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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. None

    Eros( mind the spelling) is mention in Greek Mythology and in the BIble look it up. My point is really if you have a faith don't tell another person faith is wrong. Really we don't know till we are dead and gone on what really is the outcome. More wars are fought for a persons beliefs in a religion then any other war. If you don't read the Coran or read the Bible don't say their faith is wrong by the actions of some. The War in the Middle east is 3000 years old!!!! Let people be who they want and worry about yourself and yours close to you. Religion is segregation, you have Catholic( mind spelling) Baptist and Lutheren etc...... They read the same book and don't get along, you tell me what is wrong with picture.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  2. Rick

    Islam: Based on the word of a supposed prophet.
    Christianity: Based on the Council of Nicea, whose entire doctrine is based on compromise between people who didn't even agree with one-another. Too bad the trinitarian faction who believes that three equals one (guess they stunk at math, just like you redneck idiots) won.

    Anyway, the one thing that Islam has going for it is that the actual words of the person who started the religion are recorded, as opposed to third and forth-hand accounts

    March 25, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  3. Ein

    A reaction to the loss of faith in Church. Converting from one religion to another is like moving to the next door house thinking its a better neighborhood. If anything, religion should be de-emphasized and more stress on Spirituality is need.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  4. jay

    poor guy, i feel sorry for his family. i guess i was right about that state! another poor soul going straight to HE(double hockey stick). hope you like the weather down there 🙂

    March 25, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  5. CNN taking advantage of you

    What a pointless article (I knew that before I clicked to read it). This is not news. Conversions from one religion to another happens everyday all over the world. The only reason this is on the front page and is considered news is because America right now is obsessed and fearful with anything that is Muslim. CNN is just taking advantage of these ignorant and fearful people.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  6. DoodleSheep

    The only true god is the Flying Spaghetti Monster! May you be touched by his noodly appendage.

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

      YES!!!!! All hail the FSM!!! Marinara be with you!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  7. cnnpeacecnn

    As long as he is looking for someone to tell him who he is, he isn't ready to know.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  8. Alex

    "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."

    You forgot to add "He also dreams of finding a box of money."

    March 25, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  9. Jim

    Wow, and it's not even Easter yet! Normally the media tries to ruffle everyones feathers closer to a religious holiday. A little early this year. I noticed some of the comments have been toned down. That's good. I have noticed some comments pretty much saying all religions are equal and lead to God. B.S. You need to do your homework because they don't. If the best you can do is throw out assertions without facts then you should become a politician.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  10. AsayaYeahyas

    Brainwashed is still brainwashed, just using a different soap.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • MegMeg

      Love it!!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  11. bluepine

    Digging deep into the three major religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), they all believe in the same God but with different methodology. I, christian before, and undecided searcher of faith now, tend to sympatize with the one that shows love and reason to believe without descrediting the other faith. That being said, Christians (not Christianity) are the most vocal haters of other faiths, and historically have commited more sin than the other two in the name of god. Therefore, i hate to say it, but I find more solace and sense in any other faiths than Christianity.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Daktari

      "Christians are the most vocal haters of other faiths". Do you read/understand Farsi or Arabic? Most Christians in the US speak some "form" of English, so my guess is that its all you are hearing/reading. If you want hate, try watching Iranian/Syrian/Palestinian news casts.

      "Christians historically have commited more sin than the other two in the name of god".
      What exactly are you basing this statement on?
      Here is a list of the Worlds Largest Wars... http://tinyurl.com/23ylml8
      Most of them were fought over power, not religion
      If you look at a world map today, I think you will find those areas where Christianity flourished have done pretty well as far as human rights, how women are treated, and how their societies have advanced.
      All that being said, very few people who claim to be Christians actually live the way Christ intended. Its too difficult. Loving you neighbor as yourself? Putting others before yourself? Forgiving 7 time 70?
      All we can do is aspire, and pray for help.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  12. NealR2000

    Attention seeker.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  13. cnnpeacecnn

    γνῶθι σεαυτόν Temet Nosce

    March 25, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  14. Frank In SA

    I don't get it. Muslims on this site treat the Christians as though they are ignorant and the Christians treat the Muslims as though they are ignorant. I personally believe Mohamed was a disgruntled profit that hated the fact that Jesus was so well liked. The bible and the Koran have a great deal of likenesses that the Koran mirrors. Swine, divine being, prophet delivers message, sin. The one God that both Muslims and Christians pray to is probably very frustrated that two sets of people fight so much over something so silly as to who is correct. Muslims need to own up to the fact that the sane ones need to root out the crazy radicals in their religion that are murdering people and the Christians need to own up to the fact that they cannot hide behind their leaders that commit atrocities in the name of doing what is just for others when it is really about oil!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Jeremy N

      i PERSONALLY believe that Jesus Christ was just a carpenter who talked too much

      March 25, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  15. Agnostic Front

