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. Topher

    Who watched the show? Did the actor at least do a good job?

    March 19, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • The real Tom

      At what? Convincing anyone that Satan exists?

      Since nobody's seen him, how would anyone know if he's been portrayed accurately?

      March 19, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Topher

      Fine. How about was he portrayed Biblically accurate?

      March 19, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      That's like asking if they stayed true to The Lord Of The Rings.
      There are so many interpretations of the bible, I'm sure you would say some is accurate and some is not, others would say different things are accurate and others not.
      It is subjective, just like the bible.

      March 19, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Topher


      I haven't seen this episode yet, so I don't even know what scenes he was in. But fair enough. While I think the first two episodes were entertaining in themselves, I thought they skipped over some very important things.

      March 19, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  2. Ayren

    I am sooooooo tired of the religious freaks making every damn association there is to make Obama look bad.... First of all there is no such thing as "SATAN". Second of all this is an actor made to look like Satan in a movie, anyone who associates any resemblance at all to this person or "SATAN" as if we ALL know what SATAN looks like if he did exist, are a bunch of uneducated idiots. ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!

    March 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  3. Steve1959

    This so called article must be in retaliation to The Bible having a rating almost 13 times that of CNN's most popular shows.

    March 19, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  4. ShaneB

    I'm sure the actor is pleased, not.

    March 19, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • I call BS

      I'm sure he is, too. After all, he has a paying gig and people who are dumb think he looks like the leader of the free world.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Jesus

      Leader of the free world???

      March 19, 2013 at 9:44 am |
  5. popseal

    Obama is most likely not the Devil. He does however meet most of the criteria listed in the Bible for the incarnation of Satan as the anti-Christ. He faunts the law to his ow design, supported by the Three Monkey Media, world wide popularity, supporters sound like disciples more than voters, and all around him submit to his presence. Every generation sees a similar phenomenon.

    March 19, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  6. ShaneB

    The actor's obviously older than Obama, so technically Obama looks like him not the other way around.

    March 19, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  7. Spgfled Tom

    Obama isn't the Devil?!!!!

    March 19, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • I call BS

      Gee, how original! Never heard that one before! Gosh, you're a genius.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  8. codemanx

    I don't see it at all, unless Satan reads his lines from a teleprompter in the show. And makes errors like referring to the 15 tribes of Israel or something.

    March 19, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  9. oldbones24

    What a joke this is, Lucifer is/was the most beautiful Angel in Heaven according to scriptures and ancient writings. If he is ugly he can not seduce humanity.

    March 19, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  10. Puddin

    I ain't buying it. I don't think it is any accident that this guy was chosen because he resembles the president. Some people will stoop to anything.

    March 19, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    Since we all know that God wants Christian America to own the world's oil, it must have been Satan who put all those Muslims on top of it.

    March 19, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  12. Seeker

    Maybe there's a resemblence because they both have African ancestry. Just saying, that some idiots find issues with meaningless things in life.

    March 19, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  13. Rev. Rick

    Is this really news? I mean, really? This proves to me everyday why my decision to leave the Republican party was the correct one. They have now become a caricature of themselves.

    March 19, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      They've been a caricature of themselves ever since they took on the guise of Falwell's "Moral Majority".

      March 19, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • rapierpoint

      Rev. Rick – not sure why this story confirms your decision to leave the GOP. Considering most of the claims of Obama looks like Satan and vice versa seem to be coming from the Democrat left. How weird is that?

      March 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • I call BS

      rapier, you aren't terribly bright, are you?

      March 19, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ rapierpoint – So Glenn Beck is now a democrat!?!?! Now I am confused.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  14. Meade21

    Wow....this country is dying and THIS is what people are worried about....???

    March 19, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Saraswati

      Caring about stuff like this is just a hobby for people, like playing golf, or watching baseball or caring about the Oscars. You have to have some light-hearted stuff or what's the point in life?

      March 19, 2013 at 8:40 am |
  15. blf83

    I'm not watching. Perhaps the producers went a bit too far.

