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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. Bryan

    Why not just drop religion entirely? It's all crap. Think for yourself, live a good life, and be happy.

    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."
    – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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

      I like Karl Marx's version better.
      "Religion is the opiate of the masses."

      March 25, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  2. TTS777

    As a Christian I respect his decision. I guess we Christians need to remind ourselves time and again what Jesus actually taught us – "love your neighbours as yourselves" – Mark 12:28-31 & "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them" – Luke 6:32.

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

      Wow! Refreshing comment from a Christian! I am a cynical former Christian who wishes more "Christians" would be actual Christians like you seem to be. Christ taught love and respect. You seem to be embracing love and respect. Good for you!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  3. ygnabb

    Hey, whatever. Pick any religion you want. They all sell the same thing: empty promises.

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

      One of the smartest things ever said here.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  4. gene

    If that movie got him hooked I would guess he liked the part of women being under total control by men, and THAT was the appeal of islam.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  5. Rick

    I can't wait until you SOUTHERN KU KLUX KLAN REDNECKS lose your welfare and can't afford internet. Then I won't have to read you bigoted drivel.

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

      IIsn't it NEW YORKERS that don't want a ground zero mosque?

      March 25, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  6. Jeff

    It's funny anyone would ever switch from one religion to another religion. If anything, the switch should be from one religion to "I can think for myself and won't be told how to live". Obviously this guy likes to be directed, whether it's by a Bible or a Quran.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  7. lee smith

    Discovered he was a Muslim at Disney World? Hmmm... I knew there was something weird about that "magical" place.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  8. Sid

    Isn't odd for someone to switch from one religion in which they had absolute faith to a different religion in which they also have absolute faith? Doesn't this prove that faith is NOT a path to certainty?

    I've never understood how people could CHOOSE their religion as if religion was a buffet. All religions are mutually exclusive. To believe one is to reject the others. A convert must understand that the very fact of their conversion PROVES that their faith can be misplaced. And if their faith in their first religion was misplaced, it might also be misplaced in their second. I hope that this young man acknowledges that in ten years he might be a Buddhist.

    And even within a given religion, people still pick and choose the tenets that they accept or reject. How many Catholics do you know who use condoms? If your religion is based on the word of god, you CANNOT disagree with any aspect of it. And if you claim that some aspects of your religion are open to interpretation, then ALL aspects must be open to interpretation, and NONE are absolute.

    Face it, religions don't tell people what to think and how to act. People choose what to think and how to act based on the content of their character, and THEN pick or invent a religion that justifies their choices as the will of god. Religion is just a big rationalization for the things we've already decided to do.

    Sid

    March 25, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  9. bubbyboy

    Unfortunately, allah is not the god who created the universe, God, who created all things offers you eternal life, allah does not. God the father of creation loves you, allah does not. God the father changes you when you come to Him to receive Jesus, allah does not offer you Jesus nor does he change you. There are no benefits to serving allah other than martyrdom thru suicide....I'm sorry but its the truth.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • brad

      You dont have a clue who allah is? Allah is the god of abraham. Just another name. The Koran and the old testament are almost identical. The only divergence is that the Koran (who mentions jesus on multiple occassions) doest buy into the son of god tag line. In the koran jesus is a phrophet just like moses. I personally find it all to be hogwash.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Jim M

      Another judgmental Christian who refuses to follow Jesus while claiming to follow him. It's sad.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  10. Some Guy

    Religion doesn't concern me as long as you remember that you're in the US and to follow our laws, not your religious doctrines. There will be no “eye for an eye” or “off with my wife’s head”.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • brad

      That goes for your christians that want to influence right to privacy, who I can marry, and what I want to do with my body as well.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  11. BilgeTonyukuk

    Btw this is sounded like a generic article. Nothing really newsworthy or unique surrounding this guys conversion. "Yup, so I changed religion, Its really great" bye

    March 25, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Dallas5superrings

      Slow news day

      March 25, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  12. Dan

    Let me see. Which fairy tale should I believe? This is going to keep me up all night.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • brad

      RIght on, who is to say which religion (that worship the same god) is the correct one. Id rather just keep faith in what I can see, touch, or feel the affects of.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  13. Mary Desroches

    Another confused dude.....

    March 25, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  14. Mrs. H

    Ironic. Had it been the other way around, him telling his mother that he was converting from Islam to Christianity, would she have had the same open-hearted response? Doubtful.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  15. Ralph T

    The only person who would convert from Christianity to Islam is someone who didn't have a testimony of Christ as Redeemer of the world in the first place. If one really knows (not just believes) that Christ is the Savior there is no reason to convert. I believe that many who do make this conversion have been disillusioned by pseudo-Christianity; namely, those Christian sects that claim to be Christian but who bear little or no resemblance to the church that Christ established.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • bubbyboy

      Amen, see my blog below, its under bubbyboy.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Ralph T

      Actually, Allah could very well be the same God that created the universe. The disconnect is where Christ comes into the picture; Muslims accept him as a prophet but not as the Son of God. In my mind, however, this position is illogical based upon what Christ has said. You see, He went about proclaiming He was the Son of God. Now, a person like that is either what he says he is or he is crazy; there is no middle ground like "he was a good man". So accepting Christ as a good prophet while rejecting his Sonship is a copout to the real issue (namely, deciding whether He really was who He said He was).

