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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.
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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. Mark

    Lenard Nemoy. Older Spock. Settled.

    March 20, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  2. Wallabear

    (From his prision cell): "Well, naturally... evil would only have black skin." – Bernie Made-Off

    March 20, 2013 at 8:04 am |
  3. baby, you got me

    The dude looks like Obama, Satan, and my cousin, but my cousin is white. Wait, wait, Obama is white, too!

    March 20, 2013 at 5:39 am |
  4. Captain Obvious

    The actor in his publicity shots doesn't resemble Obama. http://www.whogottherole.com/tv-news/satan-of-the-bible-and-obama-seen-eye-to-eye-33421 - see for yourself. Which suggests that rather than the "Hand of God" it was the hand of the makeup artist causing this likeness. They darkened the actor's skin to a tone very close to Obama's (minus the metallic sheen they gave the actor). Does anyone think the director had nothing to do with the way his Satan came out of the makeup session?

    And while we're talking directors, it's just tacky to have your wife play the Virgin Mary - that's less like the Hand of God and more like the Hand of Tommy Wiseau.

    March 20, 2013 at 4:00 am |
  5. Quest ion

    Did they see Satan the devil?

    March 20, 2013 at 1:56 am |
  6. bethany

    jesus is lord of all and died to save everyone. there will be people in heaven we didn't expect to see and others won't be there we were sure would make it

    March 20, 2013 at 1:42 am |
    • Satan's can opener

      Chad has a perfect right to hallucinate and believe in whatever he chooses. He does NOT have the right to legislate based on his silliness.

      March 20, 2013 at 4:01 am |
    • sam stone

      Bethany/Chad: Save mankind from what? His manipulative, vindictive pr1ck daddy's temper tantrum?

      March 20, 2013 at 6:23 am |
    • Science

      Education

      Moving forward CREATIONIST you might want to take a blood test?

      Scientists Find Genes Linked to Human Neurological Disorders in Sea Lamprey Genome

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130224142915.htm

      Peace

      Facts work .

      March 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okWkmgkS00w

      March 20, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • Science

      Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

      Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.

      http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/intelligentdesigncase/dovertrialtranscripts.htm

      March 20, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  7. Reality

    As noted on p.36 of the commentaries:

    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 20, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • Satan's can opener

      You might as well post a dialogue between Santa and the Easter Bunny.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:16 am |
  8. Mr Everyman

    Broadcasts and the film could be checked for subliminal suggestion images. Subliminal suggestion images are not realized as focused images but the eyes pick up the images and transmit them to the brain for emotional impact. A lack of the images probably means the resemblance is coincidental.

    March 19, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
  9. sam s nath

    It is another ignorance of Biblical symbols. Satan does not look like Obama, Pope or Saddam Hussien for that matter. Satan is symolic for ignorance of oneness with God. While Jesus unites peoplle in love as Child of God, our ignorance and Ego keeps us separate. Anti Christ is that ego within us, that does not let us part of the whole and realize our oneness with God.
    So if you want to find Satan, look inside your greed, hatred and ignorance. You can not find them in famous or unfamous people around us.
    Sam S nath is author of the book "Real Lost symbols of Bible!"

    March 19, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      The name of his book should be "Real lost people of bible"

      March 19, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Satan's can opener

      I know this will come as a great shock to you, but you're an idiot.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • Satan: nothing more than Santa with dyslexia

      sam hasn't been promoted to idiot yet. In fact, he still has a ways to go before he even gets to blithering nincompoop.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:23 am |
  10. Guest

    No wonder Jesus resisted temptation; I wouldn’t take anything offered by that creepy black dude either. Oh, right, and Satan is kinda creepy too…

    March 19, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
  11. darrell

    Sorry Roma. Unlike you Obama is a Muslim

    March 19, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      OK lets say he is. What does that make bush? The worst terrorist attack on US soil in history happened when bush was president. The attack was made by Muslim radicals. How can you explain the fact their have been ZERO successful attacks in the US by Muslims since Obama has been in office? You could say the worst things that have happened to the US (Pearl harbor, W W I, W W II, depression, First WTC attack, depression) Happened when a non Muslim was in the white house.
      So if Obama is a Muslim, The US is SAFE. How ironic.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • Achoo

      Hmm. So, it's the muslim safety patrol.

