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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. right wing ding dang dong show...

    Well now your great ratings will plummet when peoples realize you are "scamming" the peoples with the Bible series...
    You could have been civil to "spread the word of God" but all you did is prove religions are flavors of God...
    and this way to spread Christianity left a bad taste in my mouth...not all are in bad taste but this one seems to have done it...

    March 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  2. SAAB

    Let's talk about God's resemblance, do you have anyone in mind?

    March 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Which one?

      March 18, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  3. BloggingDAWEB

    Blue
    eyed

    w
    h
    i
    t
    e
    devil

    not a black person

    March 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • censored in the usa

      Morgan Freeman?

      March 19, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  4. Dana

    The devil looks like Obama with a hoodie.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Any real Christians left?

      I wonder what the percentage of churches actually preaching the Bible are v. those who are just preaching hate?

      'I like your Christ. I don't like your Christians.' – Gandhi

      March 18, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • End Religion

      Ghandi swiped that from the original -
      'I like your Gobstoppers. I don't like your Vermicious Knids.' – Willy Wonka

      March 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
  5. Pendar

    OMG! It Oh Bee Wan Obama.....that ain't no devil, he's a Jedi!

    March 18, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  6. TruthPrevails :-)

    No, you guys are completely wrong, to call them look alikes is completely wrong... This because they are actually identical!

    March 18, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • right wingers...the missing link?

      Oh, you right wingers are just like the Pharisees in the Bible. It's astonishing.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      You "right wingers...the missing link?"
      You dork, who uses that handle? Have some fun you idiot, and stop kissing Obama's feet (or worse)!!

      March 18, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
  7. Doggggg

    They just wanted Satan as realistic as possible!!!!!!

    March 18, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  8. Shaquille

    Some facts for you ignorant progressives.......ONLY Obama's DNA will tell us the real truth about who he is. Obama's father hated America, capitalism and christianity. Sounds like the devil to me!

    March 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • The real Tom

      That's because you're dumb as a box of hair.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • ?

      Satan – Is that you?

      March 18, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • Eeyore

      Gosh, who knew that DNA could tell everyone that I hate people like you!

      March 18, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • mason

      Lucifer is a far more moral bible character than the brutal, evil, and cruel Jehovah and his "I bring the sword, not peace" who Jehovah had murdered.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      except that Lucifer isn't a biblical character.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
  9. atroy

    How silly.....Everyone know that the human form of Satan is always the Pope.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • Anderson

      atroy and Obuma will meet Satan someday, the only good news.......

      March 18, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  10. ed

    He must be the devil, as everything about this man is made up and fake.........fake birth cert, flunks out of Columbia and gets into Harvard, has only worked for the govt, community rabble rouser, Rev Wright's best friend, it goes on and on........

    March 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Go back to sleep on your couch out on the porch, Cletus.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • ?

      Why do right wingers follow any old liar?

      'Member how you guys all flocked to see that movie 2016 thinking it was 'the truth' (when, in reality, the creator was taking you fools for a ride: getting rich and having an affair).

      Suckers.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Why do you think the cons haul out the issue of abortion every 4 years? They wave it around like a banana and all the stupid monkeys, like the ones posting here, start screaming. And after the election, you never hear the cons mention the issue unless they're trying to raise money to run for office yet again.

      R v W has stood for 40 years, through numerous conservative administrations. And the stupid clucks STILL don't get it.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  11. INYOURFACE

    Get real, the history channel and you people are full of CRAP. You all look, smell and act like Satan in my book. They knew what they were doing...come on, get off it!

    March 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • ed

      Thanks for your opinion Lucifer........

      March 18, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • The real Tom

      ed's mad cuz his sister told him "no" last night and today the diner was out of shoo-fly pie.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  12. Humanist101

    When will reason become even part of the discussion. There is no such thing as the Devil, the figure is merely a representation of human suffering and their inability to cope with the very natural human tendency to feel pain and often feel unresolved in their approach to such dissonance.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • End Religion

      Reason enters the discussion when you bring it up. You did. Thanks!
      There is no devil. Lots of people look like each other. Next story, please!

      March 18, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  13. Ivan

    CNN reports on this kind of junk news to get ignorant responds from ignorant people.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  14. Ralter

    Man, everyone's got it wrong. He looks exactly like Apophis from SG-1. Just needs the gold eyeliner.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  15. abbydelabbey

    A real cheap shot made by so-called "Christians" - of course, the righteous reich minded folks will love it...

    March 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No kidding. Just look at the posts here. Every Cletus and Jim-Bob whose favorite candidate lost the election is on here posting about how much they hate Obama. And every third word is misspelled.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  16. David

    A spitting image, but I thought
    Obama was the anti-Christ 4 years ago. He fooled the people and fooled them twice.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
  17. John

    Absolutely no group other than the christian coalition is responsible for attempting to stir such an absurd notion.

    The seed of ignorance is deeply rooted in religion and in particular, christianity. It is not Barack Obama's policies which anger christians so, but the color of his skin.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  18. Uthor

    By the way, have you ever noticed that the National Enquirer's Batboy looks an awful lot like Dick Cheney?

    March 18, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  19. Rick1948

    Pandering to the right wing religious nutcases.

    March 18, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • abbydelabbey

      Ironically, Barak is a name from the Bible -

      Barak defeated the Canaanite oppressor. He united the tribes of Israel for greater strength, commanding them with skill and daring. Barak is mentioned in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith.

      Barak recognized that Deborah's authority had been given to her by God, so he obeyed a woman, something rare in ancient times. He was a man of great courage and had faith that God would intervene on Israel's behalf.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • Dana

      Abby is one of those nutcases.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Whatsamatter, Dana? Did you need help with the BIG words?

      March 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  20. Mahhn

    That's silly, Obamer is much more evil, from his wana-be comidian remarks to his bombing children and contiuing Cheny's oil filed conncoring dream. Beside the devil would never have a ugly mole. He'd be cool and tricky.

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

      Let's see: evil like lying about WMDs and starting a war in a country that never attacked us thereby killing thousands?

      Oh wait. That was the Great Satan duo: Bush/Cheney.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • Akira

      Mahhn, you have made The Real Tom's point admirably.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:46 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.