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. Joe


    March 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Lee


      March 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • You


      March 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • God


      March 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Camelspyder


      March 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  2. April

    Nope, this was made up by Burnett the producer to get press. It's working. The series is pretty good, violent , but people are and were violent. I don't see president Obama here any more than I saw pres Bush on a pike. Hysterical political banshees.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  3. Hank

    So? Maybe Obama is Satan. Even if he is, we have nothing to fear because he's proven he cannot accomplish anything.

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

      Hank, he did get himself elected as POTUS. More than you can say fer yerself...

      March 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

      Incorrect, Lee. Anyone would have beaten romney.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Douglas

      No, Lee is correct. Obama did get himself elected, or maybe you didn't understand what POTUS means.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  4. The Fox

    H L Menken (b. 1880) once said ""No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

    This whole discussion pretty proves it.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  5. Elisabeth

    Oh, that's just great....the freakin ignorant teabaggers will eat this up....just what they need is another stupid reason to yell conspiracy, etc...If the Anti-Christ lives in DC, one look no further than Paul Ryan.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  6. Dominican Mama 4 Obama

    Obama not the devil, hes good! He gave me a free obamaphone, healthcare for all my 12 kids, and EBT card I can use to buy lotto, cash for my clunker and I never have to work at all! He's the SHIZZLE my NIZZLE! Now I'm off to watch Judge Joe Brown on my new big screen TV. HOLLA!

    March 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Camelspyder

      And you are no better than our lower class citizens. We have low class citizens of all types, including you. Holler!

      March 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  7. JonfromLI

    I didn't even know Satan was black. Shows how much I paid attention in Hebrew School.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  8. The real Tom

    I think Chad may have outed himself as Paul on another thread.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • clarity

      Paul did sound very Chardonian.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Yep. I'm thinking that maybe Chad posts as Paul because he wants to avoid posting to me, as he's declared several times that he won't respond to my posts as I'm too "crude" for him.

      What a yellow-belly.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  9. Recliner

    I was created by God. Not evolved by accident.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You can believe that if you want. I prefer facts.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Damocles

      So were you born fully formed and from a virgin or did you just suddenly find yourself walking around one day with no idea how you got here?

      March 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • clarity

      Just because some do not believe in the Abrahamic God, does not mean that they necessarily believe creation was an accident.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Bob spelled backwards

      Funny how you look exactly like a primate and share 98.4% of your DNA with chimpanzees.

      I guess your God is a chimpanzee for making you in his own primate image.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Lee

      Recliner, with a face and brain like yours, you have to be an accident.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Recliner

      ......>>>Just because some do not believe in the Abrahamic God, does not mean that they necessarily believe creation was an accident.

      I know, I agree.

      .....>>>>> I guess your God is a chimpanzee for making you in his own primate image.

      I know.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Recliner


      >>>>--Recliner, with a face and brain like yours, you have to be an accident.

      What's wrong? You feel so bad you have to insult me to feel better?

      March 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      And your proof?

      March 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Recliner


      I've got my proof – I'll let you find your own. That is between you and God.

      Good luck on your search!

      March 18, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, you don't. You believe and have faith. You don't have proof.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Recliner

      You won't like it – it is spiritual – not materialistic. (You can't buy or earn it)

      March 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, thanks. I prefer to acknowledge that we don't know everything about the universe yet rather than pretend that I have an answer.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Recliner

      I just know that there is a God – and I'm not it.

      You are the one here asking about God – God must be working on your heart. Good luck.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      So Recliner, basically you have nothing to substantiate your belief and yet you want to evangelize. Not very convincing.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Recliner

      I know, all I've got is a couple of atheists following me around asking questions.

      (shrugs) It's a start. Amen.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I'm not here asking about god, I'm here to understand why you cling to ancient superstitions. So far you have provided no reason.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  10. David

    Maybe the History Channel should be reprimanded for being so irresponsible. 😉

    March 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Bob spelled backwards

      Only fools believe that documentaries are thorough and unbiased. Then again, some people still think that if it's written down, it's true.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  11. Thoth

    'the bible' originates from (at the time) one of the most ignorant regions on the planet. The historical Jesus was nothing more than a middle-eastern man, and not the 'Fabio' that white american christians want him to be. It's pathetic that these film-makers still cultivate the notion of good and evil in white and black. The only reason christianity gained traction is because Roman elite saw how it was embraced by the ignorant masses, and used it as a tool of control. Still to this day it is used for control, power, and financial gain on the backs of desparate 'souls'.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • April

      You mean the cradle of civilization ? Oh wait, you evolved from a chimp.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Thoth

      @April – modern ToE makes no such claims. Perhaps instead of repeating inaccurate as.sertions made from ignorance and fear, you might be better served actually reading about modern theory in non-religious material.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  12. Robert

    Can't we just commend them on their astute casting and move along?

    March 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Bob spelled backwards

      You're late for your TeaKlan meeting.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  13. davsop2

    Perhaps the resemblance is the other way around.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  14. Obozo

    They should have a coward that looks like a black clown, handing out free stuff like phones, EBT cards, booze, but for sure not condoms to all the black people who dont work, at the expense of the people that DO work. That would be dead on for Obama.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • April

      Romans 15:1.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  15. bigducksfan

    Only if you think all dark skinned people look alike.......

    March 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  16. johnnymustard

    He may look like Obummer but he sure as h#ll looks like my landlord !

    March 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  17. EDDIE

    The republiccans already knew this.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  18. Loman

    America has become the land of morons. Just look at what is on TV. There is nothing educational or real on TV. Crap on top of crap, prejudice, racism, and loud mouth ignoramus like O'relilly, Glen Becks, etc who are millionaires on the back of white poor people.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  19. Justin

    Bingo! They nailed it!. All we need next to that photo is a caption or two like: "I have no problem with late term or full term abortions". Or: "I have come to believe that marriage can be between a man and ahhh another man. Yea, sure, why not?"

    March 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  20. Barb

    Odd, Roma Downey: most Christians I know wouldn't sign on for Infanticide. 4 times.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:11 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.