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. The real Tom

    You bunch of fvcking 12-year olds blowholes.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:24 am |
  2. Chris Matthews

    When I first saw Satan.......a chill went up my leg!!

    March 19, 2013 at 12:23 am |
  3. The real Tom

    ♪♫ Tom, Tom ♫♪♪

    ♫♪ Come out to play-y-aaa ♫♪♫

    Or is it "she who blogs and runs away lives to blog another day."

    March 19, 2013 at 12:22 am |
  4. Keith Olbermann

    Satan looks like Obama and smile like Biden!

    March 19, 2013 at 12:20 am |
  5. The real Tom

    You fvcking people are amazing. I'm in awe at your logic and common sense. You're all like fvcking Vulcans.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:12 am |
  6. Dean Moriarty

    The combined IQ total of all the religious right commenters here still wouldn't get to triple digits.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • The real Tom

      Yeah. Like you've ever even seen a triple digit.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • Joseph

      I am sure Obama's IQ is a secret just like the rest of his life......

      March 19, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • censored in the usa

      I've got ten digits, but only one is saluting you right now.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:46 am |
  7. donner

    Just saw the video of Sarah Palin strutting out to the microphone at CPAC. Damn, I want to take that deep. For about a week. Me likee long time.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Dean Moriarty

      So you're a masochist then.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • The real Tom

      Hey, Moriarty. You're gay. It's ok. It's your way.

      Say hey, hey!!

      March 19, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • Joseph

      Is Barry shooting hoops tommorow, playing golf (or attempting to) or going on vacation?

      March 19, 2013 at 1:34 am |
  8. Mr Everyman

    To be on the safe side, the film could be checked for subliminal suggestion images. The human eye does not focus or see these images but the nervous system picks them up and transmits them to emotions. A lack of these images would indicate the resemblance is coincidental. Support was given for 2008 but not for 2012. Was there a quiet shift in political alliance?

    March 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • The real Tom

      The cuckoo chirps at dawn.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • The real Tom

      Or in my case, every few minutes.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • Ken Margo

      You're not "Everyman" 51% of the country voted for Obama. You're a moron.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • The real Tom

      That's it. CNN isn't paying me enough to put up with this kind of trollish crap.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • The real Tom

      Well, Kenny, considering that Obama "lost" most of the military votes, handed out absentee ballots like Hallmark cards and gave free phones to "repeat customers" at the precincts –

      March 19, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Ken Margo

      He got the majority vote. PERIOD. He got the electoral vote. PERIOD. That is all that matters. That is why mr empty suit, your hero, mutt romney is home. You should be thankful Obama cant run for a third time. Based on the AZZ holes at cpac. He'd destroy them too.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • The real Tom

      So, Kenny, is that your "war face?"

      Gerble, gooble, goo.

      What, you don't think people recognize lies and propaganda for what it is?

      March 19, 2013 at 12:16 am |
  9. ZanWarren

    When had the devil been so obivoius in his dealings he took on the form of cold serpent. So now the first man in the White House that is a man of color is the devil. So we are to believe that every leader in the US that is not a person of color is true and honest. As a member of the melting pot ( USA) I am to believe that the first President a man of color is evil the devil. When this president leaves the White House someone else will be blame. Wonder what the first woman President will be called remeber she may be your mother and you will be so hurt at the names others will call her.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      That's deep man. Real deep.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • Atheist Are Always Angry


      Someones Mother? Why not just say "Sum dey won uv ar ganmammies mite b pressydant won dey......sow b nyss'"

      March 19, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • Fundie Nutters Gone Wild

      (special present for baby-talk '..Angry')

      March 19, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • Atheist Are Always Angry


      March 19, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • censored in the usa

      Doesn't anyone remember the last umpteen presidents who were supposed to be the anti-Christ? If you want to see the devil people go look in a mirror & re-read the Bible. The Devil is an embodiment, not a singular boogie man. It is us you & I everyone that ever was & ever will be. We have all sinned against God when we were in heaven. Earth is our prison now, & death is or punishment. However we can all make it back home if we just try. The story of the prodigal son explains this so clearly. Peace.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  10. Basically

    36 pages of Christians and righties showing they are king-hell racists, interspersed with 36 pages of Christians and righties howling that it's everyone else who is the bigot for not accepting their racism.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And that's just chapter two!

      March 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • The real Tom

      There's even more CNN bible-bashing in our next story! Complete with stories about a new pope who, during his childhood, only wanted to be a flamenco dancer.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
  11. The real Tom

    Fruit? Hell yeah! Maybe we can invite Harry over to sing to us.

