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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. Ken

    Who supposedly witnessed this meeting between Jesus and Satan in order for it to end up in the "historically accurate" New Testament?

    March 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • End Religion

      Chad's great grandfather.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Ken

      End Religion
      It's a serious question. Bible literalists usually claim that every detail of the New Testament was the product of eyewitness testimony, not hearsay, but who could have possibly witnessed this?

      March 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
  2. Brother Maynard

    The eyes see what the mind want to.
    I can see a bit of a resemblence ... but if nobody had said anything ... I'd probably miss it.
    I remember when Reagan was president, there was a rumor he was the anti-christ because his first, middle and last name where all 6 characters long
    Ronald Wilson Reagan
    666

    March 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  3. james

    I bet Jesus looks like Paul Ryan

    March 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  4. Ken

    With the hoodies that the angels and Satan are wearing in this series I think they're trying to copy Jedi more than anything else.

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

      My first reaction was "So Satan is also the Star Wars Emperor?"

      March 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  5. Marcus Tridellas

    Looks more like Mel Brooks in "Space Balls".

    March 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  6. Marine57

    Yes, it does look like an older, battle-worn Obama (unfortunately for Mr. Obama). Also, however, the actor does look the part.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
  7. Marita

    @snowboarder – Yes, you are very much correct! There is no legitimate reason, it is just MY belief. However, there is no legitimate reason to belief in The Bible either. The operative word being 'Belief' here. – @Marita.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  8. Rob

    Satan does not exist but bigotry is doing quite well.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  9. patilla10

    Why would CNN even make this a headline? For one major thing, Satan was a handsome angel before he was expelled from heaven. So why would this Bible production depict him like they did? This production is not of God. I stopped watching before the first episode was complete, as did my Mom. Did Karl Rove fund this?

    March 18, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  10. Kellee

    I think Satan looks like the Pope oh wait he is the false prophet not the Anti-Christ.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  11. stevieray

    "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."

    Speaks volumes for his accomplishments, eh?!

    March 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • I Am God

      Yet his accomplishments in his first term led him to win his second term in office. Doih. Not everyone believes in your foolish ideology.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  12. Narcy Snodgrass

    I think he looks more like Glen Beck. You can just see the evil in the eyes....it's got the Glen Beck look for sure

    March 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Canadian2

      Who is Glen Beck?

      March 18, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Joseph Smith

      A convert to my flock.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  13. gutz22

    Obozo is an emissary of Satan.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • I Am God

      I have a funny feeling you are the same troll just posting under different names.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  14. Grampa

    H. L. Mencken, US editor, once said "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." He obviously knew what he was talking about.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  15. End Religion

    Wow, that Satan is one dapper and distinguished looking gentlemen, unlike Jeebus who was a flea-ridden unwashed hippy with unkempt beard and dirty fingernails.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Chad

      um...

      A. where did you get that description from?
      B. on other threads you claim Jesus wasnt a real historical figure??
      C. is your credibility on life support at this point?

      March 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Another nitwit who falls for it every time.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • The real Tom

      ER, I think Gopher and Chard fell off the same turnip truck yesterday.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Ken

      I think the long haired Jesus idea came from his being mixed up with two other figures: John the Baptist who was probably unkept, and Horus who looks almost exactly like our image of Jesus on the Cross in depictions of him on his cross.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • End Religion

      Chad, all the proof I need is that when I see pictures of Jeebus I also smell patchouli, which is an undeniable dead giveaway that he's a hippy. Aside from that, CNN posted an article about "dirty jeebus" where one of your OWN religious leaders wrote a long article about how filthy your jeebus was. What's more, EVERYONE was flea-ridden in medieval times, you twit. What more proof do I need for what i said?

      Medieval peasants were covered in dirt, lice and fleas (and I would add they likely smelled of patchouli):
      http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_peasants.htm

      March 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • End Religion

      Yes Tom, Gopher and Chard and Lie4It fell of the same turnip truck, although 2 of those rubes think the truck ride lasted 6000 years and at least Chard recognizes the truck ride was billions of years. Unfortunately all 3 of the clodhoppers think their invisible mechanic built the truck for them and filled it with turnips by snapping his fingers.

      Ken, I am sure Jeebus had very long hair down past his ass. He likely accidentally pooped on it quite a few times. He was a filthy god.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Chad

      @End Religion "What more proof do I need for what i said"

      =>well, I would start with SOME understanding of first century Jewish hygiene habits.

      You sure seem comfortable with guessing ...

      March 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And of course you know all about those, don't you, Chard?

      Do any of them prove Jesus was divine?

      March 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • End Religion

      In Chad World, one's belief become fact with no credible evidence. While I'm in Chad World I will state with certainty that Jeebus had really long hair and likely accidentally pooped on his own hair. He routinely wiped his butt with his own hair so when he "laid on hands" he didn't make people too stinky. And all this is fact because I believe it to be so. In Chad World.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Allow me to say what Chad cannot quite ever get around to saying – there is nothing to prove a divine jesus.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Ken

      End Religion
      I'd say no. My impression is that Jesus, if he were real, was most likely just an ordinary guy living in his society. Probably no long hair, magical powers, or delusions of godhood. All that, I suspect, got added later once he got mixed up with characters like Mythras.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  16. stevieray

    "Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our President, who is a fellow Christian." Wow, if that's a Christian, I guess I'd better go run and change my first and last names too!...you know, something with a nice, Muslim ring to it?!

    March 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • midwest rail

      There are Christians all over the world. Do you believe all of them are named stevieray, or jimbob ?

      March 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, brother. Go take a seat on the stupid bench with bethany and the rest of the trolls, stevieraydumbazz.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • stevieray

      No Midwest, but I do think a closet Muslim who changes his first and last name to sound more 'ethnic' would no way use stevie ray or billy bob!

      March 18, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • sam

      Does your mom know you're on the computer again?

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

      You do realize that Muslims pretty much believe the same things as Christians, that the Bible as Christians know it also is part of their holy scriptures, just as the Jewish Torah is part of the Christian Bible. The only difference is Muslims added to their holy book.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  17. Jesus2ndComing

    He'd look more like Sarah Palin, if he'd remove the black robe and bend over.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  18. Dawn Kiebals

    As if there isn't enough actual stuff going on in the world to keep people informed you have to create ridiculous BS like this? CNN you hang yourself in shame.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  19. End Religion

    Here are those wacky "loving" Christians at it again!

    http://youtu.be/-ZuowNcuGsc

    March 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Doris

      Oh, I LOVE this video. Too amusing! Thx.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • hlasihfls

      Thank for this video!

      March 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  20. HotAirAce

    Looks more like a black Spock.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • End Religion

      He's scanning Jeebus with his evil tri-corder.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Testing...

      March 18, 2013 at 6:46 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.