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. William

    Any artist rendering a portrait of Obama that turned out looking like the Satan as shown in this report would never want it seen out of fear of never again receiving a commision request. Then again, to anyone who see a likeness...they call that racism when you cannot get beyond skin color. Then again, perhaps this is abstract impressionism?

    March 26, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  2. jet66250

    Barack Obama does not look like Miroslav Satan..

    He is the president and doesnt even play hockey

    March 26, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  3. Bubba

    It is sick how the Far Right has no problems with Jesus, born in Nazareth, being portrayed as a light skinned, light haired (sometimes blond), blue eyed, thin Savior, while they have no issues with the Devil looking like Obama.
    The Far Right fails to realize that via actions like these, that they loose credibility with the moderates like me, who they they need to give them the additional political clout they seek.
    The Far Right does more harm to Christianity, than the Left ever will. By pandering to their sicko extremist, they loose the rest of us. Good Ridance to Bad Rubbish.

    March 26, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • RK

      Umm, it is a media and your leftist leaders that drew the Satan-Obama conspiracy theory. Sorry to burst your bubble. You can continue to look for new fodder to hate the Republicans though, my dear "moderate" friend.

      March 26, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  4. Universe

    God in Quran says, (Islamic scripture)

    “Does the human being not see that we created him from a tiny drop, then he turns into an ardent enemy?” [36:77]

    “He raises a question to us – while forgetting his initial creation – "Who can resurrect the bones after they had rotted?" [36:78

    ‘Say, "The One who initiated them in the first place will resurrect them. He is fully aware of every creation." [36:79]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    ‘They said, "You have to be Jewish or Christian, to be guided." Say, "We follow the religion of Abraham – monotheism – he never was an idol worshiper." [2:135]

    “Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]

    “The Messiah, son of Mary is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate!” [5:75]

    “It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is.” [19:35]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    “They do not value God as He should be valued. God is the Most Powerful, the Almighty.”[22:74]

    “If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of God. They follow only conjecture; they only guess.” [Quran 6:116]

    “There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Omniscient.” [2:256]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • William

      We may all drink from the same vessel but the water we drink is the water meant for us and no other. While the water we swallow may have been pure, what we give back is often poisoned by us. Gods word is like water but thank you for passing on that information. I appreciate it.

      March 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  5. The Social Preacher


    March 26, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  6. JoJo

    Worst biblical movie ever made.

    March 26, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  7. jt

    Typical Liberal whites thinking every black in America looks alike.....There such racist on the left. This guy looks nothing like Obama becides the bony cheeks there is NOTHING similar.Well becides the skin i guess the left couldnt help to see that first. But i must say ty to the left you have made this show about the real story of mankind even more popular 🙂
    I think i speak for the other 2.3 billion Christians around the world when i say "Thank You"

    March 25, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Saraswati

      AP Study:

      Explicit racism: 79% Republican, 32% Democrat
      Implicit racism: 64% Republican, 55% Democrat


      March 26, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • cedar rapids

      watch yourself jt, bearing false witness is a huge no-no.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  8. John

    Looks just like him. Anyone who says otherwise is either delusional or has an ulterior motive. For the latter, many fit into that category.

    March 25, 2013 at 12:53 am |
  9. Stanley Edwards

    Anyone who sees any resemblance here is truly a person without sight. Obama's eyes are not opened as wide, his nostrils are more flaired, his mouth is wider and his chin is not as wide or squared. It is my true belief that no matter who would had played the devil someone would have stated that it resembles the current president.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  10. janey33

    I have not been watching the miniseries, but the photo is interesting and does somewhat resemble Obama. I highly doubt that it was intentional. No one knows what Satan looks like, but to use Obama's own words...if Satan had a son he would look like Obama.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  11. Kyle Obergfell

    Lucifer was supposed to be the most beautiful angel.
    He's supposed to be about temptation and lust and
    greed... bad things in attractive packages.
    This is by design to look like Obama..
    it's so obvious ... come on. Come on.

    They did a terrible job.
    It's about as believable as the GQ Jesus
    that looks like Kenny Loggins from the
    pamphlet the 7DA left at my door last week.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  12. Tax Damned Churches NOW

    That “preacher” OSteen can take his entire family to Morocco on a lark confirms it is long past time to demand these crystal cathedrals pay their property taxes and fees and meet commercial zoning requirements instead of destroying neighborhoods with traffic and height violations while foisting their infrastructure burden off on struggling individual homeowners.

    March 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Austin

      i wonder if anyone stumbled in to church and found the Holy Spirit. 667 people did at my small church last year. Im sure they do in texas. Step off.

      March 25, 2013 at 10:26 pm |

    The resemblance is more than skin-deep.

    March 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  14. akmac65

    The series in question is shameful in that it applies a distinctly Christian slant to the Old Testament. "God" is represented as the stereotypical Jesus Christ, when that is purely a Christian invention. Not only that, Jesus is portrayed as a typical Medieval Jesus with long flowing light colored hair, as opposed to the true appearance of the people of that time and locale.

    March 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Frank

      Every true christian knows Jesus was white.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  15. TMcD

    He's a liar, pure and simple. Anyone who is being honest immediately sees a older President Obama when they see this image. It's revolting how this great man has been treated by your bigoted country since he took office. Does Donald Trump have money tied up in this series?....

    March 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • MP

      Your in denial

      March 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • ugh

      Yeah because no one ever just looks like another person without it trying to be some kind of political statement. Nope, no one has ever resembled another human being for any purpose other than to slander them.

      March 24, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • jt

      LOL a great man LOL. Your cute little man
      If this is what you see as a great man then i think i have found the reason your still single........ You set you bar WAY TOO LOW KID!

      March 25, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  16. Deborah Love

    If you look at the depictions of Christ, God, Angels, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, et.al., the "good" associated with the Bible, the depictions are Caucasians or people of European descent. Now take a look at the depictions of the anything that is bad or evil. These depictions are typically show people who are dark color, brown, black and/or of African or other non-Caucasians. Please provide a rational response to this interesting subject.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  17. Darwin

    Obama is way better than romney

    March 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  18. Mike in SA

    Satan is pretty upset that people keep comparing Obama to him too. He does have his standards too, you know.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  19. History Channel's "The Bible" Parts 3 & 4 - In Under 11 Minutes!


    March 24, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  20. Kathleen

    Free publicity for the series is all it is. If it was noticed by the producers BEFORE the series was completed they all probably had an "aha" moment. "Hey, this guy looks like Obama, and he's playing the Devil. That ought to get us some free PR." What is sad is the fact that people are actually making the comparison, just more evidence of the "dumbing down of America", what are they thinking, we all know Bush is the Devil, Chavez said so years ago!!!

    March 24, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • RK

      Sometimes the media shoots itself in the foot, doesn't it?

      March 26, 2013 at 4:16 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.