Schaibles sent to prison for up to seven years for faith healing murder

Two children dead from investment in belief instead of knowledge. Parents will go to prison.

Faith-healing couple sent to prison for death of second son.

Saying that it was they who killed their son and not God or religious devotion, a judge Wednesday sentenced a Philadelphia couple to three and a half to seven years in state prison for praying for their pneumonia-stricken baby instead following a court order to take him to a doctor.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible, of the [Philadelphia], each apologized for the April death of 7-month-old Brandon and said despite their religious beliefs in prayer over medicine, they would take their seven surviving children to doctors in the future.

Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner also sentenced the couple to 30 months of supervised probation after they are released from prison.

They were both lifelong members of the faith-healing First Century Gospel Church. They had pleaded “no contest” in November to third-degree murder, child endangerment and conspiracy in their child’s death. At the time, they were on probation for the death of another child, Kent, who also died due to withholding of proper medical care in lieu of prayer. They were charged with involuntary manslaughter. This current charge was more serious.

Many religious and non-religious people alike, especially parents, find their crime despicable and incomprehensible, even the District Attorney who asked for 8-16 years instead. Will it deter other congregants of such churches from pulling the same thing? Yes, it may just do that. An example must be set so that the churches and their members understand that your freedom of religion does not trump the human rights of a child. This must stop.


Schaible’s faith healing congregation has had at least 22 child deaths

Faith-based Schaibles plead “no contest” in death of child

Addition: 16-Mar-2014 Judge rejects call to increase prison sentences of faith-healing parents.

  8 comments for “Schaibles sent to prison for up to seven years for faith healing murder

  1. Jack
    February 20, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    People always wonder what it would be like to go back in time. Well, this what it was like. High infant mortality, because praying doesn’t work, medicine does. Not always, but mostly. I heard a standup comic state the one word that keeps him from inventing a time machine that goes into the past. Dentistry. Learning from our past mistakes and building on the knowledge of our previous scientists is what allows us to survive. Nuff said.

  2. February 20, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Perhaps in time a more sensible, humane (and cheaper) way will be found for dealing with unhappy people like these. Years in jail is rather pointless and I doubt if that acts as a deterrent to others. Surely the option of satisfactorily completing an educational course (as an alternative option to incarceration) would be helpful to both the state as well as those involved.

  3. Cathy
    February 20, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    @Michael – If losing their child through prayer and having the court impose medicine upon them doesn’t teach them anything why would an educational course teach them to use medical practitioners? Who would run this course anyway? Would it be set up just for them?

  4. February 21, 2014 at 3:57 AM

    @Cathy – When, and if, we evolve a little further, jail will only be for people who are too dangerous to be living at large in society. There inmates would be treated medically (I would guess gene therapy). Prison for ‘punishment’ will by then have become an historical concept. We could start in that direction with people like these, who have ‘barking’ religious convictions (through their upbringing – so most of us should agree – by no fault of their own). Prison cannot be the answer for them. I agree that specially tailored education would cost money, but it should be cheaper than incarceration. I also agree that it may not work at the start, but we could persevere and get that right.

  5. One Eyed Jack
    February 21, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    Evolution does not have a direction. The simplest microbe is just as evolved as any of us.

  6. February 21, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Yes OEJ I agree with you, although I was talking about Social Evolution rather than the Biological sort. Certainly, in the ‘western’ world, social change does appear to be moving in the direction I suggest. Of course, many factors could cause us to become less civilised rather than more so. I see today that there are still far more than twice as many people being born than dying, so we are a long way from reaching the top of that curve. This must still be a more important statistic than those measuring any climate change.

  7. Alessandra Martellacci
    March 16, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    I would argue that these people are too dangerous to be living at large, in society. They have killed two people through negligence and a shared mass delusion. I don’t want them running around. Their congregation has killed more than 20 children with this dangerous nonsense. Why are you being so kind about it?

  8. March 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    They are clearly not a danger to anyone else, only themselves and their children. I can see the sense in not imprisoning them for a long stretch. That’s diminishing returns and it’s expensive for the state. The problem is their antiquated belief. That will not be changed by going to prison; it needs to be a cultural change.

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