Investigation launched in Philadelphia after faith-healing couple lose a second child

AUTHORITIES in Philadelphia have launched an investigation to ascertain whether religion was at the root of the death of an eight-month-old boy whose parents were convicted for the involuntary manslaughter in 2009 of their two-year-old son, Kent.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible, members of a fundamentalist Christian church that believes that prayer is more effective than medical treatment, were serving ten years’ probation after being found guilty of failing to seek treatment for Kent.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible

Herbert and Catherine Schaible

Last week they lost their another child Brandon after he suffered from diarrhoea and breathing problems for at least a week, and stopped eating.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that a decision on charges will be made after they get the results of an autopsy.

At a hearing Monday, a judge told the couple they had violated the terms of their probation, noting the Schaibles had told investigators that they prayed to God to make Brandon well instead of seeking medical attention.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said:

You did that once, and the consequences were tragic.

Prosecutors on Monday sought to have the couple jailed, but Lerner permitted them to remain free because their seven other children had been placed in foster care.

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, who prosecuted the couple in 2010, said:

He [Lerner] feels they are a danger to their children – not to the community, but to their own children.

Herbert Schaible, 44, and his 43-year-old wife grew up in the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia and have served as teachers there. The church’s website has a sermon titled “Healing – From God or Medicine?” that quotes Bible verses purportedly forbidding Christians from visiting doctors or taking medicine. The message declares:

It is a definite sin to trust in medical help and pills; and it is real faith to trust on the Name of Jesus for healing.

Catherine Schaible’s attorney, Mythri Jayaraman, cautioned against a rush to judgment, and said the couple are good parents deeply distraught over the loss of another child.

There are way more questions than answers at this point. We haven’t seen the autopsy report. We don’t know the cause of death of this child. What we do know is Mr and Mrs Schaible are distraught, they are grieving, they are tremendously sad about the loss of their most recent baby.

According to this report, about a dozen children die in faith-healing cases each year in the United States.

Hat tip: DC Brighton & Angela K