least we can do is the let the Qur'an speak for itself.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80h3CVqhQZE

    March 26, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  7. astroobserver

    You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out he hates all the same people you do.–Anne Lamott

    March 26, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  8. Muslim Mercy

    The only way to judge islam is to actually learn about it from it's source. Here's surah (chapter) 3 recited with translation. All of the posters on here should go listen and read.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-DL_Egql3I

    March 26, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • tim stallings

      As with all religions, the Book says one thing and people interpret another to their advantage.

      March 26, 2011 at 8:34 am |
  9. Musa

    Islam is the religion of honesty, truth, and love.
    Thank God I'm Muslim.

    March 26, 2011 at 7:08 am |
  10. WeBreatheIslam

    Congrats brother! Welcome to Islam! For those who aren't familiar with Islam regardless of what you see on the news Islam IS a very peaceful, kind and generous religion. I wish that in the future you would take the time to educate yourself instead of listening to the garbage that's in the Media and the attacks on Muslims in the news. This so far from the truth. Why condemn a whole group for one person's mistake... for those who are interested in learning about Islam visit our site.... http://www.webreatheislam.com

    March 26, 2011 at 6:56 am |
  11. Lu

    CNN would be well advised to post a video of a Muslim who has converted to Christianity. Now that would be good journalism! Give both experiences a chance in the news.

    March 26, 2011 at 6:42 am |
  12. Nwaonumah

    We Christians like Jordan said, should develop the habit of preaching our faith in CHRIST to our family members, friends, relations & the public. Let them know that JESUS is the only way to GOD, there is no other way to GOD except thru CHRIST, any one that goes thru the window (eg: thru Mohammed) is a thief & cant see GOD but satan. From his story, you will see that his mom failed him. In the first place, he knew his mom is not a Christian but a church goer-unstable in her faith. A true Christian will guide his/her children aright. Christians are people who believe in CHRIST JESUS as the only begotten Son of GOD, people who have accepted JESUS as their LORD and personal Saviour. Christians are people who are filled with the HOLY SPIRIT. They love their neighbours as themselves & will always wish everyone & even their perceived human enemies to make heaven at last. No Christian sees any man as an enemy, "for we wrestle not against the flesh & the blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world & spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). Most religions like Islam preaches eye for an eye, war against infidels, hate, etc., while Christianity talks about love, forgiveness, etc.: "for GOD so loved the world, that HE gave HIS only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Why not we face the reality & insure our lives for eternal life instead of gaining the whole world (because we are given the hope of marrying ten virgins in paradise) and loose our souls to eternal damnation at the end. As much as heaven is real, hell is real and awaits those who secretly or openly rejects JESUS CHRIST as their LORD & saviour. I am not trying to play the judge, but that is the divine yardstick: believing & accepting JESUS as your LORD & personal saviour & living like CHRIST qualifies you for heaven.

    March 26, 2011 at 5:22 am |
  13. sonson

    I would like to ask CNN what is their point in printing this story, should we tell you how many muslims converted to christianity and are really deep into their belieff? some of them became preachers. Don't give islam free advertizment on your network, they are taking advantege of you to spread their beleif in America. If you do this for islam, then it is only fair to share good christian stories with us.

    March 26, 2011 at 4:06 am |
  14. Brack

    Who cares?

    March 26, 2011 at 2:39 am |
  15. Jordon

    "after a conversation with a Muslim friend" That is why us Christian"s need to not be afraid & talk about our faith, because "they" are not and will, his christian brethren and family failed this man.

    March 26, 2011 at 2:19 am |
  16. Love4all

    I wish people would give his story a chance and view the program with an open heart and mind. What do you have to lose?

    March 26, 2011 at 2:14 am |
  17. Alex

    damn , a lot of bigots and Islam haters here
    plenty of people changed religion, but this guy , wow how could he convert to Islam .
    tiss tiss

    March 26, 2011 at 2:07 am |
  18. theoldadam

    Well, it's a lot safer (in this world, anyway) to do it that way. Changing from Muslim to Christian is a LOT more dangerous.

    So odd. To throw away the forgiveness of sins and freedom in Christ, for that legalistic, harsh system of intolerance and degradation. Very odd...and sad.

