March 18th, 2013
01:59 PM ET

Producer: Claim of Obama-Satan likeness nonsense

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – The third episode of the History Channel's miniseries “The Bible” was supposed to be remembered for the brutality of Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar, the strength of Daniel in the lion’s den, and the birth of Jesus Christ.

But after viewers claimed there was a striking resemblance between Satan’s human form and President Barack Obama, that probably won't be the case.

Buzz on Twitter quickly grew. According to Topsy.com on Monday, there were an estimated 20,000 tweets containing the words “Obama” and “Satan” since the 9:00 p.m. ET hour on Sunday, the hour in which Satan appears in the two-hour show.

In a statement, miniseries producer Mark Burnett called claims there was a resemblance "utter nonsense."

Burnett said the actor who played Satan, Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni, "is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics - including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our President."

Ouazanni has had roles in two biblical TV movies - "Jeremiah" and "The Ten Commandments."

Executive producer of the miniseries Roma Downey, Burnett's wife, added, "Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our President, who is a fellow Christian. False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible."

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Satan appears during the miniseries’ retelling of the Temptation of Christ, when Jesus fasted for 40 days in the Judean Desert. Satan tests Jesus’ faith, asking him to make bread out of stone and jump from a cliff, but he refuses each temptation and returns to the Sea of Galilee to begin his ministry.

In the desert, Satan is draped in a long, black, hooded robe and with a slight silver tint to his face.

Both Downey and Burnett supported Obama's first campaign for president in 2008, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Downey gave $5,000 to the Obama Victory Fund and $2,700 to the Democratic National Committee in 2008. Burnett also donated to Obama's first campaign - $2,300 in 2007.

Neither gave money to Obama's 2012 campaign.

While the show was airing, tweets poured in noting the resemblance.

[tweet https://twitter.com/glennbeck/status/313120671297306624%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/lkspringer/status/313470968448315392%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/DanAmira/status/313491508391182336%5D

Not everyone on Twitter agreed, though.

[tweet https://twitter.com/joshuadubois/status/313489150118608896%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/jbouie/status/313498892148830208%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/scottgrimm1/status/313652372561858560%5D

After three episodes, the show has scored strong ratings. Its first episode drew 13.1 million viewers, ratings that trumped CBS’s “60 Minutes” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” The second episode drew 10.8 million viewers.

Ratings for the third installment in the five-week miniseries have not been released.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The project has been a three-and-a-half year process for The History Channel and for Burnett and Downey. Burnett - who is better known as a king of reality television, with “Survivor,” “The Voice” and “The Apprentice” all under his name - told CNN earlier this month that this project was “personal.”

“It was time for an updating, adding fresh visual life to a sacred text,” Burnett said.

Both Downey and Burnett were raised Catholic, Burnett in England and Downey in Ireland. They still regularly attend Mass in Los Angeles. Growing up, both watched the classic biblical films that the Hollywood of yesteryear churned out, like “The Ten Commandments” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

To film their Bible series, the duo set off for the southern tip of Morocco with a crew of around 400 people.
CNN Belief: Reality TV Goliath takes up Bible miniseries challenge, hopes for better outcome

Burnett and Downey consulted a wide range of pastors and academics, including a major evangelical leader and a Catholic cardinal.

Their advisory panel consisted of many people from varied backgrounds familiar with sharing the stories of the Bible, rather than a who’s who of biblical academics.

Joel Osteen, a popular television preacher and pastor of the 30,000-member Lakewood church in Houston, was among those consulted. Osteen and Burnett are friends and were developing a television series together that went on the back burner during the production of this series. Osteen even took his family to Morocco during some of the filming.

While the History Channel owns the exclusive North American rights to the project, Burnett and Downey own the rights to global distribution and theatrical airings, which are in the works. The project also has a book tie-in, games and apps.

- CNN’s Eric Marrapodi and Eric Weisbrod contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Bible

soundoff (2,474 Responses)
  1. Sly

    Not to stray too far off topic ... but does anyone else think Jodi Arias looks like Sarah Palin? (sounds like they have a few behavioural traits in common as well ...)

    March 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  2. Mick

    The History Channel...Dumbing down America since 2005. (Remember when there used to be history on it?)

    March 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Jim in PA

      I hope you are in no way questioning the historical accuracy of Ancient Aliens. LOL.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • mary


      March 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  3. Dean

    Somebody has got to pay..................An example of a government supported society. Believe me Angel we have already paid, probably takes 4 or 5 taxpayers to pay for your children.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  4. Luke

    If Obama was 100 years older and a zombie – then yes he looks like Obama.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  5. Gerry

    He looks more like Howdy Dowdy that Obama !

    March 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  6. Jules

    Looks like a really old Denzel Washington to me.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  7. Darwin

    I DUNNO. Looks like the Virgin Mary to me.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  8. Steve

    Don't you know all black guys look alike.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  9. Dr. Diamond

    -Wait until u see the real satan (devil) and will see that most of u look like him. All of u including Glenn Beck will see satan face to face. Those of u who slander your brother. Those of u that don't believe and the true an living God. Those of u who hate without a cause. Those of u who are laughing now want be laughing when u stand face to face with the real devil. For the day will surly come for you to met your maker. Just wait, but remember I told u so.
    Dr. Diamond 2013 A.D.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Steve

      How about all those who judge others?

      March 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Jim in PA

      Well I certainly would never question the judgement of a doctor.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Elllie phant

      Why is that the ones who claim to be most holy post arrogant and judgement babble like this?

