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. Akira

    I wonder if the President ever gets tired of this kind of stupid shit?

    March 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Charles Gannon

      Well said

      March 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  2. rickinmo

    "The project also has a book tie-in, games and apps." Wow. I can hardly wait. I'm getting all three. A great compliment to my jesus app and my exorcism app. I'm currently writing a video game based on the last supper where jesus and the apostles all have to agree on the menu. Judas joins a witness protection program and testifies against the others. Peter starts his own church where antisemitism is taught and crusaders kill nonbelievers causing others to convert saving them from the fires of hell. The game is meant to inspire a new generation of believers who dedicate themselves to christ while molesting boys to bring them closer to god. It should be in stores early next year.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:52 pm |


      March 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm |


    March 18, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • End Religion

      You mean all demons?

      March 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm |


    March 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  5. MR

    Why is this news?

    March 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  6. mcp123

    It is by his grace I am saved. I am glad that I have the assurance of salvation .
    Bless his grace the Flying Spaghetti Monster.... all bow down before his noodly appendages!

    March 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • End Religion


      March 18, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  7. Mary

    Sorry I don't believe it was NOT meant to look like Obama..
    Even if it were a mistake ,It HAD to be noticed and there was plenty of time to alter it..

    March 18, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  8. jkflipflop

    Looks more like Emperor Palpatine to me.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • LL

      Looks like an evil Obama.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  9. Dr. Chris

    Totally his Doppleganger but then again this is all fictional fantasy anyway, he could look like the Easter Bunny and it would be just as believable.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  10. truth teller

    you have to want to see obama in the satan character. Jesus was black. stop whining,heathen libs

    March 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  11. BigReg

    So Satan is Black but Jesus is White as SNOW? lol sometimes you just have to chuckle at ignorance

    March 18, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  12. The Devil is in the Details

    What scares me is not "the Devil" but rather how CNN is able to datamine twitter to pick these needles out of a haystack! Lol...

    March 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • LL

      Bigotry and hatred are chicken soup for the soul?

      March 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  13. Julie

    Complete Nonsense!!

    March 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  14. Satan_Obama

    Join me,Jesus.Join me on the Dark Side.

    There,you will have all the Power in the Universe.Unlimited Power.To do all that you want.You need not pay attention to your Father.For I AM your Father!

    March 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  15. bob

    Finally, an article about satan, it must be revelling in all the attention it is getting.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "It"? It who?

      Come on.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • bob

      'it' who? lucifer/devil-satan.
      Satan is real and he is prowling around, seeking to devour the gullible.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Well, then, no wonder YOU are well-acquainted with him, you bozo.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • bob

      Nope! Not as gullible as you.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Finally, an article about satan, it must be revelling in all the attention it is getting."
      If it weren't for dimwitted believers, it wouldn't get any attention at all.

      Satan, just like all gods, are mere fantasies. All are just figments of the imagination of underdeveloped minds. They are just as likely to exist as the Easter Bunny.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • bob

      Next time you are tempted, you may want to ask yourself what it is.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • humanbean

      I like tacos

      March 18, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  16. Pumpkin Carving

    (you can easily make it into Jesus by tilting the 'X' upward into a cross – otherwise it's the same)

    March 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  17. End Religion

    Come on in, Christians, the water's fine. Come to grips with your inner atheist. You know religion is a fraud, hell never existed and there is no god who cares how you run your life. You know right from wrong without some immoral 2000 year old medieval goat herder rule book telling you so. Life's a party without religion!

    March 18, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • bob

      It is by his grace I am saved. I am glad that I have the assurance of salvation .

      March 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • bananaspy

      What bob is trying to say is, "I believe what I believe because it makes me feel better." Actually, your salvation is not assured, bob, because there are a lot of religions that think you're doomed for what you believe. So if one of those turns out to be right, you're screwed like the rest of us.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • bob

      I have the assurance of salvation, it is a conviction!!!

      March 18, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • End Religion

      bob, so sorry to hear you're going to hell. Enjoy!

      March 18, 2013 at 9:08 pm |



      March 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • End Religion

      What about my 2 chickens, simpleton?

      March 18, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • Cindy

      there are some intelligent believers. I vividly recall being crushed for about a week when I found out Stephen King (the author) was a believer. It just didn't add up. That was 20 years ago though. I view the belief in god now as some sort of "veil of ignorance" – not stupidity but some sort of mechanism, defense, shield that keeps the fantasy alive inside and keeps reality at bay on the outside.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • End Religion

      Cindy, I'm honored you're quoting me. Thanks!

      March 19, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  18. scallywag

    I'm more concerned with Jesus. Look at his picture.. Jesus must have really had it tough, what with being the only frickin white dude in the entire middle east!

    March 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  19. csm_in_dc

    Looks like Trayvon.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  20. Blackcurry

    This is the dumbest damned article I've ever read.... brought to you by the same people that see the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Jeebusss


      March 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • james

      and the same ones that make Jesus up to be long haired and dirty when according to the law he lived by he would have been clean with a neatly trimmed beard and never would have had long hair since he was not a Nazirite and long hair on a man was considered a dishonor, (1 Cor.11: 14,15) but most important about Jesus was how he put emphasis on spiritual things and made known his Heavenly Father's name and Kingdom.(see John ch.17) or to learn more of what the Bible really teaches go to jw.org

      March 18, 2013 at 9:04 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.