By Matt Barnwell
Macon Mayor Jack Ellis has converted to Islam and is working to legally change his name to Hakim Mansour Ellis.
The mayor, raised as a Christian, said Thursday that he has been studying the Koran for years and made the religious switch at a December ceremony in the country of Senegal on the western African coast. Ellis is now a Sunni Muslim, having chosen a religion he said was originally practiced by his west African ancestors before they were brought to America by slave traders.
Ellis said his decision was a personal one, though he understands his elected position breeds public interest in his choice. It was not something he decided overnight to do, he said.
â€œWhy does one become a Christian? … You do it because it feels right. Itâ€™s the right thing for you to do. … To me itâ€™s no big deal. But people like to know what you believe in. And this is what I believe in.â€