I took the cross photo in 2012 in my then hometown of Middleboro, MA (see full photo here) where there was a controversy over it being on state owned land.
AN EPIDEMIC is a disease that affects a large number of people within a community, population, or region. A PANDEMIC is an epidemic that's spread over multiple countries or continents.
I was prompted to write this after reading the RawStory summary of this paywalled Daily Beast article.
Conservative commentator Matt Lewis writes that:
“some prominent members of the Christian church are undermining the church’s witness,” Lewis added, “For evidence, look no further than this Saturday, when former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn (who recently shared a message calling on Trump to declare ‘limited martial law’ and hold a new election) will give his first post-pardon speech at something called the Jericho March in Washington, D.C. Aside from Flynn, the roster includes other prominent MAGA names like Mike Lindell (the MyPillow guy), Eric Metaxas (a radio host who punched a protester and recently said, ‘I’d be happy to die in this fight’), Ali Alexander (formerly Ali Akbar), and C.J. Pearson. Afterwards, the crowd will converge on the National Mall for the ‘ROAR’ prayer rally.”
He concludes that Saturday’s march is part of a
“… disturbing trend” that has damaged the reputation of Christians during the Trump years which is turning off possible converts to the religion — particularly among the young.
“If a young person rejects conservatism because Trump has tainted what was once a serious and legitimate worldview, that’s a shame, and it could have serious ramifications for our nation. But if a young person chooses to reject Christianity because its association with Trump has made it seem ridiculous—well, the stakes (if you believe as Christians do) are eternal.”
Consider the following:
The Three Christs of Ypsilanti (1964) is a book-length psychiatric case study by Milton Rokeach, a now diseased Michigan State University psychology professor, concerning his experiment on a group of three paranoid schizophrenics at Ypsilanti State Hospital in Michigan. The book details the interactions of the three patients each of whom believed himself to be Jesus Christ. (Wikipedia)
Clearly, if someone believes they are Jesus Christ they are suffering from a psychosis. What about those who believe that Donald Trump is the Second Coming of Christ? There are many evangelicals who believe he is, and is here to usher in the Apocalypse.
From the Amazon description:
On August 21 2019, in a live press conference, a journalist asked President Donald John Trump, "Are you the second coming of God?" While President Trump ignored this repeated question, he had just teasingly stated, "I am the chosen one." This seems to have resulted from President Trump quoting radio host Wayne Allyn Root as having referred to Trump as "The King of the Jews" and the "King of Israel." Donald J. Trump is likely the most divisive president to hold the highest office in the land and perhaps that can be attributed to the great probability that He fulfills the prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ. Most will be shocked at the concept, and many will wonder if Trump might not be the expected Antichrist, but anyone with an open mind that studies the scriptures and history will discover that Trump fulfills the prophesied return of the "Son of Man" which seems more than wishful thinking. After a quick reading of the brief analysis presented in "Donald J. Trump: The Second Coming of Christ," one can easily begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together and find countless other support to come to this same outlandish conclusion.
“A Delusional disorder, previously called paranoid disorder, is a type of serious mental illness — called a ‘psychosis’— in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. The main feature of this disorder is the presence of delusions, which are unshakable beliefs in something untrue.” (Various sources)
As a retired psychotherapist familiar with the various kinds of severe mental illness I find it difficult to believe that all, or even a large percentage, of evangelicals and others who say they believe Trump is the Second Coming hold this as an unshakable psychotic belief and would or could be diagnosed as having a psychotic delusional disorder. My impression is that most of them say it metaphorically.
I agree with Psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee who has written numerous articles about Trump’s psychopathology. She wrote how Trump has “infected his followers with a kind of mass psychosis which isn't really a psychosis. This is from Salon in July:
The transmission of mental symptoms has been given different names: induced delusional disorder, shared psychosis, folie à deux, trois, quatre,…, or millions—depending on the number affected—or mass hysteria when affecting a whole population. All describe the same phenomenon, but none are satisfactory. The latest, induced delusional disorder, focuses on the most commonly transmitted symptom, delusions, but does not cover other possible symptoms, such as mood. Shared psychosis captures the syndrome-like severity, but is a misnomer because it often does not involve actual psychosis. Folie à deux, or "madness in two," is perhaps the most preferred but a foreign phrase. Finally, "mass hysteria" describes well the frenzied quality that arises from the sharing of symptoms among crowds, but often does not actually involve symptoms of "hysteria", or histrionics. The important feature is that mental symptoms are not confined to the person; they take hold and spread across interpersonal boundaries, just as they initially take over one portion, and then eventually the whole of the mind of an individual.
Regardless of the precise diagnosis or how experts define the psychiatric impairment of such people, I don’t think it is hyperbole to say that Trump has caused what can be labeled (due to the large numbers who have been “infected” or succumbed to it) as an evangelical epidemic of delusional-like thinking in the United States.