      Keep your religion in the church you so heavily conform to. It's not needed here.


      March 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • fintastic

      Hey Doctor Dufus,.... the devil is just mythology... as in 'not real".... so such thing... non-existent...... made-up, fake, fantasy... etc.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  10. Kelly51

    Satan looks like Obama or Obama looks like satan. It's a toss. Yes. The minute I saw Satan I thought of our dear Leader.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Just a fact

      Hooray! You saw what they wanted you to see. Do you feel good or bad about being manipulated by one of Donald Trumps friends and the producer of "The Apprentice"?

      March 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • ME II

      Are you from N. Korea?

      March 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Kelly51

      I saw exactly what I saw. Not what anyone would have me see. It was a remarkable resemblance.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  11. Strange

    "13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." 2 Corinth 11:13-15

    Does anyone really think Satan would have appeared anything like that to Christ? I mean come on, he can look any way he wants and he's there to try and tempt Jesus. Do you really think he would show up like some emaciated Sith Lord? Please, he probably looked more like George Clooney wearing the finest purple embroidered silks available at that time hemmed in gold and adorned with jewels.

    Only sad Christians would need to imagine their Lord of evil to also look evil as well so they can tell them apart from their own gilded leaders wearing fine embroidered pointy hats and to some appear as angels of light...

    March 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  12. j

    LEAVE IT TO GLENN BECK to deviate from the real purpose of the film....hmmm – wonder who is leading him?

    March 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  13. j

    So dumb, looks nothing like him...and it is just proof that SATAN is working by deviating attention to the nonsense stuff instead of US focusing on JESUS.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Joe Tomorrow

      Satan is in control of devout Christian movie producers who are trying to make a sincere (if incompetent) account of their scripture? Interesting. Then he could easily be in charge of you too, and you wouldn't know it either.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • fintastic

      I'm really disappointed ................ where's the pointy horns red suit and pitchfork?.....

      March 18, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  14. Eric

    He looks like a candidate for a Drug/Alcohol Rehabilitation. All sucked up looking. A tweeker.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  15. fred

    That is a great start because in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. So, Hawkings can take a break now we have found what we were looking for. God spoke the universe into being. Let there be an there was. We could have ourselves a lot of money by not building a collider. CERN should have been looking for the God participle not particle. Creating and created are past and present participle examples and they do not affect electroweak symmetry.
    Translation: God is outside of our time dimension and spoke baryonic matter into existence. God does not require a quantum field to create mass.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Joe Tomorrow

      Great Stuff, fred! That's the kind of thing we need shouted from every street corner! There could be no better recruiter for atheism that what people like you believe.

      Keep up the good work!

      March 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      What evidence do you have for that fred?

      March 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • ..

      fred is proof of Zombie Evangelism (if he could package his effect, it would put people like Lunesta out of business)

      March 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Kelly51

      Atheist's are glutens for Evil. They are totally blinded by their hate and resistance to truth.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Pete

      "They are totally blinded by their hate and resistance to truth."

      More lies from the xtians 227!

      March 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Just too funny

      "Glutens for evil"

      I can't stop laughing! That's just too funny!

      March 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Atheist

      "glu·ten /ˈglo͞otn/ Noun: A substance present in cereal grains, esp. wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough.

      We shall Rise to the occasion 🙂

      March 19, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • fred

      In case you have not noticed that is why so many new gluten free products are now on the market. Atheism on the rise is a hazard to the health of our Nation of Christians.

      March 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Please let Kelly be a poe. Please.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • fred

      The err Real Tom
      You must admit that atheists are blind to the knowledge of God. They may have a great deal of academic study in religion which does not create knowledge in and of its self. You may read every book there is about riding a bike. Until you actually get on a bike you do not know how to ride.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • The real Tom

      fred, are you posting as Kelly now?

      I think your brain's been affected by your intolerance of reason.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  16. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ.

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill were not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of Lutheran CMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as it goes.

    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  17. SurelyUjest

    This is why America is getting fat, people are watching too much video and not living their own lives. There is plenty to do that is fun and doesnt involve comparisons and judgement of your fellow man.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Zingo

      Did you know there is a direct correlation between level of religiousity and level of obeisity? Head down South some time if you don't believe it.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Elllie phant

      I'd bet there's a correlation between low IQ and devout bible huggers.

      Not much room for learning when your head is stuck up someone's ass.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  18. Kay

    Oh for heaven sake, let's cause a problem where there isn't one. People just can't leave anything alone.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  19. fekt

    I find it more offensive that something called the history channel is trying to pass off the bible as history.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Whiteman

      My sentiments as well. History Channel should be utterly ashamed of this completely unhistorical series.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Chuck

      Sorry but the Bible has valuable History in it, that lines up with
      Greek Roman, Babylonian and Syrian history

      March 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Rolf Eczema

      Documentaries are very rarely unbiased and comprehensive in their facts. Most are propaganda, or some dingbat pet theory with little academic support.

      The used to call the History Channel the "All Hitler All The Time" Channel decause of all the Nazi-focused shows it programmed.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Atoadaso

      The History Channel died off a long time ago, victim to reality shows. I can't say too much because I have not watched the show, but the bible as reality?

      BTW, if there is an anti-Christ out there they would look more like one of those FOX News clowns.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  20. Be Heeled from Satan!!!!!!! lol

    Benny Hinn as Benny Hill


    March 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
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.