Chick-fil-A — the Christian-owned fast food chain — took another step away from its controversial associations with religious and anti-LGBT values this month.

And Jim Gearhart says he seeing the chain "throwing in the town was rather disappointing."

"The reason for that, the alphabet (LGBT) group, these intimidators, have successfully intimidated them into not giving money to a group that the group didn't approve of," Jim says this week's episode of his weekly Facebook Live show and podcast.

Chick-fil-A announced what it called a "more focused giving approach" for its millions of dollars in charitable donations -- one that no longer includes two religious groups with anti-gay marriage stances and other policies critics say are anti-LGBT. A representative for the company specifically said that its years-long commitments to Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army were completed in 2018, as reported by Business Insider.

It happened to make the announcement right around the time it was opening new locations in New Jersey.  A restaurant on Route 73 in Berlin Township has slated an opening date of Thursday, Nov. 21, while another Chick-fil-A is opening in Wayne, on the outskirts of Willowbrook Mall, tentative for Dec. 5.  New Jersey’s most northern Chick-fil-A in Ramsey currently is hiring, as its website said it joins “the Chick-fil-A family of Bergen County: Paramus Park Mall Chick-fil-A, Garden State Plaza Chick-fil-A, and Teterboro Chick-fil-A.” Chick-fil-A recently received approval to build a stand-alone restaurant in Edison along Route One, as reported by Bridgewater Courier News. That’s in addition to a location within the food court at Menlo Park Mall.

The Fellowship promotes a "sexual purity statement" for its student leaders that says its "neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God." The Salvation Army stresses on its website that it provides services to LGBT people -- including those facing hardship because of discrimination -- and says it does not discriminate in its hiring practices. However, it its public statements it has said those who practice homosexual acts would be excluded from full membership or "soldiership."

Chick-fil-A also will donate $25,000 to a "local food bank" at each new restaurant opening, according to the company.

Bob Williams, Jim's partner in the podcast, said he was particularly suprised to see the opposition to the Salvation Army — "that's a pretty well-respected group."

"I have absolutely no difficulty with the (LGBT) people, their behavior, what they want to do, rights they have gained — God bless you, more power to you," Jim said. "But there comes a time when you're using it for purposes of intimidation, simply out of a motivation for revenge, in my view."

And Jim asks: Could that amount to illegal religious intimidation?

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That's just part of what Jim and Bob Williams take on in the latest installment of his show, also available as a podcast. Check out the full episode to hear the rest.

Love Podcasts? This week, on Speaking Podcast: Hanging with SNL legend Kevin Nealon.

— New Jersey 101.5 staff. Includes prior reporting by Erin Vogt.

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