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March 18th, 2013
01:59 PM ET

Producer: Claim of Obama-Satan likeness nonsense

By Dan Merica, CNN
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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."

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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.

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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. tony

    I think US evangelist and/or conservative behavior has a remarkable similarity to satanic ideals.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Be Heeled from Satan!!!! lol

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0-04VDrCbM

      March 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  2. David

    I thought the Devil was a white man. I always pictured him looking like that guy harry the prince from the house of Windsor.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  3. Jabbadahut

    Joe Seattle, thank you for that insight. Allot of people are thinking that, but are afraid to say it. TO: Religion is a Fable, well there isn't much to be said for you, maybe if you were to get Jesus in your life maybe you would less like Biden.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • tony

      I wonder why the religious always want to dump the thinking capacity that god gave them? Didn't Jesus say "don't bury your talents, but use them?

      March 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  4. liquorstoreman

    WHO WAS CAIN'S WIFE? WHY DID GENESIS MAKE IT A THING TO EXPLAIN EVERYONE ELSE'S LINEAGE AND ALL OF THAT...BUT JUST SAID "CAIN'S WIFE" WITH NO EXPLANATION. I'LL WAIT............. FOLKLORE.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  5. He knows Evil

    WOW !!!
    IT IS HIM !!! SATAN... OBAMA
    and both have 5 letters in their name !!!

    So bizarre when God sends Good through Pope Francis that God would also reveal to us the image of Satan !

    March 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Whoa there. Put down the crack pipe and slowly back away.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  6. IreneN

    This world is too full of m o r ons, it's hopeless. Time to buy my own island without TV and guest pier before I it drives me insane. Just to be sure I'm not out of my mind already – am I still in the 21st century?

    March 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  7. joe american

    If the devil had a son . . .

    March 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • joe the dumber

      he duz bro – Dick Cheney

      March 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • fintastic

      Bill O'reilly

      March 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  8. CAT

    No, I think it looks more like Sarah Palin...

    March 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  9. pbernasc

    racists get caught all the times
    man this one is really infantile .. it's amazing waht white men with little dick will do to feed their own paranoiac fears

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

      Yo yo! Obama is the shizzle my nizzle! I got my new phone for free and an EBT card I can buy booze and lotto with! And now I have free healthcare for all my 12 kids! HOLLA AT A PLAYA!

      March 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  10. BobZemko

    No one watches the cr*p they put out now on the History Channel, so who cares?

    March 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  11. joe american

    You would think the left would be happy about Satan looking like their messiah Obama..after all, Satan is their hero..but I bet somewhere Satan is offended, even he has his standards

    March 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • joe the dumber

      so tru bro

      March 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @joe the dumber...................You two shmoes are two peas in a pod. You two should call yourselves dumb americans

      March 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • ,

      Ken it should be dumb and dumber.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  12. Citizen

    Satan should look like the preacher at Cornerstone Baptist Church. He brutally murdered a woman, but after getting out of jail he now has a mega church, lives in a one million dollar home in a gated community, and is worshipped by his congregation.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  13. Obama Nation

    Black in America...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bavou_SEj1E

    March 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  14. ...

    We're the GOP, inspiring our base with hysterics since we can't convince anyone else.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  15. Ken Margo

    I don't see the big deal. There has been plenty of people that have compared ALL presidents to someone or something.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  16. josh

    HELL YES BECAUSE OBAMA IS IN THE ILLUMINATI

    March 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Raul Mennendes

      you do know the Illuminati are not satanists, right?

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

      I know how many presidents are we gonna ellect who are in it

      March 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  17. Joot

    Actually, in The Bible (the book, not the movie) Satan/Lucifer is described as the most beautiful angel God created. So, if you think the POTUS is handsome, you should have no issue with the actor that was cast.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  18. Pat

    Yes it does look like Obama and I think it was a very good casting call on their part.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  19. FredScuttle1969

    DO NOT compare some pathetic television preacher wanna-be to British COMEDY LEGEND Benny Hill.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  20. Jim in PA

    It should be noted, however, that a character on his way to Sodom with a hot babe under each arm and bottle of Cristal in his hand bore a shocking resemblance to Joe Biden.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
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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.