Faith-Healing Churches Linked to 2 Dozen Child Deaths

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Two Philadelphia faith-healing churches have a long history of the youngest members of their congregation dying because parents refused medical care.


Families who attend Faith Tabernacle Congregation in North Philadelphia and First Century Gospel Church in Juniata Park have lost more than two dozen children to illness since 1971, according to non-profit Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc. (CHILD, Inc.). Both churches believe in the power of prayer over modern medicine.

The Schaibles are one of those families.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible stand charged with third-degree murder and other crimes after their 7-month-old son Brandon died from bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and a group B streptococcus infection on April 18.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says the boy’s death could have been prevented, but the couple instead turned to prayer.

Written By: Vince Lattanzio
continue to source article at nbcphiladelphia.com

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  1. Their ignorance is unacceptable, their child must have suffered in pain much longer because of his parents, its so sad for the child and all because of the parents alliegance to a non exsistent god over and above their own helpless child…It beggs belief – If it were the adults deciding for themselves not to accept any medical treatment that would be more acceptable, but when they are making wrong decisions for their own helpless children theres something far wrong with that

  2. A parent that could sit there and watch their child suffer for days, gasping for breath, burning with fever, and eventually turning blue as they suffocated to death, while doing nothing but mumbling to a God who never answers, is completely and utterly evil beyond anything I can imagine. Assuming their belief in God is complete and sincere, did they ever stop to wonder whether His answer to their prayer might be “I have provided humans with the intelligence to create effective drugs, medical technology and knowledge to cure this disease. Take your child to the ED now!” Did they ever stop to consider the sheer hubris involved in insisting that a Supreme Being must answer prayers in your favor?

    The fact that these people are incapable of taking those logical mental steps, even when faced with the severe suffering of their own children, and can’t see anything wrong with that, is proof that religion is a mental illness.

    • …And of course, this church will hold up the Schaibles as martyrs. The death of their child was a Job-like test of their faith, and the law stepping in gives them a chance to suffer valiantly for their faith!
      In reply to #3 by Sue Blue:

      A parent that could sit there and watch their child suffer for days, gasping for breath, burning with fever, and eventually turning blue as they suffocated to death, while doing nothing but mumbling to a God who never answers, is completely and utterly evil beyond anything I can imagine. Assuming t…

      • In reply to #4 by Sue Blue:

        The death of their child was a Job-like test of their faith, and the law stepping in gives them a chance to suffer valiantly for their faith!

        What filthy story. It tricks people into thinking no matter what happens, good, bad or nothing at all — god is watching you.

  3. As I’ve said before, the blame lies as much, if not more, with otherwise intelligent “moderate” religionists who encourage people to pray: bishops, cardinals, priests, politicians, journalists – almost everyone, in fact. These people encourage people to pray, to believe in the power of spiritual forces, to believe that the highest moral state one can attain is to place faith in these forces – yet the vast majority who preach this nonsense don’t really believe it themselves. If they did, they’d rely on prayer too. Unfortunately there are idiots and mentally ill people who can’t play the game, who really believe it. And is it really fair to blame these people when every authority figure they’ve ever met has told them to think like this?

    • In reply to #5 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      As I’ve said before, the blame lies as much, if not more, with otherwise intelligent “moderate” religionists who encourage people to pray: bishops, cardinals, priests, politicians, journalists – almost everyone, in fact. These people encourage people to pray, to believe in the power of spiritual for…

      Good point, JuC. I will post this point to facebook to all my FB acquaintances who keep praying for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado. I am so blood sick of the calls for prayer. It amounts to “we are really distressed about this misfortune, so let’s just all agree to spiritually masturbate so that we’ll feel better.

      • Maybe you should suggest to your FB acquaintances that they pray to their (apparently angry) god to keep them safe from next tornado. After all, prevention is better than cure. If they had enough faith they could do away with that expensive Storm Prediction Centre.

        In reply to #15 by justinesaracen:

        In reply to #5 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

        As I’ve said before, the blame lies as much, if not more, with otherwise intelligent “moderate” religionists who encourage people to pray: bishops, cardinals, priests, politicians, journalists – almost everyone, in fact. These people encourage people to pray,…

  4. Good people/good things/bad people/bad things = Reality. Good people/bad things = Religion.

    As a parent I’m left stunned and furious at the very thought of how those children must have suffered.

