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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. SAAB

    good, so Obama is Satan, and Repubs are Christian God, so far we have seen Satan is kicking God's ass, lol!!

    March 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • ed

      The devil is the progressives God. Well said SAAB!

      March 18, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  2. The real Tom

    Wow, just look at all the angry little tea baggers! Still haven't gotten over the fact that Obama has now won twice?

    You must be scarred for life. You're screaming like scalded cats.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
  3. Uthor

    Glad that someone else can exploit the Christian mythology for profit. They're just stories.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
  4. ed

    Barack Huessein Obama
    ...Deceiptful, Arrogant, Untrustworthy/Liar, Thinks he's a Messiah.........All Fits!

    March 18, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • JE

      You should really consider investing in a dictionary.

      They say Satan's the father of lies. It's fascinating how easily right wingers lie.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
  5. Adi

    How does this even qualify for the news section on CNN? Day by day, this media outlet is becoming more of a National Enquirer type of shop.

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

    ...It would be more interesting to see the responses if they used Mr.Bean in the miniseries...

    March 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  7. Ronald

    Satan is not as ugly or as stupid as Obama.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • ....

      And you should know since you're clearly one of his followers (Satan's).

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

    Who am I to disagree with God's will. If he wanted Obama not to resemble Satin then he would have made Obama look like something else. Maybe the back end of a donkey for example.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
  9. scootfl78

    I believe the History Channel itself has been taken over by Satan (dual duties while also producing "The 700 Club") in the fact that it's the HISTORY Channel and hardly ever shows history. Everything is either reality shows or stupid miniseries like this one about the Bible.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
  10. YoungGeezy

    What wuz my president doin on da history channel last night yo? I did like his black hoodie, when he was talkin to Jesus........When he gonna be on da show about Mohammed?

    March 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • ray

      Man shut your Lame ass up

      March 18, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  11. Andy H.

    They actually look nothing alike.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  12. YoungGeezy

    God works in mysterious ways........he has outed the Keynian born, Obama. Both of his fathers were in FACT Muslims that hated the USA, capitalism, religion, white people, and imperialism. Both fathers left his radical/progressive Muslim-man loving mother. No wonder Barry is trying his best to destroy this country............a friend of Lucifer.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • JM

      You think people are supposed to worship white people and embrace white imperialism.

      Well, that's just stupid...

      But, I guess you get that a lot.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • ed

      Obama is the world's biggest racist. He is constantly shifting $ from white people that earned it, to minorities and his friends in the middle east. Thanks Barry for sending our taxpayer funded $250mm to Egypt.......along with US fighter jets and tanks. Barry sure is generous with other peoples $$$$$

      March 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • truth?

      Ed (is that short or uninformED?)- By shifting money from the people who earned it, do you mean that white people then owe African-Americans centuries worth of reparations for taking the money that they actually earned (since they were the ones actually doing all of the work because their white 'masters' were too lazy and evil to do any work themselves or have the morals of an alley cat)?

      March 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  13. symone says

    what the H people? you don't help anybody by printing garbage like this. based upon your headline, some tea party moron is now going to go about making this claim, without reading the article. sheesh. where is responsible journalism? a good headline could have advertised this story as the bunk it is, instead of lending it credibility. for shame.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
  14. will

    This is such a racist article. They are clearly nothing alike and this article just perpetuates the stereotype that all black people look alike. They are no more the same looking as Tom Cruise and Keano Reeves.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  15. Selmers

    Well... He sure does ACT like him.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  16. RealityWatch

    LOL..wow..this funny. People just need to get a life. Did they do the same for Bushy? His administration is the one that actually got us in this mess that we have been trying to dig ourselves out of for the past few years.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • Selmers

      Bush was bad.. This clown is worse.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • Mrjr84

      I love you libs. Bush got us into this mess is still one of your talking points? You couldn't explain that if you wanted to. You're the same group who thinks Obama is doing a great job running over a trillion dollar deficit annually, several times bushes annual deficits.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • oakhill

      Ummm....actually every president as far back and including Franklin D Roosevelt has gotten us to where we are today. BOTH the current and the last president just did a better job of really making bad decisions (or making none when it mattered....)

      March 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Davey

      You cons so funny.
      Hating on Obama for not cleaning up Bush's disasters is like hating on the fire department
      for the inferno the arsonist started.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
  17. Michelle O.

    What took you so long to figure out that my husband is Satan? Yep, I love the bad boys.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  18. Jose A

    Red flag! lol! ding ding ding!!

    March 18, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  19. Maui420L

    Really CNN.... It's really hard to take jabs at FOX FAUX NEWS when you do stories like this....
    There are real issues in the world to report... Ya know... back to serious journalism and leave stories like this to FOX....

    March 18, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  20. billybob

    Osatan! I love how people talk about the president as if they lived with him since childhood and know that he is 100% good.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Akira

      I love how since you don't support him, you call him ignorant names.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Stammer

      I love how people talk about the president as if they lived with him since childhood and know that he is 100% bad.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:11 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.