    Fairy tales. We wage wars over them, argue about them, spend money on them. And Lord of the Rings and World of Warcraft fans are called geeks? You people (and to define, the word "people" means anyone that fails to take responsibility for their own lives by believing in "forgiveness" from a higher power) are the gremlins in the evolutionary machine. I wish I could go back and bop the first neanderthal that started praying to fire and tell him "STOP IT! IT'S JUST A FIRE!"

    March 25, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  16. todd

    This argument is futile because there is no proof in a belief or non-belief. However Respect for another's belief or non-belief is real. I wish for universal respect.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  17. Hulamama51

    Being "raised" Christian does not make you a Christian....that's a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and evidently he never had that....sorry to see this young man make this choice but it is his choice.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  18. Gonzo

    ...and a religiously confused surfer dude is news...how?

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

      CNN would NEVER do a story about a muslim that converted to Christianity. It is against their DNA. Besides, obama wouldn't like them promoting Christianity and they can't do anything without BOs approval.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  19. dogon

    When are people going to realize that religion is just another method of control. Government can be bad (a necessary evil), but religions are even worse.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  20. David Johnson

    Mathew Miller said, “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.”

    Hmm... He felt he was talking to god. Just like the Christians, think they are talking to god. Or, is prayer just the faithful, talking to themselves?

    So, Mathew asked god, whether or not he was doing the right thing. And god, if the one true god is the Christian god, didn't tell him to become a Jehovah Witness or a Baptist or even accept the baby Jesus. Why would that be?

    Doesn't the King Jimmy say, in Luke 11:9 :

    "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

    One of the most compelling reasons for rejecting god, is the fact that there are so many versions of god(s). Some, not even human (The elephant-faced god – Ganesha etc.). Each religion, each denomination of each religion, defines god's wants differently. All of these religions cannot be right. But they can all be wrong.

    Perhaps man has not yet found the one true god, or perhaps He does not exist.

    Why would the Christian god leave room for confusion? If He exists, wouldn't He want everyone to know He exists and is the one true god?
    1 Timothy 2: 3 – 5 says the Christian god does desire this:
    3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
    4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
    5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

    1. If the Christian God existed, this fact would be obvious.
    So obvious in fact, that EVERYONE, or nearly everyone would believe in His existence. There would be only worshipers of the one true god.

    2. The Christian God's existence is not, in fact, obvious as we would expect, if he existed.
    This fact is evidenced by all the different religions, plus us nasty atheists.

    3. Therefore, the Christian God does not exist.

    Or any other god for that matter. LOL

    Cheers!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Name (required)

      You start with a faulty assumption/conclusion, offering no rationale for assuming it ("Why would the Christian god leave room for confusion? If He exists, wouldn't He want everyone to know He exists and is the one true god?")

      And you have serious breakdowns in logic all along the way. You might need to go back to the drawing board on that one. I've heard atheists give MUCH more stout defenses of their beliefs.

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

      Freewill and faith and like water and oil. Faith is hard enough to have sometimes without freewill jumping in.

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

      What a horrible jump of logic.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Agnostic Front

      @ Anna – So you are saying if you have faith you cannot have freewill? Well thanks for clarifying that! I will take my freewill any day!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Surya

      David,
      Elephant headed Ganesha is one amongst the million pantheon Hindus worship. Neither all Hindus worship Ganesha, nor is any other Hindu uncomfortable with it. Hinduism makes no effort to convert nor does it call for death of people who perceive god in any other form...or even deny the very existence of God. For a Hindu..Jesus is a prophet, Mohammed is a prophet, Buddha is a prophet.
      Truth, God and Beauty cannot be perceived in their entirety by any person (Satyam , Sivam, Sundaram).
      Unlike the Abrahamic religions, for the Hindus the lastword has not yet been said. The last prophet is yet to come.
      Though Christianity and Islam came to South Asia centuries before it went to Europe or Africa, they could'nt outdo these idol worshippers.
      Maybe this dynamism keeps the religion alive, keeps the flock in hope.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:56 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.