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."

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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)

    CNN you need to use more discretion in what you post..you are the only one I have seen that write about this trash, be a LEADER and use some discretion....THIS IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES no matter who it is....Our freedom of speach makes us looks like total fools....I expect more from you, but you are really getting as well as the radical conservatives!!!!

    March 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • John


      March 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  2. Jesus Christ: Madman or Something Worse?


    March 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Pauline

      Jesus could have just been some ordinary schmo in life, but had all this ridiculous superhero stuff slapped on him completely against his will. This possibility actually makes me a little sad for the poor guy. He could have been the very first victim of Christians who think they know better than everyone else.

      March 19, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  3. God - A Reassuring Fable (Carl Sagan) (HD)


    March 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  4. Try Logic Instead

    "He told me there was no God and all men have morals and their own laws. So I began to think and watch how rude he was to people and how unhappy he was but I said if there is no God then I really don't have to worry and started to do the things to him that he was doing to others, but he said it wasn't right. I said who got to decide that?"

    I'm sorry but you have to admit, this idiot is pretty funny. I don't think they intended it but I love where they say all men "have their own laws" then almost immediately says the supposed atheist is "doing things" to others as if they already forgot that the atheist just told them they were still bound by "morals" and "laws".

    Maybe if we speak to them like three year olds they will understand. Here we go.

    Here are some basic laws that people decided upon to make their lives better:

    Do not murder.
    Do not steal.
    Do not r a p e.

    Why should all humans follow those laws? Is it because if they don't they will have some intangible soul sent to a place of eternal torment? Is it for the reward of an eternity in bliss?

    If either of those are why you obey those laws, then you are a terrible person who doesn't deserve the live they have been given, because if the only reason you are not a murdering, thieving r a p i s t is because you have been bribed or scared into obedience, then you are not worth the kb it takes to store these letters on CNN's server.

    I choose to obey those laws because I love my fellow man as I love myself which is a simple principle to live by that outdates the bible by nearly 800 years as it was included in the code of Hammurabi. Yes, there were exceptions they made at the time to allow them to abuse their slaves and people they didn't like, but the principle was there long before Abraham or Moses or Jesus were ever a sparkle in their parents eyes.

    The bible did not invent morality, humans did. All the bible did was take those good principles and couple them with a bunch of other laws which gave them loopholes on how and when they didn't have to follow those principles.

    again and again

    Is it nasty to tell a Big Foot aficionado that you don't believe them and don't think Big Foot is real? Is it nasty to infer something about the intelligence of one who believes in Big Foot? Would saying anything like that reveal anything about yourself other than the fact that it takes more than some 1970's footage of a large hairy creature to make you a believer?

    Sadly, there is far more evidence for Big Foot than for a divine superbeing Christ returning to save (some of) mankind.

    I have no idea why anyone would think my posts are so powerful and moving to have to try to delete them over and over. There's nothing even remotely offensive in these posts, though i will admit I have posted some that might not pass a clean filter...

    I wonder if the person trying to play thought police knows all they are doing is getting my and others posts re-posted so they constantly stay in the recently posted and tend to get viewed more than a post that was simply forgotten. Silly Wabbit...

    I guess they do know and just really really like my stuff....

    March 19, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Truth.

      (Crickets) everybody ignores your diatribe. ;(

      March 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • .

      Truth is...truth is the little cunt name stealing bigot.

      March 19, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Truth.

      Sorry, I'm not here all day monitoring which names have already been taken. Have a good day protecting the message board from Christians. You are a real hero!

      March 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Love your neighbor as yourself is not one of the Laws in the Code of Hammurabi

      March 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Howard

      Thank you for your re-posts. With the number of posts being deleted it would be a shame to just let the ignorant sycophants win, even when it is a childish game of "Hide" where reasonable people post their comments then cover their eyes and count to 100 while the Christards run around behind different names and make spurious claims, and when they can't back up their claims they resort to just hiding the comments they are unable to refute.