    March 19, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  16. LoveGeico

    Actually looks like Jesus

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

      You've seen Jesus alive to know what he looks like?

      March 19, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • .

      You've seen satan alive to know what he looks like?

      March 19, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  17. Real Plumer

    Goes to show you just how predjudice the republicans are to come up with something like this. You notice since they think he's Satan they want to do business with him now!

    March 19, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Saraswati

      Keep in mind that only 24% of them thought he "might" be Satan. Probabaly a lot less thought he actually was. That means at least 76% think he is definitely not Satan.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Obama

      @Sarswati- 24% of the Republican party is a HUGE number!!! So, basically 1/4 ... one-fourth of the second largest majority party in the U.S. of A. is completely delisional. We are screwed!

      March 19, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  18. Focus


    March 19, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • Turn your eyes upon Jesus

      Indeed! Have a blessed day!


      March 19, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • JJ

      Why anyone would bow down and worship an ancient torture device is beyond me.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • Terry

      All hail Mithra the true son of God!

      March 19, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • popseal

      At the Cross can be found redemption, justification, and reconciliation. At the Empty Tomb can be found regeneration, sanctification and Heaven. Secular atheist counselors give you a bill for $200 an hour for a long as you're wiling to pay.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Pauline

      My Dad use to worship Iron Maiden. Does that count?

      March 19, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  19. El Flaco

    Harris Polls discovered that 25% of all Republicans believe that Obama is the Antichrist. To them, Obama is presumably receiving instructions directly from Satan on a daily basis. Of course, the Antichrist in Revelation is a false Messiah, who will deceive those who worship him. Only the faithful are able to recognize him for what he really is.

    This is no coincidence. It is a message to the Evangelical community.

    (Scholars say that the "Antichrist" has come and gone. He was Nero, who was Roman Emperor at the time Revelation was being written. 666 is a numerological code for Nero.)

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

      Yeah, people are nutty. It looks, btw, like it was 24% who thought he "may" be the antichrist...but still nutty.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Pauline

      When you're talking about Revelation you're talking about Jesus' Second Coming, and there are a lot of Christians who think that their religion wouldn't be worth the effort unless they personally got to see their Lord and Savior slaughter all the liberals and end democracy like it says in that book. Take that away and what would be the attraction? Being nice to people? Come on! 🙂

      March 19, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • .

      Actually, el flaco and Pauline are both wrong: Obama ian't the anti-Christ. But I surely wish Pauline would get called home to Jesus soon. 🙂

      March 19, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Steve1959

      Your Harris Poll actually came from a humerous book called Wingnuts. It was not an actual poll.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Pauline

      Nice! Way to show that lovin!

      Whatever makes you think that I would call Jesus "home"? He's more like a Carnival Cruise these days.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  20. Kay

    How can anyone look at this guy and NOT think he looks just like Obama? He's even got the ears.

    March 19, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Saraswati

      I thought he looked a bit like Obama but it's hard to say if "I would have had this not been pointed out first. Someone mentioned he looks like Don Knotts and I could see that too.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • rachel

      I agree that he looks like Obama...this is unfortunate, but everything is purposive, right? 24 percent think he is the antichrist.....this CRAZY.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Pauline

      We're talking about the Republican – Tea Party base here; they've thought that every Democrat president was the antichrist.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Yep

      Kay, don't ever step forward as an eye-witness to anything.

      March 19, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Akira

      Oh, I don't know...I remember my father thinking Reagan was the Anti-Christ, too...and don't even get me started on GWB, lol.
      Besides, isn't the Anti-Christ supposed to be suave, sophisticated, enigmatic, and unite the people? The POTUS definitely doesn't unite people, lol...

      March 19, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • rapierpoint

      Kay – most everyone that is seeing a resemblance is doing so because they've been told there is one. That changes the paradigm. It's like seeing things in clouds. Once someone says "Hey, that one looks like a seahorse", then others will see the seahorse. However, if it's not suggested, they could see anything.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:33 am |
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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.