In the 1850s and 60s, there were slaveholders who justified their ways by appealing to their religious beliefs. In the 1950s and 60s, there were segregationists who screamed “religious liberty” when their practices were questioned. Today, it’s the US Conference of Catholic Bishops doing the same with regard to laws and regulations that attempt to protect the rights of women to equal treatment, and anti-gay crusaders who want a religious exemption to continue their anti-gay ways.

In 1983, though, the US Supreme Court ruled in Bob Jones University v US that shouting “religious liberty!” is not a magic incantation that automatically frees the speaker from the laws of society. As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. — no hater of the church — wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Even, or especially, when that injustice is perpetrated in the name of religious liberty.