      March 25, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • brad

      The church that Christ established died when he did. The only thing that is left is a bunch of old white power hungry men that are using people innate fear of dying as a cash cow. Jesus taught love your neighbor as yourself. He didnt look down on anyone. He said turn the other cheek. Todays church teaches burning Korans, eye for an eye, and hating anyone different than you.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Jim M

      Most have no resemblance at all. Most are nothing more than reformed sects of Judaism, living primarily in the Old Testament, where hate and judging is easy to do.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Ralph T

      In my mind, for a church to be the one Christ established (and not just one built up FOR Him as opposed to BY Him), there must be 12 apostles and a living prophet. I find nothing in the Bible that declares we need no more prophets. I also believe there must be continuing revelation because God's work is not done (Christ's is, but not God's).

      March 25, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Hulamama51

      Couldn't agree more !

      March 25, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Dean

      Wow – It's Christians like you that give sensible Christians a bad name... Please bring yourself back down to Earth and admit the obvious fact that no one can "know" their religion. There is a problem with religion in general and it is that some have lost sight of the fact that one can only "believe" their religion. They think they "know" and use that as justification for killing, fighting, shouting down, running out of business, or otherwise mistreating others.

      Faith is believing without knowing. Do those of you who think you "know" your religion then have no faith?

      Now, speaking of those who use who are extremists... They're the ones who would say they "know" their religion. The guy this article is about doesn't seem to give any indications of being an extremist, but it seems that his religion is based upon, and in many (millions) cases exhibits, the intolerance of extremism. I feel I would be a an absolute fool to trust anyone of his religion.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Ralph T

      I believe it is possible to know a religion is true. That's not to say one then has license to force it on anyone else. "Knowing" something is true is an intensely personal thing. I can know that God lives or that Christ is the Savior or that a church is true the same way I can know the wind exists – I don't see it but I witness it's effects.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Ralph T

      I remember an episode of the old sci-fi series BABYLON 5 that really drove home a relationship between the many religions of the world. There was this main character named Kosh. No one knew what Kosh looked like because he always wore a large suit that covered his entire body (including his head). Leaving this special suit meant certain death for him. Anyway, in this episode the ship's captain was falling from an overhead gondola. It was certain he would die when he hit the ground. All of a sudden Kosh's suit opened up and he came out, looking much like a heavenly angel. He rose up through the air and caught the captain before hitting the ground, saving the captain's life. Unfortunately, this sacrificial act meant the end of Kosh's life. Afterwards, those who had been present to witness the event discussed what had happened. This is the point I'm trying to make: even though each of these witnesses – each from a different world or race – had seen the event they each described it a different way. To each of them, it was the image of their own god who had risen up to save the captain.

      I believe that the supreme god of all world religions could very well be the same being, just described a different way according to their separate cultures and experiences. But there is one very real difference, and that difference is Jesus Christ. No religion but Christianity offers a perfect savior to atone for the sins of the world. No other world religion offers a redeemer to save the world from sin. Christ stands alone in that regard. He was not just a good man. He was not just a prophet of God. Jesus Christ was (and is) the Savior of all mankind. That's what separates Christianity from the rest. We may all have the same Supreme God (or Father), but it is only in and through Christ that we are saved. He alone was the Son of God, sent here for a special mission that He alone could accomplish and for which He alone was foreordained. That's what makes Christianity so special and unique. The challenge now is to find the Christian church set up BY Christ and not simply FOR Him.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  16. stubbycat

    Many religions, like many commercial interests, use aggressive hypnotic suggestion to win "customers." The unguarded, unenlightened, unwashed animalized human mind is susceptible to these unhealthy influences. Jesus taught that Mind was the principle of the universe including man but the Mind he manifested and which healed and raised from human death was Divine Mind, the consciousness of perfect God and perfect man, completely spiritual. This is the difference between the mortal and the immortal practice of life, truth and love. Mortal mind, whatever it calls itself and however it appears, is still the fleshly, carnal consciousness that bedevils itself continuously in its opposition to Love and its idea. "A reborn turkey is still a turkey."

    March 25, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  17. Courier

    This article is a diversion. It is a propaganda piece for Islam. CNN Continues in it's leftist ways

    This guy is blind to reality as well. He has been sold a "Bill of Goods".

    March 25, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Bryan

      A Bill of Goods just like Christianity.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  18. S Y Lee

    Islam in Malaysia is Supreme and other religions including Christianity, are second class, and now the Goverment of Malaysia defaced more than 60,000 bibles ie serialized these bibles and on each bible has a chop warning readers "for christian only........let us as Christians unite and condemn this action.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  19. EmperorObama

    Welcome aboard my Islamic brother.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  20. joe

    Why should you care wut ur neighbor's religion is?

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

      Because it might instruct them to kill YOU.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:30 am |
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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.