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. floyd schrodinger

    Yes, the actor who played satan looks like an older Obama. And a cheese sandwich looked like the virgin Mary. Now stop making it into a huge right wing conspiracy to make the world think that our president is evil or a left wing whine saying that "bad guys" made our president look evil.
    FYI: Windows spellcheck re-spells Obama as Osama – huuuum?

    March 19, 2013 at 7:00 am |
    • Saraswati

      I said the same thing when people suggested Mel Gibson's movies were evidence of his racism. Yep, I was one of the fools who said people were reading too much into things. I still don't know the answer, but I can tell you I rolled back my defense when the truth came out about the guy. Is there something going on here? I'll be the first now to admit I have no idea.

      March 19, 2013 at 7:47 am |
  2. LoveGod

    I have a piece of toast that looks more like Obama than this guy. I voted for Obama but I wouldn't have voted for the toast.

    March 19, 2013 at 6:49 am |
  3. Zaphod2010

    It though bush #43 looked more like a monkey!

    March 19, 2013 at 6:43 am |
  4. the AnViL™

    FACT: no gods exist... none.
    FACT: all gods are imaginary.
    FACT: all the authors of the new testament of the bible were anonymous.
    FACT: every account of jebus was hearsay.
    FACT: every supposed artifact delusional xians have attempted to use to support their ridiculous, ancient, slave cult – has been proven to be a fraud.

    those who believe in an imaginary man in the sky are delusional.
    delusional thinking is a form of mental illness.

    those who suffer from delusional thinking should be prohibited from voting, serving on a jury, holding public office, purchasing or owning firearms or teaching public schools.
    tolerance of religious idiocy has to end – and it is.

    cha cha cha

    March 19, 2013 at 6:29 am |
    • Some Random Dude

      You people are just as bad as the Christians who quote 50 bible verses to prove a point.
      So annoying.
      Who cares. No one. No one cares. Just stop.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • Science


      The RCC should come clean about the fake origin story might help ? The talking snake thing .

      Skulls of Early Humans Carry Telltale Signs of Inbreeding

      Mar. 18, 2013 — Buried for 100,000 years at Xujiayao in the Nihewan Basin of northern China, the recovered skull pieces of an early human exhibit a now-rare congenital deformation that indicates inbreeding might well have been common among our ancestors, new research from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Washington University in St. Louis suggests


      March 19, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • Some Random Dude

      What are you even talking about Science that has nothing to do with anything that anyone has said jesus christ you people are insane.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • the AnViL™

      Some Random Dude exhibits clear telltale signs of inbreeding.

      who cares??? people who ask "who cares?" obviously care.

      simmer down now, princess.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:52 am |
    • BoneDog

      Escaped from beneath your bridge again eh?

      March 19, 2013 at 7:03 am |
    • danita

      Might I ask where did you get your facts from unless you yourself is the devil... You're not old enough to know how man was created or did we come from outer space.

      March 19, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • Jecbeanz

      Tolerance has to end? That's your message? If you choose not to believe – don't. It's your choice.

      But I agree with Some Random Dude – you're no different than those who have no tolerance for you because you don't believe.

      March 19, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • freedomliker

      Its okay now. Mommy and daddy didnt have time to spend with you. You will grow out of this rebellion and bitterness some day. You need to smile more.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • the AnViL™

      ancient middle eastern slave cults are physically, psychologically, and socially dangerous to all of humanity.

      the abrahamic religions are predicate on ignorance, misogyny, fear, hate, division, bigotry, and intolerance.

      and fyi – tolerance of ignorance, misogyny, fear, hate, division and bigotry is a bad thing, morons.

      if one thing is clear, if history has shown us anything... it is the complete and total lack of divinity in xianity.

      xians are virtually identical to their muslim cousins. they seek to control others and eschew liberty. they seek to restrict others and stomp on equality.

      xianity – being a slave cult, has instilled the slave mentality in its adherents. they literally desire to be eternally dominated by an unjust, megalomaniacal, vain, jealous, homicidal, infanticidal, intolerant, bigoted, hate filled, imaginary man who lives in the sky.

