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. sugarcube

    BO looks and acts like Satan.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • AB

      What does satan look and act like yawn snore.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  2. California Conservative

    He could pass for a sith lord or maybe Trayvon?

    March 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  3. Valentina

    Nah, Satin is much better looking and not nearly as arrogant or thin skinned.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  4. charles darwin

    I can't believe the the backwards mentality of people.
    Even Mark Burnett.
    Talking about the devil and jesus like they were real people.
    This scares me, as rational thinking has all but disappeared.
    No wonder the world is in deep S**t!

    March 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Chad

      I'm curious, what makes you think that Jesus isnt a real historical figure?

      You "just know"?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

      IT'S A TRAP

      March 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • The DEVIL

      Yep sleezzie play

      March 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  5. Tacha

    I would never say President Obama is the Satan. But yes, The Bible's Satan resembles a "aging" Obama. (I am happy to hear I wasn't the only one that notices this).

    March 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • fintastic

      where is that picture in the bible of satan again?.......... step away from the crack pipe.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  6. Billy Batson

    Shame on CNN for posting this.

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


      March 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  7. Joe B.

    This is a stupid topic. It looks nothing like Obama save the eye brows. As a matter of fact...Satan looks like far more like Spock (aka Leonard Nimoy) than he does Obama. Stupid and lame.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  8. ashlynn

    Now that you mention it...

    March 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  9. Athensguy

    Oh, dear... Here we go with the cra. P ola again

    March 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  10. California Conservative

    ME II

    hmmm.... and who's comparing the president to Satan?
    I'm just agreeing with the truth is all.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • sam

      You're just agreeing with...your own opinion. That is a stretch, huh?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  11. RC

    Well now that you mention it........

    But O is not Satan. He may be one of the 4 Horsemen but calling him Satan is giving him too much credit. He is a mere flyspeck on the great timeline.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Athensguy

      And you are?...

      March 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  12. Sly

    Little red man with horns carrying a pitchfork, lives 500 miles deep in the center of the earth.

    Big fat white man sits up in the clouds sewing tiny wings on tiny butterflies for earthlings.

    Long haired hippie dude with bloody holes in his hands and feet goes walking across water without drowning.

    Wow, as long as we're all experimenting with hallucigenic drugs, let's enjoy the REAL fruits of God:

    "thousands of gorgeous virgin teenage chicks up in heaven who unfortunately met their maker before they had a chance to enjoy the fruits of the earth. No laws. No wives. No football. Man, it is going to be a huge party up in heaven. Wilt the Stilt's 10,000 record is falling to me within 2 months!"

    Man, those are some good drugs.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  13. wanda

    It really shouldn'tt matter what Obama looks like, but what he does to make America a super country with lower taxes ....We need so many jobs to keep our people working and free from becoming a slave to welfare and food stamps........We all need to earn our own money !!!!

    March 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Scott

      Our taxes are already too low by historical and international standards.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  14. John

    I'm no fan of Obama but not going to sink to the level of comparing him to satan. I'll just say he is a poor President and leave it at that.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  15. chris

    ohhh please!! Really?
    How many times do you hear or hear reference to .".....all look alike"..
    Well. there you have it!

    March 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • james

      Bama 25 years from now.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  16. California Conservative

    It's not like it wasn't already known. Everyone knows this fact.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • ME II

      That you're an idiot? sure.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • California Conservative

      ME II – Personal attack. Typical liberal tactic.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • sam

      Boring troll, posting the same variations on a theme over and over.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • ME II

      hmmm.... and who's comparing the president to Satan?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • I Am God

      The only people that brought up this terrible comparison are those trolls that want to pick a fight with people online. Typical trolls.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      What fact? Aren't you protected under the Endangered Species Act?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • California Conservative

      I Am God – Liberals are the ones that brought it up.

      Liberals = trolls.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  17. rstein

    What's the difference, they both act the same.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  18. Tom

    This is the most retarded. ridiculous article EVER on CNN....

    March 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  19. End Religion


    March 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • AB

      Yeah Austin. I love Austin (except for that fucked up racist statue they have on the Capital lawn).

      March 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  20. ouzo34

    Absolutely yes. Not only does he look like Satan, he acts like Satan.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • sam


      March 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Akira

      Dee dee dee.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:07 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.