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."

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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. Ho Hum Christians are Dumb

    This is a way better site about Jeebus and the Christian book of fictions: http://evilbible.com

    May 4, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Science

      Agree............bible NASTY !

      That red devil with the funky horns...........and his partner the fairy.........did NOT create US !

      The ORIGIN story is bullsh-it...............so is the bible............... nasty !

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life


      Scientists have unearthed the first direct signs of cheesemaking, at a site in Poland that dates back 7,500 years.

      Human Evolution



      Easy to do !

      For all creationists and ID believers...............IT only takes minutes to figure IT out. No fairy in the sky needed !

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      May 6, 2013 — Take a swab of saliva from your mouth and within minutes your DNA could be ready for analysis and genome sequencing with the help of a new device.


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  2. Jesus is the most powerful man to ever walk this earth

    There has been much controversy on life after death, hell, the existence of God, the "right religion", the laws of God, the character of God, Christians, and much more. If you care to learn about the truth on all of this, I simply encourage you to visit this website http://www.theeternalwisdom.com. It is very informative and easy to understand. Hope it helps to clear up this dilemma.

    May 4, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Ho Hum Christians are Dumb

      This is a way better site about Jeebus and the Christian book of fictions: http://evilbible.com

      May 4, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  3. Science

    Free speech helps educate the masses................POLITICIANS too !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN


    Gravity is not up for debate !

    BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !

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    Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

    The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

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    Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young


    And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

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    the wrong path is Adam and Eve !

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    No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

    Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

    No god(s) needed................... Old. DNA works..................also catches crooks !

    Ancient DNA Reveals Europe's Dynamic Genetic History

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    Good stuff !

    The fact...............the earth is to old for this nonsemse ! Time to EVOLVE !

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    For what...................... ? Make sure to read what the pope said !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN


    Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

    Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

    Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
    bears his name as the “God particle.”


    Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
    Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \



    Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
    By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...


    April 7th, 2012

    08:32 PM ET

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    Make sure to read comments

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  4. Santos Varanese

    Washington was born in Mount Vernon, near New York City, New York, on December 28, 1954. His mother, Lennis "Lynne", was a beauty parlor-owner and operator born in Georgia and partly raised in Harlem. His father, Reverend Denzel Hayes Washington, Sr., a native of Buckingham County, Virginia, served as an ordained Pentecostal minister, and also worked for the Water Department and at a local department store, S. Klein...-

    Our web blog

    May 2, 2013 at 6:00 am |
  5. Richard Conn Henry

    I'm sorry, I honestly thought that WAS a photo of President Obama, in a dark mood. Didn't bother me!

    April 28, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  6. Science

    All cults...........creationists, ID believers and devil cults.................

    The fact...............the earth is to old for this nonsemse ! Time to EVOLVE !

    Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle

    Apr. 24, 2013 — Scientists have long believed that lava erupted from certain oceanic volcanoes contains materials from the early Earth's crust. But decisive evidence for this phenomenon has proven elusive. New research from a team including Carnegie's Erik Hauri demonstrates that oceanic volcanic rocks contain samples of recycled crust dating back to the Archean era 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is published in Nature.


    April 25, 2013 at 7:24 am |
  7. Formula40

    Definitely resembles president Obama I think that someone is throughing a stone and tying to hide their hand. Checkout
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Testimony-of-Satan-ebook/dp/B008NRA0XO. It will really bring this topic home

    April 25, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Tesimony of a fictional character from a book of myths and legends.

      April 25, 2013 at 7:22 am |
  8. Cindy

    Mark Burnett made the decision to have the likeness of President Obama portray the devil. No matter what Burnett says, he's guilty because he could have chosen any other vision of the devil. Burnett probably had his friend Donald Trump help him. There were numerous other problems with the film, too. We need a whole new movie on the Bible as it really is told.

    April 21, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
  9. Satan or not

    It astounds me that if you ask several people there will be any number of conclusions on if satan is real or just a symbol..even if they believe in a diety they may or may not believe in satan.

    The definition and image on who or what satan is is also subject to change depending on who you ask. There are even satanists who believe satan exists and satanists who don't.

    I've never seen such diverse imagery regarding a subject.

    April 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  10. Peshwar

    II think satan looks a lot like Obammy!

    April 15, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  11. Cheri

    OMG, really you are calling this beautiful Morrocan actor, SATAN and then comparing the president to SATAN. Satan is a character. Our president's character nor spirit are SATANIC. We should have more concerns about people's preceptions on issues and redirect the energy to understanding an opportunity to hear the MESSAGE from the word of God.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  12. Scarbourough fair

    Are you going to scarborough fair...parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme...remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine

    April 14, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  13. regarding Satan

    I really messed myself up in the head trying to figure out "what" "satan" is. Seriously. You don't know how badly I wanted to see candles flicker, or cupboards go bang.
    I wanted to see shadows creeping up walls...something, some proof that there was an invisible boogeyman lurking in the fourth dimension.

    I tried lighting candles, I tried "praying" to "satan", I tried everything I could think of for one little physics defying stunt.

    Nothing happened. I'm very sad to report that nothing happened but it's all I know so far.

    April 14, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  14. Conspiracy

    I am convinced "satan" is blonde. As in seven foot tall NORDIC alien, blonde. Nobody ever wants to look at alien conspiracy though, but if you look there it is (again) same idea..or close too it.

    April 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  15. Arik Fetscher

    So looking in the face of the "blue devil" and given the choice of abusing those who listened and taking the crown or being himself and true to the faith placed in him he chose to stare down the inner demons and stayed true to himself. I believe that as the parable goes, a jesuit professor from Notre Dame in the NY Times may have some theological thoughts but its worth discussing. But odd with a new Pope and Lousiville the college of Cardinals and Blue Devils that injury thing on national television, blackouts at superbowls and other such nonsense but stay honest true and keep integrity seems kind of important with whatever is going on in ones life. I wish a full recovery but just an odd coincidence obe imagines.

    The parable of salt as well? Is it worth it since the church may actually help solve a situation in the far east with Cardinal Francoise VanTrueng and environmental clean up is it worth taking a chance after Cardinal Dolans statements? I believe Dante would have parabalized it as the trip into an out of the inferno, where Pericles absent faith combined with intelligence was stuck in a that circle.

    April 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  16. MYNAY

    Producer or Director's strategy. Anyone in the entire glove having access to the net, on any device, will at least glance at comparison. More money going into is pocket!

    April 1, 2013 at 10:49 am |
  17. RJP3

    Yes it is non-sense just like the crap History channel is peddling - another ONCE OK cable channel now programming for the lowest common denominator

    April 1, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  18. Equalizer

    Satan doesn't look as scarey as o'bama

    March 31, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  19. Faith

    Two thinks;
    1. Jesus was a Middle Eastern man so why this blonde Jesus?
    2. Personally, I think a better choice for Satan would have been a Timothy McVeigh lookalike.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  20. His panic

    BO is in a total state of Panic, he went to church today because of me. I'm his panic! 😀

    March 31, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
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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.