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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. lolol

    we already knew Obama was a stinking demon. this show confirms it.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Wow. This article surely brought you coc kroaches out of the wall.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  2. JFritz

    This article is seriously irresponsible. Bring back Ted Turner, CNN! Is there a real journalist left there?

    March 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Julie

      I agree!I'm sure there is more important news we should be reading!This is insane!!

      March 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  3. ImaginaryReligion

    The "real satan" wears a red suit not unlike the "real santa".

    If one describes supernatural/magical things with real world terms, the description is usually:
    – intentionally ambiguous (not falsifiable)
    – ridiculously specific (but also not falsifiable): heaven/heaven is underground, in space, on a planet, made of gold/silver/glass, made of fire/ice, inhabited by beings with tails or wings.

    try to give a specific definition of satan, angles, heaven or hell that really makes sense.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  4. PAD

    He looks more like speaker boehner to me.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  5. skytag

    Possible resemblance aside, I find it interesting an African-American was cast to play Satan.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Chad

      That actor is Moroccan...

      March 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Chad, do you believe Satan exists?

      March 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • ABarker

      Actually, there are many black skinned individuals in the series. The gentleman who plays Samson is one of them. I won't call them "African-American" as many don't come from Africa or Americ and "African-American" is not a race, its a combination of countries.

      They seemed to have made an effort to include all races in many different roles.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  6. Cypros

    I tuned in for about 10 minutes of this program and realized that it was another regurgitation of the age-old bible drivel. What is desperately needed is an educational, scholarly discussion of the historical context of the biblical texts, something the larger public is quite ignorant about. I will watch a bible series when The History Channel decides to get back to history and leaves behind its current focus on mythology (and poorly veiled political propaganda).

    March 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Chad

      What makes you think that the events recorded in the bible arent actual history?

      March 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What makes you think they are, Chard?

      Do you actually LIKE this sort of dreck on TV?

      March 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Why don't you tell us all about the empty tomb again, Daddy?

      Any minute now, your sock puppet Paul will show up.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  7. glk20c

    Nonsense? Right. Satan only looks exactly freaking like King Obama... or King Obama looks exactly like Satan.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  8. misstc

    You guys are cracking me up! Are there no news out there to report? I had to go to another web site to get some news.

    And yet Israel put it on the international agenda less than a month ago with its award of a licence to a US energy firm to explore for oil in the Golan Heights. Oil drilling by the New Jersey-based Genie Energy Ltd in the occupied Golan Heights could well result in a lawsuit claiming that Israel is engaged in an illegal act of pillage as defined in the Hague Convention. Perhaps Israel is now so used to living off the fat of other people's land – Palestinian and Syrian soil and water, among other resources – it has seemingly thrown caution to the wind.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • misstc

      CNN no longer reports any news...just hype and lindsay lohan

      March 18, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  9. Joke

    I want to see this guy's birth certificate - is is really Moroccan?

    March 18, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Kelly51

      No. He's from Hawaii.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • JJ

      'shhhhh'

      "They" (the right trash wingnuts) don't know that Hawaii is part of the U.S.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Kelly51

      @JJ Obama thinks Hawaii is part of Asia! He thinks we have 57 States! BTW I'm a right wing nut and proud of it!

      March 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • JJ

      I embellished.

      'They' don't think at all...heads firmly up their rear ends.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  10. mickey

    No one has seen Satan. He is a spirit and is filled with hatred for anything created by God. He presents himself in many forms and in all races of people.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Pete

      Satan does not exist.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Satan does exist, but only in the minds of mentally ill delusional christian death cult members.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  11. Kelly51

    Looking at the two pictures side by side. I would like for someone to tell me which one is which.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • .

      Seriously if the actor walked up to you dressed like that you would say "Hi Mr President!" – NOT!

      March 18, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Kelly51

      They both look like Satan.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  12. End Religion

    A caller on this episode starts to go into Topher's barcode insanity ramble before being cutoff by the patient Atheists...

    http://youtu.be/nFeaJL-T-IY

    March 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  13. cosmotwo

    Obama to me is the devil. He represents allthat is evil in thic country. He is the ultimate hypocrite.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • .

      pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • JM

      You're obviously not a Christian. The Bible says that people like you will be easily deluded by evil.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • skytag

      There are millions of fools like you who have been brainwashed to believe such ridiculous nonsense.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  14. David from MO

    To Whybother, if the devil is a white then everything is not ridiculous then? Get a life.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  15. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

    " Burnett's wife, added, "Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our President, who is a fellow Christian." ....UMMMM... really?? Last I checked he was MUSLIM and wants nothing to do with CHRISTIAN holidays... don't even try to claim him to be Christian

    March 18, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • .

      You're an idiot.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      Then you have obviously never checked. Nor does it matter.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

      I heard it on Fox . It must be true.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What a fvcktard. Obama isn't a Muslim, you dumb sh!t.

      Who ties your shoes for you?

      March 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  16. j

    This is hilarious!!! Great casting!!

    March 18, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  17. David from MO

    Ha, ha, ha. Why so many people upset about this funny thing. If there is a Saint who shall not worry about other peoples' thoughts. Only the devils are always afraid of the truth.

    Get some funny bone, you creeps.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  18. mike

    Never noticed it until now. Actually, Obama would have been a better casting for the role.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  19. him

    THE BIBLE have the highest rating right behind Cheers, Friends, Walking Dead, etc. lol.

    There's no more bible series after book of revelation.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • JM

      Yeah, it's too bad that so many people who claim to be Christians are too lazy to actually read the Bible and, instead, get their gospel from Fox News (the devil's tool).

      The only people who Jesus condemned were self-righteous, judgmental religious people.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  20. WhyBother

    Jesus is white .. and the actor playing the devil is an African (Moroccan) ... smfh. Ridiculous

    March 18, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      Jesus is white? In what alternate reality? There were no white people near Jerusalem at that time, Jesus was NOT white, if he even was real.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Kevin

      Correct... Same old B.S.... Oh, does he looks look like the P.O.T.U.S.. Gee we didn't noticed when we cast him as Satan. B.S... I think a dark skinned actor should had been casted as Jesus since Jesus came from that region.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:04 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.