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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. spockmckoy

    soon as I saw the show last night, I said, "It looks just like Odumbo!!!"

    March 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • leslie - anne

      Was this before or after your star trek convention?

      March 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      No, that's your mama after tanning. she's trying to look black.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  2. Just Call Me "Mister"

    So..."Jesus" - of Nazareth no less - is characterized in 'popular society' as a 'blond haired guy'...
    – But Satan...is Moroccan, and/or of 'darker complexion'... Wow.

    Can "some people" be any more see-through? ('The World' is on to you...!)

    March 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Patrick

      The history channel is so contradictory. I've seen shows on that channel that try to show what Jesus would actually look like. What they came up with was not a white man with blonde hair and blue eyes. It was what any normal rational thinking person would believe. He looked more like Osama bin Laden. Hilarious.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  3. Donovan

    color don't matter, if physical features resemble each other... this was done on purpose..and is RACIST AMERICA.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  4. Buck Rogers

    The Bible says that Satan, aka Apollo (Rev 9:11) will deceive the entire world. Indeed, NASA and the Soviets (and now the ESA and Chinese) are nd always have been faking 'spaceflight' and duping the masses with 'astro-evolution'.....

    http://www.fountainsofthegreatdeep.com/IFS.htm

    March 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • rtr

      He already has it is called the bible

      March 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  5. Scotty D

    To offer such a suggestion in the first place is equally repugnant and disgusting

    March 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  6. more2bits

    Well looks aside, Obama IS the great Satan and WILL destroy this country with his 'Economics for Dummies'.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • rtr

      The greatest lie of the bible, a white blond haired blue eyed man from the middle east, but they knew not many white people would have followed a god that looked like Mohammed, so they changed him.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  7. vidal808

    Now this is the most ridiculous thing I read this morning. Thia tops the list of stupidity but again, some some people have nothing better to do than relate Obama to Satan....what a bunch of morones.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  8. 666

    Looks like Obama to me...what's the big surprise? Haven't you seen all the black she devils on Survivor?

    March 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  9. Norm

    Be careful Conservatives.
    Look what happened to Hugo Chavez when he insulted the Devil by comparing him to George Bush.
    Don't make the same mistake.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  10. 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 3:26 pm |
    • Derrick Osborne

      AMEN!

      March 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  11. Sly

    Maybe our President looks like God?

    Who on here knows that the Devil isn't really God? Maybe President 'Oh you Devil' Obama smoted God's butt long ago, just like he kicked the Republicans butt'z.

    Yep ... 'where is His birth certificate'. Y'all Republicans better watch out, cause the Devil is on OUR side, and y'all is toast!

    March 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  12. Fiona

    I don't see Obama, but I do see someone with the characteristics of a black man. That is a questionable choice.

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

      I can see why conservatives think it looks like Obama.
      To them....all black people look alike.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  13. rtr

    Since Jesus was black they should have let Obama do his part.

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

      President Obama is not black. He is a white man and a black man.

      At least that is the scientific definition ... if anyone on the religion blog is familiar with the term 'science'.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  14. atxvoter

    For those of you that think Satan had a resemblece to Obama, then you my friend need glasses or need to take your your meds. Its nnfortunate that the right wing/conservatives makes the rest of us Christians look narrow minded and plain stupid. We need to behave like followers of Christ. If Obama looks like Satan, then Bush behaved like Satan.

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

      Whoa there.
      Look what happened to Hugo Chavez when he insulted the Devil by comparing him to George Bush.
      Better take that back.

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

      Come on....it looks like Obama.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  15. Let the Bible Heel You!!!!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0-04VDrCbM

    March 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  16. Rachel

    In the bible it clearly states that the anti-christ will be charasmatic, a great speaker and be worshipped by the masses which pretty much sums up Obama.

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

      Actually it was talking about the pope.

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

      Sums up most politicians, not just Obama

      March 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Norm

      That's only because you "want" it to be President Obama.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Pander Bear

      Sounds very much like Bono. Oh, and Richard Branson. And Bob Barker. And my Dad. And about 65 Million other people.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • sunder

      there was just one choice you could come up with Obama!

      March 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • bobby

      Yeah, except that only slightly more than 50% of the "masses" in this country support him, and he's pretty much not liked by anyone outside the U.S. Oh, and that charismatic thing. Personally I find him to be one of the LEAST charismatic presidents we've ever had. Why do people say he's charismatic? What about his personality appeals to anyone? He's not funny, he's not empathetic, inspiring, or anything. He's basically a robot.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Patrick

      Anyone who thinks Obama is the anti-christ is crazy. We all know the anti-christ was Hitler. Or was it Sadam Hussein? Or was it Osama Bin Laden? I know what happened. After they all died their spirits gave birth to Obama. Oh, Obama was already alive when Hussein and Bin Laden died? Well, then he must be reincarnation of Hitler then? Yeah, makes sense to me. Osama Bin Laden is Adolph Hitler. You heard it here first.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • bobby

      Actually, whether the Bible even foretells of a particular future individual is far from clear. It certainly says nothing about any "antichrist" having great speaking abilities or being "charismatic." And to the extent the Bible does describe an "antichrist" in the form of a singular person, it's far from clear what kind of personality he would have. The notion of a charismatic individual antichrist that the whole world loves was basically invented by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins in the "Left Behind" books.

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

      Why doesn't The Babble say something like "The antichrist will be born on Dec 25, 2013 in Bumfuck Missouri and go by the name of Glen Beck Jr." Why all the mystery?

      March 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  17. Wendy

    I think some people have way too much time (and imagination) on their hands. Let's not let distractions get in the way of what The Bible is portraying. You either believe and embrace it or not.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  18. Goose66

    I think Satan could get elected in this Country if he promised to tax the rich and give more handouts to the 47%.

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

      If satan would just write a book telling people how much he loves them, but only if they follow certain rules he'd do fine. Wait he did it is the old testament sorry

      March 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • cb

      Fortunately a video tape surface dof Satan saying he did not like the 47% percent, and he did not get elected.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  19. Josh

    Only a Republican would think that Obama looks anything like actor portraying Satan in this TV show.

    The same Republicans who also proudly proclaim that all blacks look alike.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • jerry5555

      You mean the same Republicans that freed blacks from slavery while Democrats fought to keep slavery?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  20. Robert

    The History Channel, showing things that didn't happen in our history.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:23 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.