G.J. Rancourt, organizer of Prayerfest and The March For Jesus, holds an International Christian flag.
Credits: CRAIG GLOVER/QMI AGENCY
About 500 supporters of organizer G.J. Rancourt began the march from King and Dundas streets to Victoria Park, many in "Jesus is Lord" T-shirts and carrying flags.
Rancourt, in the lead-up to the event had become a lightning rod for controversy, wanting to fly a Christian flag from a city hall pole but utlimately denied.
At the march, he stood on the back of a pickup truck and urged the crowd to forget the "welcomed" controversy and think only of Jesus.
"It's all about Jesus, there's no question about that," he said.
One marcher held the international Christian flag, the banner nixed by city hall in the controversy fueled by Rancourt's past remarks that Muslims who practise Sharia law should leave the country.
Soon after Rancourt began speaking from the park bandshell, about 10 protesters from the Occupy movement began jeering him as others joined in.
"It was people who don't have respect for others who want to pursue their agenda and that's all they want," Rancourt said later. "They don't want to have their own meeting. They want to go to others' meetings and be disruptive."
At one point, two women began kissing each other, despite Rancourt's strong objections.
"They were making out in the audience and it's not for me to judge other people, it's not for me at all. And I don't judge them. Hey, like most people, I enjoy sex, too, but I do it at home. You don't have to do it at a public meeting for the only reason to disrupt the meeting."
He said he'd given protesters too much slack last year, a mistake he vowed wouldn't be repeated.
"Last year, I went the other way too much. More free speech. And this year, I said no. We were at the sex parade . . . let's call it what it really is. What do you imagine when you say pride? You're proud of something. What we call it (the London Pride Festival parade) is the sex parade.
Eric Shepperd was among the protesters this year. A veteran activist, he's previously taken part in Occupy London.
Shepperd said the offensive language Rancourt was using centred around London's Pride Festival.
"He was talking about Pride Fest, but what he actually called it was the sex festival or the sex parade or something like that."
Several protesters were from the LGBT community, Shepperd said.
"The thing that I found actually really funny was that he was standing behind a sign that said, "warning, we support free speech not political correctness" . . . when we were practising our free speech, he was telling us that he would have us removed and to be silent."
According to Rancourt, that's exactly what happened when he asked police to remove the protesters.
He said most left on their own when it appeared police would get involved.
London Catholic Bishop Ronald Fabbro, clad in a red T-shirt himself, gave the opening blessing before the march.
-- With files from Gillian Wheatley