      they believe it is their moral, ethical, and divine duty to assert that if others do not believe as they do – they are damned to an eternity in a lake of fire. most of them, with great pride and glee are happy to point this out, and relish in the idea that those who do not agree with them will suffer infinitely. evidence of the malevolent nature of xianity.

      time and again – xians prove themselves to be the true force of darkness in this world and an intolerable danger to our nation.

      xianity is the enemy of freedom, liberty, and equality.
      tolerance of religious idiocy is coming to a swift end.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Saraswati


      I agree with you that there are aspects of these religions history, psychology and social order that are dangerous. I agree that those aspects, and possibly the whole religion, should be addressed. But when you make claims that things like "no gods exist" are facts you go to far. We can't know that, and to claim it is to claim knowledge beyond anything you could possibly have.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • the AnViL™

      saraswati – i disagree – i don't think it goes too far at all. not by a longshot.

      over 500 years of science using evidence to dispel the areas of human ignorance once occupied by religious idiocy... never once – ever – uncovering any supernatural means to ANYTHING... and still – a never-ending conga line of impotent xian apologists beating their ignorant, delusional heads against the same retarded arguments - or worse – mentally unstable zealots roaming around like unthinking, raving, drooling zombies. their idiocy consuming brainssss braaaaiinnnnns as they spew their vile, repugnant, hate and ignorance.


      until a naturalistic explanation came to light to explain the movements of the planets and the earth around the sun, ignorant people attributed these things to gods.

      until a naturalistic explanation came to light to explain diseases, ignorant people attributed these things to demons and evil spirits.

      there's a thousand more examples of this.

      question: if none of the answers we actually arrived at ever pointed to "gods"... what makes ANYONE believe "gods" will ever be the answer to any of the questions like "how did the universe begin?" and "what happened before the big bang" etc???

      the real bottom line is:

      just because a naturalistic explanation does not exist presently for many of the questions which anyone can ask – that doesn't give license to ignorant, infantile, delusional suboid humans to answer those questions by skipping all the requisite hard work science demands only to jump directly to 'god did it'.

      in over 500 years – the enlightened path of science has not once uncovered anything supernatural... what makes anyone think that's going to change?

      we now know – the earth isn't flat – yet there are those who cling to the idea that it is.

      ancient middle-eastern slave cults are no different. ignorant people clinging to concepts that have no merit in the 21st century.

      it's time for humanity to shed these childish ideas and push for education... it's the only way we'll eradicate ignorance and evolve as a species.

      and yeah – i could very easily take the safe diplomatic reasonable stance – declaring that i merely do not believe gods exist and i'll suspend belief until evidence of gods surfaces – but guess what.

      i don't need to – and neither do you.

      there's no leprechauns – no unicorns – no pixies – no great pumpkins – no flying spaghetti monsters (sorry ER – no offense bro) – and absolutely no gods.

      and tolerance of religious idiocy is worse than religious idiocy itself.


      March 19, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • censored in the usa

      You sound like a raving lunatic, were you molested by a priest or something...geesh.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • Saraswati

      @AnViL, I agree that nothing I would personally count as evidence of a god has ever been found by science. That's a lot different than saying no god exists. For thousands of years there was no evidence that planets outside the solar system existed, but that did not mean they did not. Heck, there's no evidence aliens exist on other planets but would you make an absolute claim they do not?

      I'm happy to say there is evidence the Christian god as most commonly conceived doesn't exist, since it conflicts in history and science with other of our premises and findings. But there are certainly conceivable gods that do not conflict in this way, such as those that created the universe and left or those that are evil and super tricky. All we can say is that we don't know about these gods. We can't even say that other people don't have evidence, and I think doing so only hurts the argument.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • the AnViL™

      censored in the usa ignorantly spittled:
      "You sound like a raving lunatic, were you molested by a priest or something...geesh."

      here's the translation of your statement/question: "i don't have any actual input and i want to demonstrate to everyone on a national public forum that i'm a retarded idiot."

      also –

      it's text, chump... it doesn't "sound" like anything – synesthesia much?


