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Pennsylvania Parents Choice To Turn To Faith Healing A Second Time Results In A Charge Of Murder

Updated on August 22, 2013

Family Loses Two Children Due To Superstitious Negligence

This kind of situation just breaks my heart. It is just a crying shame that people who hold these foolish ideas seem to be the ones adding the most to the population. Eight-month-old Brandon Schaible is the second of Herbert and Catherine Schaible’s children to die of pneumonia due to lack of medical attention. The parents face a charge of third-degree murder.

In 2009 the Schaibles were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of their two year old son, Kent, who also died of pneumonia after a week-long illness. In that case, they received a 10 year probation. One of the requirements of that probation was that they must take all of their children to a doctor for annual check-ups and that they must seek medical assistance whenever any of their children became ill or was injured. Nonetheless, the Schaibles told police that when eight-month-old Brandon began displaying cold and flu symptoms in April of 2013, they prayed over him for three days. He subsequently died of pneumonia.

Faith And Medical Care Are Not Interchangeable!

Faith is a wonderful thing, but it does not take the place of vaccinations and antibiotics!
Faith is a wonderful thing, but it does not take the place of vaccinations and antibiotics! | Source

Common Sense Guides To Good Medical Care For Children

Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide: How to Make Safe,  Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives
Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide: How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives

This is a balanced and sensible guide to choosing and obtaining the necessary vaccinations for your child and maintaining your child's good health.


Repeated Endangerment Resulted In Third-Degree Murder Charge

The Schaibles lawyer, Bobby Hoof, attempted to make a case based upon the idea that most parents would wait three days before taking a child with cold and flu symptoms to the doctor. He said that, for this reason, the Schaibles should be charged with involuntary manslaughter, rather than third-degree, murder; however, Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner did not agree with this assessment. The Schaibles will stand trial for third-degree murder.

Judge Lerner pointed out that the Schaibles had already learned this lesson the hard way once. He was quite troubled by the fact that the Schaibles reported that Brandon's breathing became more and more labored during his illness, yet the parents still did not seek medical assistance per their parole agreement. He said that this situation was no different from a parent who knows his or her child has a potentially deadly allergy to peanut butter yet continues to give the child peanut butter.

Judge Lerner explained that he felt that the repetition of this potentially deadly situation implied malice and that it should not be allowed to happen multiple times before being met with a third-degree murder charge. He wondered how many times a jury should reasonably be expected to see this same situation and not infer malice.

Murder, Negligence, or Right to Choose?

Should the Schaibles face third-degree murder charges?

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Regardless Of Parole Conditions, The Schaibles Persisted In Superstitious Actions

Although the Schaibles had honored their parole in that Brandon had been found healthy at his newborn checkup, they admitted that they had not sought care for him when he became ill. In fact, police reports indicate that Herbert Schaible told investigating homicide detectives about his faith in divine healing and explained that Jesus had died on the cross in order to break the power of the devil.

The Schaibles are members of the First Generation Gospel Church located in the northeastern part of Philadelphia. They were also teachers at the church at one time. This is a small and very insular congregation that believes in the power of faith healing. In fact, Pastor Nelson Clark claims that the Schaibles lost their two children to illness due to their spiritual lack. He said that officials were at fault for attempting to force members of his church to use a flawed medical system.

Faith Healing Deaths Are Rampant In The US

Faith Healing Results In Needless Deaths Every Year

The beliefs of the pastor and congregation aside, the fact is approximately a dozen children die in the United States annually because of the withholding of medical attention in favor of faith healing. Experts agree that the vast majority of cases are very treatable illnesses and that the deaths are avoidable. For this reason, the state of Oregon has banned the use of faith healing as a defense in cases that involve a series of deaths.

At this time, Herbert Schaible, 45, is still in custody. Catherine Schaible, 44, has been released on bail. They have seven remaining children who have been placed in foster care. The case will return to court in the coming month. The trial is probably a year in the offing. If the Schaibles are convicted of third-degree murder, they could serve a 20-40 year prison term.



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    • SallyTX profile image

      Sally Branche 4 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Absolutely, JTrader! As Frank Loesser said, Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!

      It never hurts to pray, but folks also need to have the gumption to be practical and call on earthly help as well!

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 4 years ago

      I believe that people can be healed by God without the use of medications or even herbal extracts that can attack disease. However I also think God guides doctors and has put them in a position to help. Nothing is wrong with praying for God to send the right doctor and give them insight as to exactly what is wrong in your body. We cannot do anything without God, whether we realize it or not.

      Sometimes people only look for God to provide help in one way. I feel like writing a hub in response to this Sally. It's upsetting that people are dying this way. Voted up and useful.

    • SallyTX profile image

      Sally Branche 4 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Absolutely, and you know even the lawyer's argument that any parent would wait three days is just not applicable even if it were true. These aren't just any parents. These are parents who have already killed one child with faith healing and have a parole agreement that they need to obey!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      The flu has taken on a more dreadful change nowadays. 3 days is too long not to get medical assistance. They have lots of faith, but they lost a child when they can do something about it.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      I'm glad they threw the book at these irresponsible parents who put their so-called religious freedom above the survival of their children. Sad. The kids had no choice in this.