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. WF

    I think it's obvious that if asked to compare the depicted character to any important person, Obama's name would probably be on top of the list. The reason the casting decision raises my eyebrows is because I thought Satan was supposed to be an approachable, attractive, beguiling human specimen. My apologies for the contrast, Mr. President 😛

    March 31, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  2. Mark

    I do not see the resemblance either; so I al let to think that those that already hated him would have no problem drawing some strange correlation. Whatever

    March 31, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  3. splassher6

    Well barry is the Anti-Christ makes sense to me

    March 31, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What's the matter, Christian7? Get called out on your name? Punted by CNN?

      March 31, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  4. liyas

    For me he looks like an innocent and hopeless man.

    March 31, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  5. Memo2

    To me looks like another sales man.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:04 am |
  6. Who would have played the perfect role of satan?

    candida moss

    March 31, 2013 at 7:47 am |

    Obama looks more like Jesus hair like wool

    March 31, 2013 at 6:55 am |
  8. Pope Francis

    No fools...the guy looks like one of those bad guys from Star Wars.

    March 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  9. Justin

    Libs must be feeling insecure b/c Obama is such a bad president.

    March 30, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  10. zandhcats

    Whoever put the President's picture next to the satan likeness picture is put more flames to the fire to those ignorant haters.

    March 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Dianne

      I agree. CNN is contributing to this nonsense by continuing to run this story. This is not news.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  11. Leni

    This TV series is winning it's time slot every week, millions are watching and THIS is the issue CNN chooses to focus on? I call extreme Bias here.

    March 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  12. Shout-Out: TheBibleReloaded


    March 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  13. Chuck

    actualy this photo is doctored, in the Movie, he is greenish/gray like the
    emporer from Star Wars.

    Just watch the video and you will see

    I think it just is an odd coincedence

    March 28, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  14. Kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved
    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    Truth is..exclusive

    March 28, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • marsally

      Seriously – stop doing this kind of thing. You do Christianity more harm than good with the very people you say you want to reach. Too long – too preachy – too much about you!

      March 29, 2013 at 8:04 am |
  15. Sylvan

    Mark Burnett is a lying SLUG clearly the actor who does not look like Obama was made up to look like our president.
    Shame on you !!!

    March 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  16. Noel

    The problem with the mini-series the BIBLE is that there is a overwhelming under representation of anyone with an African, South Asian, and Asian representation. It is not that Satan is a Obama-Look a like. As a Christian I wonder why other races are left out of the Christian Story ...it really makes me sad

    March 28, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • randoid1234

      Considering the fact that the majority of the bible takes place far away from those places, it's not that strange.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • sam

      Ah, the mad voice of PC!

      March 31, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  17. Kg

    Not a big fan of this president any more since his plan to dump 20 million illegals into this country but I believe this was done deliberately. The actual actor doesn't look like Obama but the make they applied to him makes the resemblance uncanny!

    March 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  18. Golijat

    Be paid weekly and earn like a boss! I just got a gorgeous Mercedes from having made $7988 this – 4 weeks past and just over ten grand last month. Without any doubt, this is the easiest work I've ever done. I began this 3 months ago and immediately made myself more than $85... per hour. This is what I do Rich45.cℴm

    March 27, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  19. William

    Let's see, eyes are different, nose is different, cheeks are different, chins are different, lips are different, eyebrows and forehead are different, and moles are way different. I guess a lot of people think that all black people look the same, then. (I am NOT one of them)...

    March 26, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  20. JR

    From now on any actors who look anything remotely like Obama can only play "good guys" per liberal conspiracy theorists everywhere

    March 26, 2013 at 8:12 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.