Ian Mills the pastor of the Jubilee Church and G.J. Rancourt hold the Christian flag up to the 25 people who gathered outside city hall to listen and sing Friday August 24, 2012.
Credits: MIKE HENSEN/QMI AGENCY
But despite a controversial lead-up to the flag-raising, the event attracted little attention, with only about two dozen people showing up for the ceremony.
The flag was originally OK'd to fly from a pole outside city hall, but on closer review the city clerk decided it wasn't the flag of a local charitable or non-profit organization, as the city's flag-flying policy for community groups dictates, and reversed her conditional approval.
That reversal came after Rancourt came under the public spotlight, for comments he'd made last year suggesting Muslims who practise Sharia law should be given "a one-way ticket" out of Canada.
Undeterred, Rancourt vowed to go ahead with his flag-raising ceremony -- launching Saturday's Prayer Fest and March for Jesus in London -- without the city's blessing.
"It doesn't matter," Rancourt said Friday of the ceremony without the city flag pole. "We're having a flag-raising in a different format. It's not going to fly as high as that but it will fly."
The controversy that dogged Rancourt this week prompted London Christian and Muslim community leaders to write a joint letter affirming commitment to celebrating religious diversity.
"For the past number of years, many bridges have been built between members of all religious backgrounds in our city. In particular, the Christian and Muslim communities have worked together on a number of important initiatives and projects that have strengthened and enriched our entire city," the letter reads.
"We share much in common as believing men and women, and there is much more that brings us together than what drives us apart. We believe that it's the responsibility upon all of us to oppose fear mongering, racism, discrimination and the propagation of a politics of exclusion under the banner of religion wherever it may exist and whichever form it may take."
City hall's flag-flying policy was a lightning rod for criticism, the city council burned by some of the decisions it made, until four years ago when it handed off the job of deciding which flags to fly to the city clerk.