Herbert and Catherine Schaible Sentenced

A year ago we posted Another Child of Faith-Healing Creationists Dies. That was the second child of Pennsylvania creationist parents, Herbert and Catherine Schaible, to die in their care.

A few years earlier we wrote about the earlier death of one of their children, which occurred when the Schaibles turned to prayer instead of medicine. Herbert had said to police at the time: “We tried to fight the devil, but in the end the devil won.”

They were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for that first death, but were given no jail time — just probation and an order to provide medical care for their remaining children. We also dug up some information about their church — First Century Gospel Church — where Herbert was a teacher. The church’s website has been revised and cleaned up, but at the time it was clear that in addition to faith healing, they also believe in creationism.

Now they’re being sentenced for the death of another of their children. The story appears at the website of WCAU, the NBC station in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, and this is the headline: Faith-Healing Parents Get Up to 7 Years for Infant Son’s Death. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A Pennsylvania couple who believe in faith-healing rather than modern medicine will each spend the next three and half to seven years behind bars for the death of their 8-month-old son, the second time one of their ill children died without seeing a doctor.

This is the sentence they should have received after the first of their children died. Ah well, the story continues:

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner told Herbert and Catherine Schaible on Wednesday that it wasn’t 8-month-old Brandon’s time to die. He said: “You’ve killed two of your children… not God, not your church, not religious devotion — you.”

We imagine the Schaibles were thinking: No, judge, it was the devil! Let’s read on:

At the time, they were under court orders to seek medical care for their children after their 2-year-old son Kent died of untreated pneumonia in 2009.


The prosecution [this time] asked for a sentence of eight to 16 years.

They’re finally learning to take this stuff seriously. We continue:

Both expressed remorse and apologized for violating a court order to seek medical care for their children following the 2009 death of a 2-year-old son of untreated pneumonia.

Oh yeah, remorse. However:

“We believe in divine healing, that Jesus shed blood for our healing and that he died on the cross to break the devil’s power,” Herbert Schaible said in a 2013 police statement. Medicine, he said, “is against our religious beliefs.”

Can’t blame him, really. After all, ya gotta have faith. Here’s one last excerpt, and it’s a winner:

Their pastor, Nelson Clark, has said the Schaibles lost their sons because of a “spiritual lack” in their lives and insisted they would not seek medical care even if another child appeared near death.

The story also mentions that their six surviving minor children are now in foster care. For them, it’s a happy ending.

You may be wondering why we post about those people. It’s because creationists are always claiming how evil evolution is, and how it leads to Hitler, school shootings, etc. They’re lying, of course. So when we come across a genuine case of death caused by belief in a creationist cult, we think it’s worthy of mention.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Herbert and Catherine Schaible Sentenced

  1. This is too horrible for words.

  2. Dear “Lake of Fire” Guy,

    Where are your objections this THIS happens?

  3. Sadly, foster care in the US isn’t all that great either. But at least they have a chance to live until they are able to take care of themselves.

  4. Ceteris Paribus

    Meanwhile, back in Brownbackistan, State House Rep Gail Finney (D-Wichita) has introduced a bill that would allow parents, or others given permission of the parents, to spank children to the point of causing bruises and welts. She claims the current Kansas state law permitting spanking isn’t strict enough.

    In contrast, some 30 other states have completely outlawed corporal punishment.

  5. Although I violate this tenet regularly, perhaps it would be best for our own healths if we didn’t get angry at Stupid. Reminds me of one of the Evil Overlord vows in the list of things I’d do if I were ever an Evil Overlord:

    “I shall not turn into a snake. It never helps.”

    Just so, getting livid at idiots like these doesn’t help either. Alas. Well, at least the Schaibles will be the poster figures for the new “Bring Back Sterilization” movement.

  6. Don’t these people ever wonder why children who receive medical care seem to defeat the devil? It’s possible that defeating the devil just means being smart enough to seek professional help.

    Lock ’em up and throw away the key.

  7. Stephen Kennedy

    What is it about religious fundamentalist creationists that compels them to murder their children? It must be their holier than thou world view that makes them think these ***s can get away with anything they want as long as they are child killing Christian ***s.

  8. SC: “So when we come across a genuine case of death caused by belief in a creationist cult, we think it’s worthy of mention.”