      Button up that Burka, sister.

      March 19, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @achoo................Call it what ever you want. You didn't say I was lying so you're admitting it's true. Facts are facts. I'm not the one making stuff up by calling him a Muslim.

      March 19, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  12. chrystine

    I don`t see any resemblance he`s much much older than Obama, the eyes, nose, mouth doesn`t match.

    March 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  13. ug

    Ovomit is satan!

    March 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Ovomit..............a new one. funny. At least you've shown some imagination.

      March 19, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • mcwreiole

      Holy Cow, that is no coincidence!

      March 19, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  14. blaze562

    Hell yea it looks like Obama, could be an old mug shot but yeeeep it's him,

    March 19, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Akira

      Yep. The POTUS has a portrait hidden that ages as his appearance gets younger, evidenced by the "old" mug shot on the right. You found his secret out. Congrats.

      March 19, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Thomas Crowne

      Time for an art heist...

      March 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  15. John G.

    Nuts

    March 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  16. MrHighMighty

    This is another example of the producers of "The Bible" being wrong. Scripture tells us that Satan was the most beautiful and powerful of the angels. He rebelled against unity with God, and was cast out of heaven, and was granted permission to be ruler of the earth as part of God's plan to dispose of evil forever. So Satan retained many powers. Satan is the original shape-shifter. He can take many forms. For trying to tempt Jesus, to divert Jesus from His mission, would Satan really appear as a dark, ugly, and depressing figure? Why would Jesus pay attention to that? Satan is doomed, but he's no fool.

    March 19, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Considering all the HE'LL that is breaking loose, I'd would say Satan is kicking Jesus AZZ. But since neither exists, It doesn't matter.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Jimmy

      MrHighMighty
      If Satan isn't a fool then why hasn't he bothered to read Revelation, realize the trap God has set for him, and come up with some clever scheme to avoid being doomed? Following somebody else's master plan aimed at humiliating you doesn't sound very smart at all.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Some might say it's selective predestination.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • End Religion

      "Some might say it's selective predestination."

      And those people should be heavily medicated as they are a danger to society.

      March 19, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • MrHighMighty

      Jimmy,
      Thank you for your question, but it's based on a misunderstanding. Satan knows he cannot change God's Will. We shouldn't waste our time contemplating the motivations of Satan, but some basic truths need to be understood if we are to understand the nature of evil and the remedy available to us through Jesus Christ.
      Satan was created with the capacity to rebel, and he did. At the time of his rejection of God, there was nowhere in any part of creation that was apart from God. Whether or not Satan at the time knew there would be a "bottomless pit" is anyone's guess. But now there is, and Satan will spend eternity there, because he rejected God. Satan knows Scripture, he knows what is in Revelation and knows his fate. He knows that God is Holy and Just and must punish sin. Satan can't change his punishment and he knows it. Satan's powers are still in force only with God's permission.
      In truth, Satan's punishment has already started, with the Resurrection of Christ, and now Satan is filled with even more enmity and jealousy as he sees Man as an object of God's eternal Love, which Satan will never feel again. God provides Man with a gift of Mercy and Love and forgiveness, but not Satan who was once the highest of the heavenly host. So Satan seeks to hurt God, by dragging Man, God's greatest creation, away from God whenever he still can. And yet even what appear to be Satan's triumphs on this Earth, are still nothing more than the necessary parts of God's plan to solve the problem of evil forever.

      March 20, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • Benjamin Braddock

      If Satan was created by God and he cannot change God's will, then everything attributed to Satan is actually God, using Satan as a patsy.

      God is the evil one.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Satan's can opener

      Any time I read "Scripture tells us", I stop reading. "Santa says...." has about the same impact.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • Satan: nothing more than Santa with dyslexia

      But you must admire the fine-tuned cluelessness of trying to get atheists to believe you using a book you know they don't believe.

