“Suffer the little children to come unto me,” said Jesus. But apparently, the little children are no longer welcome in the United States.

All Americans, and particularly people of faith, must raise their voices to condemn the demonization of immigrant families as criminals.

Many are fleeing violence and lawfully seeking refugee status. America is often proclaimed to be a Christian nation. Yet those who reject the fundamental teaching of Jesus to give water to the thirsty, feed the hungry, and give shelter to the stranger cannot claim the name of Christ.

A growing number of religious leaders are speaking out about the cruelty being inflicted on children of refugees by the new “zero tolerance” policy of the Department of Justice. Others have spoken out about the abuse of scripture to justify such cruelty.

In the past, Romans 13 has been used to support the fugitive slave law and to obtain the compliance of the Church in Europe during World War II. God has ordained our leaders and government, the flawed logic holds, and our duty is to obey.

The same biblical passage that has been abused to justify this policy declares, “Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

The proper function of law is to preserve the welfare of society and the rights of its people. To use the law as a means of oppression, as the Department of Justice is doing, is to degrade respect for the law itself and to undermine the foundations of our democracy.

America is a nation of immigrants.

The United States has championed democracy, human rights, and civil and religious freedom around the world. But in this matter we are champions no more.

A policy that seeks to accomplish a political goal by tearing apart families is a stain on our national character.

Our role as believers and as citizens is to hold our nation’s leadership accountable to a high moral and ethical standard in the interpretation of our laws.

Our thoughts and prayers must turn into actions and deeds. All those who cherish America’s values must demand action from Congress to end this policy. We ask you to write or call your congressional representatives, use your voice on social media, and use your rights as a citizen to challenge and change the policies that inhumanely, carelessly, and needlessly take children away from their parents.