    Hopefully they were all too young to realize that they had been abandoned by there own parents.

  5. I really wanted that report to ask ‘John’ “And what had the children done wrong that he decided to inflict death upon them?”

    It’s an obvious question after Johns explanation. I’m sure he’d have an answer (albiet, a really stupid or insane one), and I’d like to hear it.

    But seriously though, religious exemption for child neglect? These parents are just as culpable in murdering their children if they sacrificed them to the Sun by driving a knife through their heart. Their only defense of willful murder is believing in something that is demonstrably false. In that case, they have all the defense of an Aztec priest or a mentally ill person. But slap Jesus on it, and they can get away with it.

    If there’s any good that comes of it, it brings the problem of religious exemptions into sharp relief. Unfortunately, it does that by showcasing one of the worst problems of those exemptions.

  6. There are 100s of millions of families in this world who lose children to infection every year for not seeking medical help because they couldn’t afford it. Who should be going to jail because of that? What if a family wanted to raise their children the same way people have been doing for all of history, and occasionally losing a child is simply a natural part of that? Personally, I think within a century people will all have “prefect” genes tailored in ways we haven’t even imagined yet, but I’d like to know more about the effects of modern medicine on our ability to survive in the rough if we ever had to again. I think mother nature would be merciless in culling the herd.

    • In reply to #10 by A3Kr0n:

      There are 100s of millions of families in this world who lose children to infection every year for not seeking medical help because they couldn’t afford it. Who should be going to jail because of that? What if a family wanted to raise their children the same way people have been doing for all of his…

      I’m not sure what your point is here, but if it is a justification for ignoring the suffering of a child in the face of easy cures, you are way out in the moral wilderness. Or are you making a simple argument for natural selection? Would you also excuse people for dumping their aged and infirm relatives into the river, the way the Inuit used to do?

  7. What struck me as a bit odd was the prevalence of death-causing diseases in their cult. Surely most childhood illnesses, measles and so on, are self-limiting and don’t develop into life-threatening conditions? Maybe they abuse their children in other ways as well, such as poor diet, unreasonable punishments and so forth.

    They need investigating.

    • In reply to #13 by Macha:

      What struck me as a bit odd was the prevalence of death-causing diseases in their cult. Surely most childhood illnesses, measles and so on, are self-limiting and don’t develop into life-threatening conditions?

      A logical deduction was that they also don’t bother with vaccinations because God can sort all that stuff for them.

      In Darwinian terms, their lunacy gene should eventually die out…

    • In reply to #13 by Macha:

      What struck me as a bit odd was the prevalence of death-causing diseases in their cult. Surely most childhood illnesses, measles and so on, are self-limiting and don’t develop into life-threatening conditions? Maybe they abuse their children in other ways as well, such as poor diet, unreasonable pun…

      An interesting question but it doesn’t say how many cases there were amongst the church-goers in total . Complication rates of childhood illnesses can be high – about 15% in the case of measles. If they’re not immunising or seeking any medical help then those cases that get intractable diarrhoea and vomiting or bacterial pneumonia or meningitis are f—-d, hence what sounds like a third-world mortality rate.

  8. Natural selection favours successful judgements not transitivity or consistent ones. Their evolved capacity for judgement in uncertainty has deserted them as surely as the doG has.

    They get the Darwin award for extinction.

  9. There is a case in Calgary BC. Just a little has come out. A 15 year old boy was starved to death. He had diabetes. He was home schooled. I have two hypotheses as what could have happened, both with a fundamentalist church as the villain. The police say there is foul play. Perhaps we will have to wait for the trial.

  10. The thing that really puzzles me, is even if you had great faith in prayer, when you saw it was clearly not working, why would your refuse to try anything else? You’d think concern for your child would overcome any pride about being proven wrong.
    Look at all the desperate and crazy things people try when conventional cancer therapy does not work.

    Maybe they imagine they will be punished by Jehovah for lack of faith.

  11. What can you say, other than that a murder charge is the only appropriate response here?

    And maybe America needs to be a bit more picky (OK, a bit less “free”) about who is allowed to set up a religion and claim tax dollars for doing so.

    • In reply to #20 by Stevehill:

      What can you say, other than that a murder charge is the only appropriate response here?