      March 19, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • the AnViL™

      saraswati – asserting life on other planets in our galaxy – or other planets in our solar system.... all reasonable.

      supernatural claims aren't.

      over 330 million gods?


      March 19, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Saraswati


      None of them to my knowledge actually claim there are 330 million gods (well, Mormons maybe to some extent). That would be unreasonable, at least if they were all the gods of the earth, many of which are contradictory. However, that does not mean any particular one is necessarily unreasonable. Anyway, I know you aren't going to agree so I'll leave it here.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • the AnViL™

      hindus claim around 330 million.. and i SHOULD just agree with you – ya know – to be a smarty pants.

      but you're right.. i disagree – they're all unreasonable.

      way beyond reason.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Saraswati


      Hindus do not believe in 330 million gods as the term "god" is meant today. In fact, many Hindus are roughly monotheistic believing all gods are just aspects of the single "god" created for those who are not ready to understand the real singularity.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      To say there are no gods is also to say that you have a good idea what a god is. Even believers fall short in that. They never seem to have a good definition for what they believe in, or grasp all the implications of what they say they believe. I'd go for a statement more along the lines of "There are no beings at work in this world that can do things that are impossible in this world."

      March 19, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Science

      To the AnViL™ Something the RCC hates NO god(s) required or needed stem cell reserch BIG NO NO

      Scientists Produce Cloned Embryos of Extinct Frog

      Mar. 15, 2013 — The genome of an extinct Australian frog has been revived and reactivated by a team of scientists using sophisticated cloning technology to implant a "dead" cell nucleus into a fresh egg from another frog species.


      with source


      March 19, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • the AnViL™

      in regards to the supposed 330 million hindu gods: hey... just going by what the almighty oracle "wikipedia" has to "say" on the matter...

      3.3, 33.0, 330, 330,000, 330,000,000.....

      all unreasonable.

      and tomtom – maybe we could have a contest – DEFINE YOUR GODS!


      however yooz gaiz define'em... i'm going to forcefully proclaim them all unreasonable.

      you two keep it up.... and i'm cancelling xmass.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Science

      the AnViL™

      The OLD pope to out the angels last xmas so who knows what the NEW OLD pope will do

      Anyone guess, maybe he will cancel it.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Science

      Oops damn thumb got in the way took not to

      March 19, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  5. TJeff1776

    My take IS that the film makers are heavy into the TeePees who displayed the same image at their Washington rally. This movie should be boycotted because of its racial overtones. Typical of Repub influence these days.AND they stare into a mirror wondering WHY their party has become so low-down in the poles..

    March 19, 2013 at 6:05 am |
  6. Josephus

    He is trying to destroy America and Israel, yup, its the devil alright...

    March 19, 2013 at 5:36 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      How is he trying to destroy America??

      March 19, 2013 at 5:58 am |
  7. Josephus

    Was there ever any doubt??

    March 19, 2013 at 5:34 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Considering satan is imaginary like the easter bunny, sure there is doubt.

      March 19, 2013 at 5:59 am |
  8. Don

    Yes the photo I saw looks JUST like Obama in older age. So appropriate I think. If the producers are denying deliberate attempt to portray Obama as the Devil, that's fine. Then let's say it was just God's way of telling everyone that Obama IS the Devil. A greater power lined it up! One way or the other, it got done in Grand Fashion.

    March 19, 2013 at 5:34 am |
  9. Andy Christ

    Saw the series..loved it.
    Its him. There is no other explanation.

    March 19, 2013 at 3:10 am |
    • Josephus

      Love it!

      March 19, 2013 at 5:35 am |
    • Jecbeanz

      The series was great. Whether you are a believer or not – you'll learn something new. It's amazing that with all of our advancements in science and technology – human nature is the same today as it was two thousand years ago. We just don't change our ways.

      With respect to the actor – he looks like him but I don't think it was intentional.

      March 19, 2013 at 7:43 am |
  10. horseyak

    Actually he looks like a black Frank Langella.

