Faith healing believing parents sentenced for death of their children

About a year ago, I wrote about the awful case of Herbert and Catherine Schaible, members of a Pentecostal church that believes in faith healing, who were charged with the death of their 8-month old child whose life could have been saved if they had sought medical treatment.

What was shocking was that in 2011 they had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of yet another child, a 2-year-old, from pneumonia that had again not been treated. For that they received a 10-year probation sentence and were ordered to seek medical treatment if another child got sick. Clearly they did not do that. They have seven other surviving children.

Yesterday a judge sentenced them to prison for 3½ to seven years. The judge emphatically rejected the idea that the children died because it was ‘their time’, the same reasoning given by believers to explain Jamie Coots’s death.

Judge Benjamin Lerner rejected defense claims that their religious beliefs “clashed” with the 2011 court order to get annual checkups and call a doctor if a child became ill. The order came after a jury convicted them of involuntary manslaughter in Kent’s death, and they were sentenced to 10 years of probation.

“April of 2013 wasn’t Brandon’s time to die,” Lerner said, noting the violence committed throughout human history in the name of religion. “You’ve killed two of your children. … Not God. Not your church. Not religious devotion. You.”

Apparently about a dozen children a year die because of beliefs that prayer will heal them. It is senseless and tragic.


  1. colnago80 says

    As Christopher Hitchens said, religion poisons everything. The sentences were much too lenient, they could have been sent to the slammer for up to 20 years.

  2. dianne says

    What court thought it was a good idea to allow this couple to retain custody of their surviving children in 2011?

  3. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Apparently it’s their time to go to jail.

    The judge seems confused about their time to be in jail, though.

    The jury from the last round deserves some blame, though.

  4. raven says

    Apparently about a dozen children a year die because of beliefs that prayer will heal them.

    Not even close.

    1. No one knows how many children are killed in fundie xian human child sacrifice rituals. They try to hide it any way they can and have many ways. Sometimes they will wait till the kid is dead or almost dead and then rush it to the hospital. “We didn’t know little Suzy was so sick”. She just coughed and gasped for breath for a few weeks.

    2. It’s estimated that the number is about 100 children a year in the USA.

    3. I’ve found families where two kids have died. And one that has lost 5 members, two adults and three children.

    4. The child mortality rate to age 18 in these cults is estimated to be 25%, worse than much of the third world and about what you expect before modern medicine was invented.

  5. raven says

    They have seven other surviving children.

    Well at least they have plenty of spares. At the rate they were going, they were going to need them.

    the children died because it was ‘their time’,

    This is xian fatalism. The belief that we have no control over our destiny. Obviously we do have some options, like seeing doctors.

    Fatalism works both ways. God is in charge and everything happens for a reason. These parents have to go to jail for the well being of their 7 children. See, it all works out in the end.

  6. Donnie says

    I say sentence the parents to jail until the youngest of their children is 18 years old, and the age of reason, out of the house, and in a job or advanced schooling, or trade school and out of the parents reach -- unless the child(ren) elects to reunite with the child-killers.

  7. doublereed says

    The article says six of the surviving children are now in foster care. What about the seventh?

  8. Heidi Nemeth says

    There are a couple of abandoned hulks of old Christian Science Churches in my Lakewood neighborhood. The trend is clearly away from such faith healing religions. If basic health care were universal, free, easily accessible, trusted, and socially approved in this country, I believe adherents to faith healing religions would vanish.

  9. raven says

    From the article:

    Their pastor, Nelson Clark, has said the Schaibles lost their sons because of a “spiritual lack” in their lives …

    I and all my friends are atheists, Pagans, Apathetics, and Deists. Can’t get much more xian “spiritual lacking” than that.

    None of us have lost children to preventable causes.

    It’s been clear for a long time. God hates fundie xians. He is always sending hurricanes and tornadoes to their south central USA heartland.

  10. says

    In other news about violence against children, some Kansas politicians are trying to pass a bill that would legalize the beating and abuse of children -- sorry, the correct term is “spanking” -- to the point where bruising happens. Both parents or teachers could perpetrated such legalized violence with impunity. Incredibly, “corporal punishment” is actually legal in Kansas right now, but this bill will allow greater use of violence without consequences.

    Does this mean employers can spank and bruise employees who make mistakes on the job? Can people hit spouses or other adult family members for not obeying?

    Or is violence only legal when hitting those who can’t defend themselves, too young to know their rights?

  11. jamessweet says

    I dunno if I agree with the judge that it “wasn’t religious devotion”… I mean, yeah, it kinda was. Just sayin’…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *