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. TV not so much

    Shouldn't they both look like nice Jewish boys. If you stop watching crap like this it will go away, TRY.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  2. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    Please explain how Satan can tempt Jesus' (God's) faith?

    March 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  3. Citizen Jones

    You all ask the wrong question, It should be," Does the Devil look like Obama?".
    I think the Devil would be jealous of POTUS's achievements. Not even Satan could have done so much damage in so short a time and still maintained such a drone of followers.
    Hail to the big Chief.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • sam


      March 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Insane Conservatives

      I suppose Dubya and Cheney did no damage to the USA... Cheney is true evil and he does not look like Obama.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      What is this damage you speak of, Jones?

      March 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Goose66

      I'd rather be an insane conservative than an inane liberal (yeah you read it right).

      March 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  4. Will S

    Personally, I think he looks more like Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni than Obama.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  5. TheTruth

    5I am black, but comely, O you daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. 6Look not on me, because I am black, because the sun has looked on me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept.

    Song of Solomon 1:5


    His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven

    Description of "Jesus"

    15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

    Fine brass if burned is not white.

    WAKE UP!

    March 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  6. LB Colorado

    Maybe utter nonsense, but if the shoe fits.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Lee

      The pope's red slippers fit him well...

      March 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  7. ug

    By no means at all! Ovomit is satan!

    March 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  8. Bob

    Much of the bible, especially the parts about the existence of Christian god, and about the divinity of Jesus, is utter nonsense.

    Break the chains. Join the movement.
    Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • LB Colorado

      Good luck with that.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • DaveNYUSA

      Yeah, so let's all follow some internet dork called Bob!

      March 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Lee

      Vote Bob for god! Any schmoe off the street would be better than the mean ole Christian one that threatens eternal torture and Bob can't be that bad.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • von

      I doubt this guy's eyebrows are shaped the same as the President's. This is so obvious, but it worked. But really, if the Devil wa s a race, he would no doubt be Arab or White. Black people are only mad at a 1-2 people at a time.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  9. jerome

    You got it backwards. It's Obama that looks like Satan.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  10. DocHollywood

    I don't know if they intended this character to look like the president or not, but I'm sure they didn't miss the resemblance.. This actor, according to IMDB has never, until this play, played Satan. And in fact, you can't find his picture on IMDB. And of course, while portraying Jesus as white, the devil is portrayed as black. Really quite interesting.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  11. Nipper

    Of course they made Satan look like Obama... Completely intended, absolute... I sometimes feel convinced Jesus fanatics are the evil. They perpetrate lies endlessly. So sad.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  12. Marcia

    Unfortunately I believe this was intentional- feeding into the right wing that Obama is the other and NOT fit to be POTUS and that it is perfectly fine to disrespect him to the fullest-this is what the right wing beleives and I often see Obama refered to as Satan. It gives the crazies the idea that he should not be respected or that he is not a legitimate President -IT did NOT have to be done like this

    March 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Goose66

      Sounds like you are among the "crazies" if you believe this was intentional. I suppose Bush/Cheney brought down the twin towers, too.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  13. Terence Gaffney

    Yes, definitely looks like Obama!

    March 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  14. conrad

    Obama is not the Devil
    how I know?
    because I am the Devil

    and yes the Devil as his Facebook account

    March 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  15. Jim

    Is Satan a black man in the TV show? Because I heard there's a risk that all black men look alike, so the producers must be racist.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  16. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ.

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill were not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of Lutheran CMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as it goes.

    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • DaveNYUSA

      Wow, talk about someone in desperate need of a LIFE!

      March 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  17. biggerthanu

    1. Republicans have more minorities in power positions than Democrats.
    2. Obama may be as deviant at the devil, but he's certainly not fooling anyone but the stupids who love him.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • sam

      Whatever makes you feel better, tough guy.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • .

      And you are one of the biggest deviants of all if you believe that. Get a clue.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  18. Loman

    Why is it that Satan looks black and Jesus looks Caucasians. Why is it that this guy looks like Obama? Are these subconscious messages to reinforce prejudices and racism? Shame on History channel for perpetuating hatred, prejudice and ignorance.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Goose66

      The only racism here is that found by folks always looking for racism. It's not real, mind you, but those folks will always find it, nonetheless. Getting very tired of it, frankly.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  19. TheTruth

    The people of the Bible were Black and not White. The Messiah's name was not Jesus Christ, but Yahshua. Please do your research people, Hollywood lies all the time. There were also tidbits in the scriptures telling what the Egyptians/Isarelites looked like which describes Black skin and black bushy hair. These are traits of Africans. Please please open your minds people and search for the truth. The temperature back then was extremely hot in Africa, no one without melanin would have been able to withstand it.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • sam

      I call him Josh when we have tea on Tuesdays together.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  20. Challenger2060

    Is this really all Americans have time for these days?

    March 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • meifumado

      You really want the answer?

      March 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Martha in CF

      I agree. How lame....it is an actor portraying the devil-–jeeeeeze..........

      March 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Goose66

      Evidently not just Americans.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:18 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.