    March 26, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Makes no difference... exchanging one set of fairy tales for another

      March 26, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      its funny you say that!
      almost the ENTIRE CHRISTIANDOM uses the same legalistic, harsh code of penalty to run their societies, and live in peace and harmony. America runs on traffic laws, prisons, jail time, even the electric chair to keep law and order in society. It does not run on the FORGIVENESS OF JESUS. Islam is the same way! It also penalized and offers practical solutions to life's everyday problems.

      March 26, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  19. ED

    There is NO piece and love in islamic's books Quran,The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers what kind of freedom is this -islam has left a trail of blood and tears across world history- YOU BETTER READ THERE ARE HUNDRED OF MUSLIMS CONVERTS TO CHRISTIANTY A DAY - JESUS IS ALIVE AND MUHMAD IS DEAD

    March 25, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      For every Muslim convert to christianity, there are a hundred christian converts to islam. So, your statement that hundreds of christians convert to Islam everyday may not be false, but it is misleading if taken in isolation.

      March 26, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • KRussell

      Open your mind and think about a few things as objectively as you can.
      Your bible accepts selling your daughters into slavery.
      Stining is acceptable punishment for some offences, like working on the sabath.
      The bible was compiled 300 years after JC died, and a major revision happened 700 years later.
      The gospels have different time lines for the resurection.

      The religion you accept so blindly has flaws of its own. Is it really so hard to understand why not everyone wants to join your exclusive little club?

      March 26, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  20. Bob B

    Yeshua, Jesus is still Lord, and Savior of all who believe He is the Son of God and accepts His way; to love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul and strength, and to love your neighbor unconditionally; no strings attached. The first part is easy. The second requirement is far more difficult to do and will be expected of everyone who calls themselves followers of Jesus the Christ. May He have mercy on us all.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • 3rdMLNM

      All true followers of Moses, and David, and Jesus, and Muhammad,
      here is the real "Good News" that has already thus clearly been promised by one and only real GOD in heaven,
      for/within this Last Day (=Millennium)
      in Torah, and Gospel, and Psalms, and Quran;
      right here now:

      http://www.holy-19-harvest.com

      All atheists and agnostics, you will too surely understand that there is indeed a real GOD in heaven,
      who has thus created His UNIVERSE and His WORD in a magnificent "Mathematical Language,"
      basically based on number "19," and the related Fibonacci Sequence, and the Golden Ratio!

      If you thus truthfully seek, you will really find Him; and have a great day, now and forever!

      March 26, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • tim stallings

      The first part is easy! You gotta be kidding me. How can you love someone you've never seen with all your soul and strength. What do you do dream up an image then love it? I believe you can do better than that.

      March 26, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • paperjihad

      This really isn't the place to proselytize; what we should be discussing here is the life of Muslims in America (which is the general point to the article above). As an American Muslim I have noticed a strong up-tick in the amount of rhetoric coming from the Right. I don't think this is haphazard, and I don't think it's because there is some kind of alarming thing going on with American Muslims. Rather, I suspect there is an effort somewhere to make this a national issue to rally the troops behind the GOP. It will almost certainly be an issue in the next presidential election, given a significant number of 'informed' voters think our Arab-named President is, in fact, a Muslim. I suspect it also tells us the GOP doesn't have any useful answers on how to fix the economy and get hard-working Americans back to work.

      The folks in Murfreesboro, TN, have chosen to oppose the local mosque project, demonstrating there is no 'suitable distance' from Ground Zero in which a mosque might be acceptable (at least for the vocal opposition). The site has been vandalized, equipment set on fire, and court actions filed. There has even been an attempt at getting a court to declare Islam a political movement rather than a religion in an attempt to strip the local Muslims of their 1st Amendment rights.

      In the end truth and justice will prevail. But only if we strive for truth and justice. Demagoguery isn't going to get us there.

      Peace.

      March 26, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • MarkP

      Consider the difference of how the Islam faith handles a conversion as compared to the Christian faith, even in the responses you will read here in reply to this article. Today there are Muslim converts in Afghanistan who are in jail simply because they became Christians. Refer to the article at this link to see several examples-these are just the ones the media is reporting on! http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110319/wl_sthasia_afp/afghanistanreligionchristianityislamjusticeunrest

      March 26, 2011 at 12:14 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.