    March 19, 2013 at 3:01 am |
  11. Joseph

    i r replubican jeenyus

    the word obamma makez mi hed hurt, i yelll and holler an say the orriginal stuff i makes up that sumone telled me.

    March 19, 2013 at 2:12 am |
  12. Dixiflatline

    Seeing as Lucifer (Satan) was not only an angel, but one of the greatest of the Heavenly Host, shouldn't they have chosen an incredibly beautiful, androgynous actor/actress to fill that role, anyways? Particularly with the whole point being that temptation is supposed to appear easy and seductive...

    March 19, 2013 at 1:51 am |
  13. Joseph

    The devil himself is trying to disarm America. Is that a coincidence too?

    March 19, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • Hmmmmmm

      The depths of your stupidity truly know no bounds.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:07 am |
  14. Joseph

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

    March 19, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • drytr

      he is going to israel

      March 19, 2013 at 2:33 am |
    • drytr

      your chin looks like balls.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:34 am |
  15. Phaerisee

    How did they find out? Curses, we are foiled!

    March 19, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  16. xirume

    That show is total WASP garbage. It's utterly unbelievable that seemingly functional and apparently intelligent adults actually believe in this incredible crap, word for word.

    March 19, 2013 at 1:13 am |
  17. Jeebus People Gone Wild


    March 19, 2013 at 12:47 am |


      March 19, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  18. ThomasM195

    People should be insulted & offended by the fact that some people still believe this ridiculous nonsense that we call "The Bible" and that a television network has the right to slap us in the face with this propaganda once again.

    If you believe in a "god" and if you believe anything in this written work by human beings, then you are a pathetic idiot.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • Dorner

      How sad that you haven't discovered the joy of the off button. My goodness, all the objectionable shows you subject yourself to. Frightening.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Atheist Are Always Angry

      You Mad Bro?

      March 19, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Pby1000

      What would Jesus look like? Assuming he ever existed, of course? Wouldn't he look Middle Eastern? I bet if he ever came to America, he would be discriminated against...

      March 19, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • Atheist Are Always Angry

      You Sad, Bro?

      March 19, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Joseph

      So tell us what you think of Obama's god, Allah?

      March 19, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • Danko Ramone

      Why would they not have "the right" to show it? Freedom of speech, all that, of course, but as much as anything, whether the Bible is fact or fiction, the show 'The Bible,' is essentially just a product being sold to attract viewers to sell as a product to advertisers.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:34 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "So tell us what you think of Obama's god, Allah?"

      People will believe anything Trump says and those making such a claim like this are idiots. Obama is not Muslim, he is christian or does he need to provide his baptismal certificate before you idiots will shut up??? It wouldn't matter what his belief, no test of religion is required under the constitution to hold office but just like your buybull you republitards pick and choose what parts of the constitution you abide by.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:05 am |
    • Jesus

      So tell us what you think of Obama's god, Allah?

      Not that Obama is muslim, but allah is the same god as the one in the bible and in the torah. That’s why Judaism, Christianity and islam are referred to as the three Abrahamic religions.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • NooYawkah

      Waiting for your dissertation on Islam. Still waiting......still waiting....

      Well, while we're waiting for ThomasM to insult "the Prophet" with as much enthusiasm as he tore into the Bible, let me just say that I'm more surprised that John the Baptist had dreadlocks, and that Samson, being from the tribe of Dan, was black.

      March 19, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • censored in the usa

      So angry, Daddy issues?

      March 19, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  19. Elmer


    Be waary, waary quiet.

    I'm hunting libberrals.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Platypus Rex

      Why is Elmer talking like Mr. Chekhov in Star Trek?

      March 19, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Atheist Are Always Angry

      As opposed to say.......Mr. Chekov from The Cosby Show?

      March 19, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • Platypus Rex

      Oh, someone who could read might know about Anton Chekhov, the Russian Literary giant, but no reason for you to know that, bethany.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:51 am |
  20. Kev

    It's an old Sith mind meld trick.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:24 am |
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About this blog

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.