As the ReAwaken America Tour's stop at Cornerstone Church in Batavia wore on during its second day on Saturday, members of the Democratic Socialists of America gathered in Austin Park for a "teach-in" about fascism.
There were about 40 people at the gathering.
The Batavian was present for a talk by Rev. Jennifer Butler, author of the book "Who Stole My Bible?"
Butler said what drew her to Jesus Christ was his radical message for his times, resisting the Roman government and the Pharisees.
"Who stole my Bible? Christian nationalists stole it," Butler said. "What do we need to do to reclaim Scripture as a handbook for resisting tyranny? Scripture, when you read it the right way, is actually a radical book."
Starting with Constantine, Butler said, people with a lust for power and the power of the state have been distorting the message of Christ to their own ends.
"Ever since then, there's been this tendency, as there is throughout history with all religions, and in all contexts to co-opt religion in order to control people," she said. "It started with Constantine. We saw it during the Crusades. We saw it under Hitler."
She said today there is a global movement with impetus from Putin's Russia to use religion to promote authoritarianism.
"These global oligarchs and global authoritarians are weaponizing religion and relating to each other globally to enrich themselves and to strengthen their own power," Butler said. "They're kind of like global crime syndicates that are also abusing and using religion to control people."
The strategy employed by authoritarians is to divide and conquer, Butler said. They manipulate people's emotions.
"I think first and foremost, in the people who are getting drawn in, it's fear. Fear gets weaponized. That's why actually, Scripture -- sorry to quote Scripture so much, because I know Christianity really pisses people off -- but the Bible says over and over again, perfect love casts out fear."