CNN’s Belief blog has a brief interview with Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. I’ve always been fascinated by stories of people converting from Christianity to other faiths, so I had high expectations for the article (Ellison was raised a Catholic and went to Catholic schools before converting to Islam). Unfortunately, Ellison’s story is not particularly revelatory, though it does strike me as a very American approach to faith:
Though Ellison’s status as the Muslim elected to Congress is widely known, fewer are aware that he was born into a Catholic family in Detroit and was brought up attending Catholic schools.
But he said he was never comfortable with that faith.
“I just felt it was ritual and dogma,” Ellison said. “Of course, that’s not the reality of Catholicism, but it’s the reality I lived. So I just kind of lost interest and stopped going to Mass unless I was required to.”
It wasn’t until he was a student at Wayne State University in Detroit when Ellison began, “looking for other things.”
He doesn’t have an elaborate explanation of what led him to convert to Islam in college, though he said he was “drawn to the multi-national congregation.”
“I would really like to hear somebody who is really articulate about the elements of their faith conversion. I’m not,” he said. “I investigated it, it worked for me, and it made me have a sense of inspiration and wonder, and I became a Muslim. It’s been working for me ever since.”