    Such as the case of Jamie Coots, the snake-handling (now former) pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro, Kentucky, who died this past week after refusing treatment when bitten by a 2 1/2 foot timber rattlesnake during a serpent-handling ritual in his church.

    His name has been entered as a contestant for the 2014 Darwin Award. How perfectly ironic — a full-blown creationist in the running for a Darwin Award.

  9. Stephen Kennedy

    The poor snake could get food poisoning biting those things.

  10. I am glad that the first kid finally got justice, but it’s a shame that it took the death of a 2nd child to achieve it.

  11. @ Stephen Kennedy: but they did get away with it the first time.

  12. It strikes me that perhaps the pastor, Nelson Clark, is the real shadow monster in this tragedy. I think it’s safe to infer that he was instrumental not only in reinforcing the Schaibles’ obdurate delusions, but also in encouraging them to defy the 2009 court order. This despicable worm now seeks to absolve himself of any responsibility by claiming that the child died because the parents weren’t sufficiently spiritual (whatever that might actually mean).

    Through tradition rather than reason, these “men of the cloth” enjoy a special dispensation, and the more so the crazier their particular spiel. When the courts start implicating people like Clark for, say, incitement in cases such as these, we might also start seeing fewer of them.

    BTW, it’s fitting that their house of worship is the First Century Gospel Church because clearly that’s where their thinking is at.

  13. First Century Gospel Church and Nelson Clark were also connected to unnecessary child deaths back in 1991. The children who died had contracted measles because they hadn’t been immunised, no doubt based on the “belief that healing is in the hands of God and that prayer, faith and anointing with oil, not orthodox medicine, will heal them.

  14. If this were a Law and Order episode, Jack McCoy would be sitting at a table across from Nelson Clark and his lawyer in a small room on Rikers Island right now.

  15. Brandon was sick with diarrhea and vomiting and was having trouble breathing before he died. Instead of taking their son to the doctor, the parents prayed for his healing and called a church pastor to come and pray with them while they rocked him on their recliner in the living room.

    Although it might have been ultimately futile, if I was the D.A., I would have charged that “pastor” with aiding and abetting the 3rd degree murder. At the very least, it would have cost him/her a bundle for a defense attorney.

  16. Ceteris Paribus

    Con-Tester notes: “It strikes me that perhaps the pastor, Nelson Clark, is the real shadow monster in this tragedy.

    On the contrary, preacher Nelson Clark is the true victim here. Consider the hardship Clark was forced to endure on account of having to preach to that ungodly set of parents who had a “spiritual lack” in their lives.

    Preacher Clark can now go back to his pulpit every Sunday and weep that he is the one being persecuted. It is just as logical as the story about the guy who murdered his own parents, then wept because he was an orphan.

  17. If you accept the creationists reasoning, then God created everything exactly the way it should be. To suggest a change would be heretical. This has been espoused by churches throughout history. The Catholic Church ordered it’s monks to not practice medicine but still profitted from selling nostrums based upon superstition as religious cures for things like Bubonic Plague.

    This is truly appalling hypocracy. Accept creationism, eschew progress, curiosity, modern medicine, rational thought, happiness, etc. All for the “meaning” that God gives their lives. Could somebody explain to me what that “meaning” is? Nobody seems to know.

  18. foster care in the US isn’t all that great either.

    I’m sorry, but this rubs me the wrong way. As a former foster parent, who fostered a troubled child from the time she was 11 until she was 18, I can tell you the problem is not the care, but that the system is overwhelmed, with over 500,000 children in the US in foster care, with about 80% of them having severe emotional problems. Budgets in just about every state have been cut, often drastically, with predictable results.

    As far as the faith healing case, the root of the legal problem is the federal statute, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). CAPTA requires states in the grant program to include failure to provide medical care in their definitions of neglect, but follows this with, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as establishing a Federal requirement that a parent or legal guardian provide a child any medical service or treatment against the religious beliefs of the parent or legal guardian. . . .” This allow states to exempt religious objectors from criminal and civil laws and, to varying degrees, 43 states have.

    Without the religious exemption in the federal law, states in the grant program, (all of them), could not allow faith healers free reign. Of course, with people like Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) in charge, who argued on the Senate floor during debate that parents have a First Amendment right to withhold medical care from their children, things are unlikely to change.

  19. Obama sent a drone to kill Anwar al-Awlaki for inspiring murder. Why no drone for pastor Nelson Clark and the Anders Breivik-inspiring WND?