Christian couple face lengthy jail sentences for involuntary manslaughter of son

A FUNDIE Christian couple who relied on prayer, not medicine, to cure their dying toddler son was convicted last week of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible of Philadelphia face more than a decade in prison for the January 2009 pneumonia death of 2-year-old Kent.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible

Jury foreman Vince Bertolini, 49, told The Associated Press:

We were careful to make sure we didn’t have their religion on trial but were holding them responsible for their conduct. At the least, they were guilty of gross negligence, and (therefore) of involuntary manslaughter.

The Schaibles, who have six other children, declined to comment as they left the courthouse to await sentencing February 2.

Experts say about a dozen US children die in faith-healing cases each year. An Oregon couple were sentenced this year to 16 months in prison for negligent homicide in the death of their teenage son, who had an undiagnosed urinary blockage.

Kent Schaible’s symptoms had included coughing, congestion, crankiness and a loss of appetite, although his parents said he was eating and drinking until the last day, and they had thought he was getting better.

Herbert Schaible, 42, teaches at a school affiliated with their church, First Century Gospel Church. His wife, 41, previously taught there, but now stays at home with the couple’s children, from an infant to teenagers.

The Schaibles grew up in the church and have never received medical care themselves, not counting the help of the 84-year-old lay midwife who attends home births, according to pastor Nelson A Clark.

Clark balks at suggestions the church is a cult or fringe religion.

Church elders do not shun members who seek medical care, although they pray that they make a different choice next time, he said. He notes the high number of deaths blamed each year on medical mistakes – as many as 100,000 a year in hospitals alone, according to a widely discussed Institute of Medicine study from 1999.

The legal community is trying to force our church group to put them in the hands of this flawed medical system, when they have chosen to put them in the hands of a perfect God, who does not make mistakes.

The couple did not take the stand during the four-day trial, but a social worker testified that Kent Schaible once said “the devil won” in the battle for their son’s life.

19 responses to “Christian couple face lengthy jail sentences for involuntary manslaughter of son”

  1. Newspaniard says:

    “Jury foreman Vince Bertolini, 49, told The Associated Press:

    We were careful to make sure we didn’t have their religion on trial…”

    WTF? Why not?

  2. Daz says:

    Tim Minchin on the power of prayer.
    (couple of swearies)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Their pastor, Nelson A. Clark of the First Century Gospel Church of Juniata Park, which teaches healing through prayer and eschews medical care as evidence of a lack of faith in God, seemed crushed by the jury’s conclusion.

    The Schaibles’ 2-year-old son, Kent, died after fighting what began as a cold and progressed over two weeks to bacterial pneumonia. According to testimony, Herbert Schaible, 42, and Catherine Schaible, 41, prayed for their son and thought he might be getting better.

    But on the night of Jan. 24, 2009, the Schaibles discovered that Kent was dead. They called the church’s assistant pastor, Ralph Myers, who came to the house, joined the parents in prayer, and then called a funeral director.

    “We tried to fight the devil, but in the end the devil won,” Herbert Schaible told homicide detectives in a statement read to the jury during the trial, which began Tuesday.

  4. mikespeir says:

    How do many times do they have to be bitten? How many failures do Christians need before they wake up and say, “Hey, the faith thing doesn’t work. Let’s try something else”?

  5. elainek123 says:

    I believe religion is just excuse for cruelty to children.
    Christins hang your heads in shame that you let this happen, without showing these people the error of their ways. I suppose the bible tells them to kill, and if you are evil you sure have an excuse..

  6. Daz says:


    It does work though. It has just as good a success rate as random chance, after all. What more proof do you need?

  7. mikespeir says:

    Well, then let’s try something other than faith and random chance, Daz. 😉 Oh, wait! It just so happens we have something like that.

  8. Stonyground says:

    They really are thoroughly unpleasant people who would let a child suffer and die rather than seek medical help. Unpleasant and stupid. You can’t even nominate them for any kind of Darwin award as the dead child was one of seven.

  9. go says:

    We changed our views on drunk driving. People who drove drunk and maimed or killed someone used to get a slap on the wrist. No more, now they are held accountable for their actions and given stiff sentences. Driving while drunk is taken much more seriously. When are we going to wake up and treat ‘faith healing’ and this kind of child negligence as seriously? It is funny, I never hear about these religious kooks shunning the dentist. The go right in when they have a toothache. Apparently, you can’t pray a toothache away. And I have seen plenty of them with glasses, so I guess ‘god’ doesn’t correct vision either. Damn hypocrites…

  10. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    If anyone wants to risk their own life, fine, but there is no way they should be allowed to put the lives of children at risk.

  11. Har Davids says:

    It’s bad that this happened, but as long as people are allowed to be stupid enough to believe in divine intervention, it’s a form of natural selection. Anyone sensible would make sure to have the defendants’ religion on trial. Other kids’ lives are at stake, I think.