    " Daaaaay-O, Daaa-aaa-aaa O ! Daylight come and me wan' go home

    The he can tell us why guns are so bad.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Butthurt troll can't sing either.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
  12. Wendy

    "I didn't vote for him but he's my president, and I hope he does a good job." John Wayne, speaking on the election of JFK. He was one of the last truly patriotic Republicans who respected the office of the presidency.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      It's not about respecting the president. It's about respecting the people. Repubs can hate his guts (Which they do) for all I care. Just do your job. Boehner has to be the laziest speaker in history. No bills, No votes, no nothin'

      March 19, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  13. Joseph

    The devil is in the details.......Obamacare! He really is the devil!

    March 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Joseph must have a very tiny..ahem..member.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • Billy

      My aren't you a wealth of information. Cry baby cry.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • The real Tom

      So much butthurt from such a small member.

      It's a mystery.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
  14. Reality

    Before Jesus and Satan, there was Buddha and Satan. It appears the NT scribes like the OT writers, copied quite a bit from those who came before:

    To wit:

    ProfessorMarcus Borg [Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings] notes the following traditions about the Buddha that provide something of a parallel to this cluster:

    "Then Mara the evil one drew near to him, and said: "Let the Exalted One exercise governance, let the Blessed One rule."
    "Now what, O evil one, do you have in view, that you speak this way to me?"

    "If the Exalted One were to wish the Himalayas, king of the mountains, to be gold, he might determine it to be so, and the mountains would become a mass of gold?'

    The Exalted One responded: "Were the mountains all of shimmering gold, it would still not be enough for one man's wants. He that has seen suffering – how should that man succu-mb to desires?"

    Then Mara the evil one thought: "The Exalted One knows me! The Blessed One knows me!" And sad and sorrowful he vanished then and there. (Samyutta Nikaya 4.2.10)

    During the six years that the Bodhisattva practiced austerities, the demon followed behind him step by step, seeking an opportunity to harm him. But he found no opportunity whatsoever and went away discouraged and discontent. (Lalitavistara Sutra 18)

    I thought: "Suppose I practice entirely cutting off food?' Then the deities came to me and said: "Good sir, do not practice entirely cutting off food. If you do so, we shall infuse heavenly food into the pores of your skin and you will live on that." (Majjhima Nikaya 36.27)

    Also said Jesus and Satan temptation story was simply another myth concocted by Matthew (plagiarized from Buddhas' writings?) and later copied by Luke. e.g. http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb139.html

    March 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Shocked Person o.O

      Wait.....are you saying God manage to convey the same message to different culture throughout the world?


      March 19, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Sure

      That's right, the same thing. God went to all those different cultures pretending to be a different god in each of them, and he told them if they believe in or worship any of the other versions of him, they end up in hell.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Atheist Are Always Angry

      Are you sure you're sure?

      March 19, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • Reality

      Obviously, some did not read the last sentence.

      Also said Jesus and Satan temptation story was simply another myth concocted by Matthew (plagiarized from Buddhas' writings?) and later copied by Luke. e.g. http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb139.html

      March 19, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Yep

      Obviously, most don't give a damn about your post.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:48 am |
  15. The real Tom

    Aww, poor little troll is butthurt.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • Arvn Huac

      I'm surprised your JesusTroll hasn't been decimating posts on this story too.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Which one?

      March 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Careful, Arvn. "Decimating" is a big word for you to be throwing around.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      It's certainly bigger than your balls, troll.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Arvn Huac

      Bethany aka Atheism is not aka captain america aka truth be told aka too many other sock puppets to list. e plubibus unum.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • Arvn Huac

      pluribus, not plubibus

      March 18, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Ah, thanks, Arv. Yeah, the poor thing really is thin-skinned. Holds a grudge, too. You'd think it would get over losing an argument on an anonymous blog, wouldn't you?

      March 18, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • The real Tom


      March 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Arvn can't handle the big words.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
  16. The real Tom

    Hey, look, it's herbie stealing my name again! What a fvcking little fruit.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
  17. The real Tom

    I haven't shaved my legs lately so I think I'll apply.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  18. The real Tom

    Burnett's holding a casting call for the part of a first lady who looks like a wookie for his new reality show, "Death Star Apprentice President."

    March 18, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  19. Joseph

    The movie producers did an excellent job finding someone to resemble the Devil. He just happens to resemble the community organizer as well.........

    March 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Still fighting the Civil War, huh, Joseph? You know, you guys lost.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • Joseph

      Left wing radical progressives cry racism to anyone that opposes O'devilbama..........he is destroying this nation you freaks!

      March 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Yeah, the stock market's up, housing prices are going up, unemployment is dropping, the wars are over. Yup, chicken little, you must be right.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @joseph......................Hello joseph are you there? Reality please. Just reality.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • The real Tom

      All that. Wow. And it only took the false sense of security that only $16 Trillion could provide.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:03 am |
  20. whitepine

    The American people are just plain stupid. They created their own problems and don't want to change. So they are destroying themselves. Blaming the President is just denial as the American people elected thousands of politicians this past November and look how good that is going.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:22 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.