      And maybe America needs to be a bit more picky (OK, a bit less “free”) about who is allowed to set up a religion and claim tax dollars for doing so.

      I’m inclined to think given the predictability of these occurrences with this church and others like it that all children of parents belonging to such churches should automatically be put on an “at risk register” with social services. Parents should be required to report all illnesses and be subject to spot checks and fines etc. From an early age children should be given a freephone number of their social worker.

      This removal of some authority from the parents in the matter of their children’s health may be a relief to one or other of them.

  12. Have a “quiverful” of kids and then ignore their ailments. It reminds me of the Daddy Long Legs method of reproduction; lay 100 eggs and maybe 1 or 2 will go on to lay eggs themselves !

    As a parent, I just can’t get my head round how they allowed this to happen. Callous God = callous parents ?

  13. In is one thing for people to withhold medicine from themselves and kill themselves, but quite another to impose non-treatment on another.

    We need groups to monitor such families and put out a warning if a person disappears for a while. We need legislation to allow some third party to keep tabs on them. We then have the problem of tyrannical parents convicing kids to suicide too.

    What is the crime? They are causing the child unnecessary pain. That should be assault. They are endangering the child.

    Once a parent has harmed a child, you could put them on permanent probation to make them show up with the child. Perhaps the child could be taken away.

    Perhaps a lawsuit against the church.

  14. Sue Blue, I am well aware of your loss. I lost one also. Accident, not murder. What can I say ? My heart goes out to you. Be glad you knew him. Enjoy the memories. Get used to it.

    You know all this already. I’ll shut up.

  15. I see they have been charged with third-degree murder but will they actually face any time in gaol as courts have been very lenient with members of this cult in the past. One of the possible 25-deaths since 1971 was a 22 month old haemophiliac that bled to death. For this to happen it would have taken a few days, unless there was a stab wound or he had been in a major accident. Haemophilia is not that quick and internal bleeding, even in a baby would take time to be fatal.

    It seems obvious the courts were over lenient as the parents got probation for involuntary manslaughter. However, another point mentioned on this thread was about how could parents sit back and allow a child to suffer. As a haemophiliac I can make a pretty good guess at the pain that child was in and it would have been obvious to anyone who saw it, therefore the parents were callous to the point of neglect. I would even suggest there was something seriously mentally wrong with a parent who does nothing when their child is in agony.

    I only hope the legal system ignores religious privilege and bias and starts acting against these people, although the pessimist in me thinks there will be a cure for my condition before we see that happen.

  16. There should be NO religious (or any other) exemptions for child neglect or abuse. If you die because of what you believe then that’s up to you, but you have no right imposing your beliefs on others, especially if that means putting their life in danger. End of.

  17. What would happen to a dental clinic that had killed two dozen kids? They would be shut down, no question.

    What would happen if some pervert were running around and had already killed two dozen kids? Catching him would be the #1 priority of every police force within 1000 KM.

    It is madness to let people get away with murder on the excuse of religion. Even when murderers plead insanity, they do not go free. They are not left to murder anew.

    Religion may be excuse for a lighter sentence, same as insanity, but it certainly should not be reason to look the other way. They still have to be stopped.

    • In reply to #31 by Roedy:

      …Religion may be excuse for a lighter sentence, same as insanity….

      Roedy, after many years you’ve finally said something I don’t agree with! I remember Dan Dennett’s remarks about how the attitude for drunk driving has changed over the years, and its analogy with religious thinking. In the old days we used to give lighter sentences to drunk drivers who caused a road death – “poor chap was drunk at the time so couldn’t really be held responsible – he doesn’t even remember the accident so how can we find him guilty, etc, etc”. But nowadays we hold the drunk drivers doubly culpable for putting themselves into that state of mind in the first place.

      The same goes for the religious fanatics who let their children die. The parents got into that situation because they wilfully and recklessly turned off their critical facilities, carelessly allowing any idiotic and dangerous ideas to enter their brain and run rampant, unchallenged. We should hold them doubly culpable for letting such ludicrous ideas to take root in the first place.

  18. Herbert and Catherine Schaible stand charged with third-degree murder and other crimes after their 7-month-old son Brandon died from bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and a group B streptococcus infection on April 18.

    Poor kid. Not only to be born to such lousy “parents” but also to die such a needless, horrible death.

    Hitch was right.

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