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."

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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. Answer

    A white man telling you who satan is.. classic.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Science

      Hey fredie where did your thread go ?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  2. Charles Gannon

    For Gods sake, is that all people have to worry about ?

    March 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  3. newgalvestonian

    Yep! Two eyes, a nose and a pair of lips! It also looks like my neighbor, he has those too! No! Wait! I just returned from shaving and was amazed to find that I also have them! What's this world coming to?

    March 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  4. Adam

    Come on.... is this the best you've got CNN? He looks more like the Emperor from Star Wars than President Obama. Way to stir up trouble. Keep up the bad work.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Ahhh-sooooo

      Darth Sisyphus?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  5. maria

    I only can say ...after I see Bush I get goose bumps like I see the devil! I am serious never in my life I feel that but when I see this guy it always heppens! not Obama don't look like the devil ! I don't see any resemble , I remember the tyrant Hugo Chavez he sign the cross in his face and say keep me way form Satan ,how true!

    March 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  6. He knows Evil


    Both 5 letters.
    Both have two A's
    If you take the B from OBAMA and the S from Satan you get the initial B.S. for Barry Soretoro. WOW !!!

    March 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • maria

      Sore looser ...get over with it! he will be four mores like it or not! how much hate it is sad and troubling really! I think that you watch too much FOX TV ! the evil one here is YOU!

      March 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Ahhh-sooooo

      Ok Glenn, put down the chalk... Shouldn't you be shilling for investment companies so your followers will buy up overpriced gold?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  7. hillary

    The was really Obama's next Supreme Court nominee, the perfect compliment to Ruth Buzzy-Ginzberg, Sotomayer, Kagan! The moral decline of America accelerated by King Huessein Obama!

    March 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Sly

      You got it baby! President Obama will likely replace 2, maybe 3, old white conservatives, with good young progressive thinking Americans! You 2%ers are toast. Turn out the lights, the parties over!

      If President Obama is Satan, then Satan is doing a hell of a good job running this nation!

      What's so bad about Satan anyway? What did He do wrong? And, whatever did your White Fat God do right? Name something ...

      March 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Ahhh-sooooo

      I guess he's trying to get rid of the white trash welfare queens?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  8. Festivusfortherestofus

    I think if the devil/satan was as powerful and clever as is made out to be then he/she/it would not have appeared in such a grotesque/intimidating sight rather it would have been more of a tempting figure (Woman? Child? Beggar??).

    March 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  9. Rob Base

    Hedoes look like Obama! if you are a narrow minded conservative bigot, or an overly sensitive paranoid left wing radical

    March 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  10. Kristine

    Thanks CNN for perpetuating some crap that paranoid right-wingers started on Twitter. This is not news.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
  11. Totheleastofthese

    So, not only is Jesus white but satan is in fact black. Poor black people. They don't stand a chance.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  12. Bill

    Many of us have known for 5-6 years that Obama was the anti-Christ, and his actions and policies all bear witness to this. That this actor looks like Mr Obama is either a coincidence or outstanding casting by the producers. Kudos. You have nailed this one.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • josh

      Wow you really are an idiot...Or have never read the Bible if you believe that

      March 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Aaron in NY

      you need some profession help with that problem there, Billy

      March 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Adam

      I'll bet you ate a lot of paint chips when you were a kid...

      March 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • RG1

      And which "Left Behind" book was this in? The gospel according to Kirk Cameron.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • fintastic

      Wow!... it's a moron roundup!

      March 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      You must have one of those Whack-A-Doodle Bibles with the comic book pictures. The rest of us have the one that says the AntiChrist will be wildly popular and generally assumed to be the second coming of Jesus. When exactly did Obama become so wildly popular that churches are taking down the crosses and replacing them with his portrait?

      March 19, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • I call BS

      What, exactly, has Obama done that makes you believe that he's the anti-Christ?

      I don't really care, but I need a good laugh.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Satan's can opener

      Think much? No, apparently not. Parrot much? BINGO!

      March 20, 2013 at 4:23 am |
  13. josh

    Glenn Beck can't tell the difference between two different people of color? Now there's a story for CNN!

    March 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  14. Mojonaamdi

    I watched some of this and you know what's funny. Most of the men of the time period dressed like the Arabs of today and most of the women could pass for Muslim women because of their modest dress with headcover. Ha.. the Muslims are more like the people who followed Christ than teh Christians of today.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • akismet-be3fad76265b64f7a7a5c9d4863fbfac

      "Ha.. the Muslims are more like the people who followed Christ than teh Christians of today."

      The way that they were dressed back then had nothing to do with modesty, but with the culture at that time. People can still dress modestly without having to dress the way the did back then.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  15. Bible Clown©

    Well, at least now that a movie has been made, no one will ever read the book again. Try finding a copy of The Jungle Book that isn't a movie tie-in, and yet it was once so famous the Cub Scouts were based on it.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • USure

      Boy Scouts and Cub scouts came from a book called 'Scouting for boys' written by Baden-Powell their founder,

      March 19, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  16. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Yes, the actor playing Satan looks very much like President Obama. The makeup emphasises the resemblance to a worried, tired Obama.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  17. hillary

    President Obama is Satan, and he is trying to destroy this country and it's Freedom. So America lets all pray that this doesn't happen and send the Devil straight to h e l l.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • jeezy

      obama was born in afirca i wonder if he has aids

      March 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Sly

      Sorry baby – we kicked your azz's in the election, and President 'the Devil' Obama kicked your God's butt as well.

      Face it – God is Dead. Obama won. Without a birth certificate!

      And my 401k has doubled, my Devil killed Bin Laden and ended 2 wars, and gave this nation Health Care!

      That's MY man ... er, Devil, and I'm proud as hell of Him!

      March 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • maria

      wahoooo! you need your meds. pronto! I bet you don't even work I bet you are in the food stamps and getting money from the Governement! hope you get weel you are really sick!

      March 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Satan's can opener

      Have another shot of shine and feel proud of your double-wide, ok?

      March 20, 2013 at 4:25 am |
  18. 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 5:00 pm |
    • Over 40,000 denominations of atheism

      There are as many atheist denominations as there are christian denominations:

      libertarian atheists, Marxist atheists, scientific determinist atheists, existentialist atheists, humanist atheists, Nietzschean atheists, etc., etc.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Coward

      He never answers.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Over 40,000 denominations of atheism, Explain the differences between those that you have posted then.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • clarity

      Was there a question? Doesn't look like it. Also, I'm not a "He". So you are labeling yourself as a Coward – that's interesting.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Coward

      You're the jerk that posts that over and over? And over and over? And over?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • fintastic

      @40,000 morons

      You pulled those out of your a$$? yup, that's what I thought......

      March 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Coward

      And over? And over?

      And it barely gets a response. And you continue to post it over? And over? And over?

      What is wrong with you, girl?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  19. joe american

    Which is the REAL Satan? I say the one on the right!!!

    March 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  20. Jerry

    Yes, yes!!! Accept it or not...

    March 18, 2013 at 4:59 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.