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The Bible TV miniseries, created and produced by husband and wife duo Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, was a 2013 sensation, raking in more than 100 million views. It was nominated for three Emmy awards, and a sequel title, A.D.: Beyond the Bible, has been planned for NBC.

But amid the hype came controversy. The same episode that debuted Jesus also included scenes with the devil. Downey was immediately disappointed to find the media fixated on the devil rather than Jesus: some were claiming that the actor who played Satan looked like President Obama.

In order to avoid further controversy, the producers decided to remove Satan from the Son of God movie rereleasing this Friday. "I want the name of Jesus to be on the lips of everyone who sees this movie, so I cast Satan out," said Downey.

Although perhaps not the movie's target audience, the large number of viewers who are agnostic about or deny the devil's existence could simplify the decision to omit him. Recent polls suggest a large number of Americans don't believe the devil exists. A 2009 Barna survey reported that nearly 60 percent of Christians in America view the devil as only a symbol of evil. Only one quarter of participants strongly affirmed the devil's personal existence, though this figure more than doubles among "born again" Christians.

What muddies the poll, however, is the inconsistency of responses. Nearly half of those who treated Satan as a symbol believed that demons could influence people. Furthermore, a strong majority affirmed that one "must either side with God or with the devil." And only 11 percent strongly disagreed. Such results suggest that even those who believe the devil is a symbol of evil are ...

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February 2014

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