      Keep up the good work clarity.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • End Religion

      atheist, me said:"love they neightbor as thyself is not in the code of hammurabi"

      196. If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out.

      This is "eye for an eye" or the Golden Rule of "treat others as you wish to be treated" and further "love thy neighbor as thyself." I believe the only original thing Jesus is ever purported to have said is "love thine enemy" – everything else is a copy from something else.

      Then the question becomes, why was everything your god supposedly said first said by others? Can't your god think for himself? Why could your god only come up with one good goal? Surely he's smarter than that?

      March 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  5. Morality without God


    March 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  6. Do YOU Know Your Bible? (Part 1: The Old Testament I)


    March 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  7. Science Assistant

    Dinosaur-Era Climate Change Study Suggests Reasons for Turtle Disappearance
    Mar. 14, 2013 — The dry, barren prairie around Alberta's Drumheller area was once a lush and subtropical forest on the shores of a large inland sea, with loads of wetlands inhabited by dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles and small mammals.
    CREATIONISTS why is your timeline GOOFY ??? Just wondering ?????

    March 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Real Science

      If there is one person in the world who should have an answer to this question, it might have been Francis Crick, an atheist and Nobel Prize winning geneticist. His solution: Panspermia, i.e. life originated somewhere else in the universe and was deposited as spores here on earth!

      Why would a Nobel Prize winning geneticist–someone who knew more about the basis "stuff" of life than just about anyone else on the planet–propose such a far-out theory?

      Could it be because he knew that there was no possible scenario in which life could have developed on earth all by itself so he had to move the problem to another place in space where the conditions for life to have developed must have been different (and where it can't be studied)? Let’s be honest. This is not science. It is faith.

      Atheists like to imagine that they have science on their side. But all science is based on philosophical assumptions and presuppositions. The atheist who doesn’t know this is simply ignorant of the facts.

      It is a choice of faith whether to believe that life on this planet came into being and evolved all by itself, or under the guidance of God, but failure to recognize that faith is involved in both cases is simply ignorance—often willful ignorance. As for me, I just don’t have as much faith as the atheist.

      March 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  8. Science Assistant

    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 1:07 pm |
  9. SMH

    To those who have been copied by others you know that copying or pretending to be someone else is the best form of flattery. Be proud that some idiot is so envious of you they took the time out of there BUSY DAY to try to be you. Haters are the best MOTIVATORS! An how is it that all you wannabees know so much about all the free programs the government gives. Is it because you are not only a spokesman but a client? Don't you wish your boy or girlfriend was hot like me don't you? Damn it must sucks being you so it has to feel great to be someone else for a change hell I would pretend to be someone else if I was a LOSER too.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  10. jay105000

    Definitively people see what they want to see. I don't even see any resemblance aside of the fact that both of them are black people but that's it.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  11. ME TOO

    I think it looks more like Condi Rice will look in 5 or 10 years,

    March 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  12. I Love It

    Right when the republicans are trying to rebrand themselves to hide their racism and bigotry an article like this pops up which get's them jumping out of the shadows in droves. They have lost their relevance faster than a pet rock loses it's appeal...

    March 19, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  13. CraigRB

    Well, it's nonsense that the show's producer says it's "nonsense" that it's a likeness of Obama because it is a likeness of Obama.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • ditto

      That's nonsense

      March 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  14. Critical Thinking


    March 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  15. Science Assistant

    Richard Feynman Experiment Recreated, 'Confirms Quantum Mechanics,' Physicist Says


    March 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Science Assistant

      Richard Feynman on God


      March 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  16. Reality

    The 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 12:17 pm |
    • egtrust your father

      Write down three major temptations in your life. Then go to the bible and reallyrad and i can tell you now you will find a GOD given way to combat that temptation.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  17. egtrust your father

    And even in that if you will trust god and accept that his son died for all these sins we have created and repent he will give to you everlasting life. Why fight against god when he offers so much for so little. God bless

    March 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  18. Science Assistant


    March 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Science

      Foot Note:

      Hey the Fairy a Fossil yet CREATIONISTS ?

      March 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  19. Imagine If All Atheists Left America


    March 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  20. ...And What If I'm wrong?


    March 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
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.