      By Chadian logic, that kind of fine-tuned stupidity can only be the work of God.

      March 20, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • Jimmy

      MrHighMighty
      I've heard all of this before, but it still fails to make any sense.

      "We shouldn't waste our time contemplating the motivations of Satan,"
      Plenty a senseless war has been waged because the warlords of one, or both, sides insisted that trying to understand the concerns of the enemy was a waste of time. I suggest reading Paradise Lost if you want to get beyond the one-dimentional characterization of him that we get from Christian scripture.

      "Satan's powers are still in force only with God's permission."
      Why would God allow this? I know that you'll probably say that the time will come when he won't allow it anymore, and I assume that you think that this time is soon, but why not 1000 years further into the future, or even a million? More souls to judge can only be better, right? Why not thousands of years ago? A truly compassionate god would be interested in less human suffering, you'd think? The only way having him stuck in this role makes any sense is if he is an unthinking component of a system that's designed to keep people in their place.

      "which Satan will never feel again"
      Which brings us to free will. You're saying that Satan can never change his mind, which kinda means that he doesn't have the ability to. Satan is supposed to be exactly like human beings, with free will but, like Mark Twain observed, who prays for his soul? Christianity seems to depend upon this character keeping to script, and doesn't actually see him as a thinking, intelligent being.

      March 20, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • MrHighMighty

      Jimmy, thank you for the response. But you are still not understanding the sovereignty of Almighty Holy God, and the consequences of sin against Him. Who are you to question God's timeline? Who are you to judge His plan? On what higher moral sense do you base your judgment? Do you know better than God? Good luck with that.

      My comment about avoiding the contemplation of the motivations of Satan was meant in comparison to spending time on studying more uplifting concepts, not avoiding understanding the enemy.

      Jimmy, Satan is not exactly like Man. Satan was created before Man and with knowledge and powers and accountability that Man does not have. Moreover, Satan was not created in God's image, as Man is. Satan rebelled and his nature is now eternal opposition to God. Satan is a thinking and intelligent being, but his nature of opposition and being fallen from Grace cannot be changed or cleansed, unlike Man.

      And as always for the atheist responders: you're only fooling yourselves. Scripture tells us that everyone is born with an innate sense of God's existence. Your resistance is a product of your desire to live your life outside of God's authority, and your anger is a product of your knowledge of your fallen nature and fear of death. You come to this blog seeking reinforcement from others with the same internal conflict. But at least you are here, reading a Belief Blog, and there is still hope for you, as God stands at your door and knocks, until your last breath.

      March 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  17. Galactus93

    This rumor was started by Iran in the 1970's who called America Satan.

    March 19, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      This show is newly produced. How did Iran in the 70's get involved? Iran calls everybody Satan.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  18. SMH

    A WITE woman gave birth to him and he was raised by a WHITE family from Kansas. An he now lives in the WHITE house. No wander he grew up to be satan with all this WHITE shi* everywhere!

    March 19, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      wite ? look bigotry is wrong period. Those same white people raised him to be the gentlemen he is. People think he's Satan because he's black, some think he's Satan because he's white. The man cant win.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Given birth to by a white woman, but raised by other white people in Kansas? Are we talking about Obama, or Superman? 🙂

      March 19, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Jimmy......The birthers think he was born in Kenya.

      March 19, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Satan's can opener

      Yeah, no wander.

      March 20, 2013 at 4:04 am |
  19. scarf

    Actually, I thought he looked like Leonard Nimoy.

    March 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Leonard Nimoy? That's a stretch. I voted for Obama and I think it's closer to Obama.

      March 19, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • scarf

      Have you seen Nimoy lately?

      March 19, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Ah no. Is it that bad?

      March 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • scarf

      He's definitely showing his age.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Damn.

      March 19, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  20. Reality

    Only for the new members:

    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

    Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian, has a different take on hell. He reasons that the his god does not tolerate imperfection in his spiritual realm. Therefore, any soul dying in mortal sin will simply disappear since hell the imperfect state does not exist therefore satan does not exist.

    March 19, 2013 at 5:49 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.