  12. terry says:

    These hypocrites are primitive, ridiculous and reprehensible there brain’s and eyes have glazed over so as not to recognize what they have done through indoctrination. Illness is the work of demons.
    All such things are shielded from the critical mind, from questioning through indoctrination.
    Most modern psychological research clearly shows that many serious psychotic problems, or personality disorder’s, are connected with unfortunate early experience’s. The more serious a mental disorder the more likely it has originated early in life.
    Religious beliefs indoctrinated into a child results in mental illness in later life, neurosis and delusion to name just two. If you have evidence for something in front of you and you deny its existence you’re delusional. Now that poor child is dead because of their fixed false beliefs, their delusion.
    Their indoctrination has been so thorough, neither their minds nor their human spirit will ever gain it’s well-being and freedom.
    In short they don’t have religion, religion has them.

  13. Buffy says:

    It’s sad that in this day and age people are still allowed to preach shit like that and get away with it. Then it’s not until a kid dies that anything is done–and only to the parents. Meanwhile the “church” is still spewing its nonsense….

  14. NeoWolfe says:

    I have a question. Do atheists ever have anything to talk about, other than how bad religion is? Is there ever a time when freethinkers say, “uh-duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh”!!!!!!!!! Religion is the bane of humanity!!!!!!!

    Is there ever a point when we can discuss art, music, politics, dance, movies, theater, comedy, tragedy, or even porno? Yes, religion is bane of human existence, but, the day anyone finds himself in a circle of obsessive compulsive acquaintences that live to hate religion, you need to reexamine your priorities. That’s not what freethought is.


  15. Daz says:

    Do atheists ever have anything to talk about, other than how bad religion is?

    Frequently. You really think the five minutes a day we spend commenting on here is the only thing we do?

  16. barriejohn says:

    They’d sold out of roast chickens at our local Tesco yesterday. Anyone else had a similar experience recently? It’s really not good enough, but I expect panic buying had a lot to do with it. Oh – and it’s snowing here today. Looks lovely, but I hope the old people will be careful!

  17. Sean Reynolds says:

    @NeoWolfe: Yeah screw those atheists and their news reading. Do you run around ripping newspapers out of peoples hands?
    “Put down dem word pages boy, learnin’ bout things is how the devil gits to ya!”
    Its not quite Orwell’s ‘Two Minutes Hate’, and you’re confusing all atheists and anti-theists. Personally, I love a good chuckle at the crazy happenings of Birdshit Green – I think his life deserves show made of him or someone based on him like The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. Maybe Chris Morris could write it!

    Mr. (sorry, I mean Señor!) Duke manages to pull what would be otherwise depressing stories of crazies trying to ruin other people’s lives into the realms of mockery and I think its the best way to disarm what is otherwise a horrible, unreasonable burden on civilization.

    Forgive me for indulging in a chuckle at a daily roundup of humanity’s failings.

    PS: Bizarrely, the CAPTCHA below me is “KLAN”. Maybe it’s trying to chime in to my post! After all there’s little more simultaenously horrifying and bewilderingly hilarious than racist scumfucks dressed in really shitty ghost costumes, calling eachother dragon wizards and burning crosses because…Jesus loves them, not you!

  18. Mark Richards says:

    It’s most unfortunate that the kind of passive eugenics that this results in do not instead take down the idiot parents who wish to live in the Dark Ages. As in most despicable acts, the innocents must suffer and die.

    If there is any debate, it may be in two areas: (a) the level of medical care and therapeutics is so extensive that it places demands of choice upon individuals, some of whom are ill-equipped (pun) to understand, and directly related.. (b) the choice to accept medical care and how much if at all must always be the choice of an individual adult, and in all cases an act of informed consent.

    Still, children should have a right to survive to the age of consent. Then they may decide for themselves.

    A simple course of antibiotics and fluid management would likely have saved this child.

    Since Jebeesus didn’t take care of it early on (prevention is the best cure) then perhaps letting the pharmacy do “His” work would have been the next logical choice. If anything, this couple should be tried for ignorance.

  19. what? says:

    Disappointed.. I thought this was a free think site.. not a Christian bashing site. I do think that not goin to a doc is stupid. But damn dude.. have you seen what the sick ass Muslims do to their children and women? Fuck that. I had rather deal with a Christian any day. Most Christians I know DO go to the doc. SO GET OFF YOUR HATER HIGH HORSES. Bunch of freakin idiots! Find something worthwhile to hate. Live and let die. I wouldn’t want you assholes or anyone else telling ME what to do. Go ahead.. follow your little minded crowds. Sorry you know.. I am a realist. I think for myself. I dont need a bunch haters telling me who to and who not to hate! Stupid fuckin people. Ghaaa! Grow up. Let people do their own thing. I don’t care what anyone believes. You idiots live your lives worried about what others believe. Can I say it one more time? Yes. You are stupid closed minded people who only THINK you are enlightened.. pfft..