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Diatribe: Faith Healers Let A Second Child Die.


schaibleI know some people with a really sick cat.  They’re a newlywed couple without children and this tired, old cat is the center of their world.  The cat is old.  Really old.  And it’s been diagnosed with cat cancer in addition to several other ailments.  But they love their cat and they’re doing everything that they can to keep it comfortable and to be certain that they have no regrets concerning its care once it’s gone.  They have spent thousands of dollars and uncounted hours caring for their cat.  They probably have said a few prayers, too, between visits to the veterinarian.

A Philadelphia couple serving probation for the 2009 death of their toddler after they turned to prayer instead of a doctor could face new charges now that another son has died.  Herbert and Catherine Schaible are members of a fundamentalist Christian church that believes in faith healing.  Last week, after suffering from diarrhea and breathing problems for at least a week before he stopped eating, their eight-month-old son passed away.  His older brother died from bacterial pneumonia four years ago.  Both boys would certainly have lived had they been provided a doctor’s care.

Prosecutors have said that a decision on charges will be made after the results of an autopsy have been examined and studied.

“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.” – Mythri Jayaraman, Counsel for Catherine Schaible

The Schaibles were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the January 2009 death of their two-year-old son whose symptoms had included coughing, congestion, crankiness and a loss of appetite before his death, and were sentenced to ten years’ probation.

A judge told them at a recent hearing that they had violated the terms of their probation, nothing that they had told investigators that they prayed to God to make the baby well instead of seeking medical attention.  Prosecutors sought to have the couple jailed but the judge allowed them to remain free because their seven other children had been placed in foster care.

It seems to me that the judge has placed the other seven children in danger by returning them to their parents.

“Nobody argues that these aren’t very loving, nurturing parents.  Whether their religion had anything to do with the death of their baby, we don’t know.” – Mythri Jayaraman

This is a tragic story and, hopefully, one that will soon come to an end.  The fact that this couple allowed a second child to suffer and die when medical help was readily available, against clearly defined instructions from the court, reflects a defiant criminal intent.  While I admire anyone who stays true to their religious convictions, it’s difficult for me to understand how someone could do so at the risk of their child’s health.  After all, didn’t God create doctors?


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From → Diatribes

  1. Your last point is huge. I find people like this to be arrogant. Why? How do they know how God’s healing will manifest itself. Maybe the doctors and our ability to think are God’s miracle to help this child and the one before. It reminds me of the story of the man who prayed to God to win the lottery. He prayed and prayed. Then, finally exasperated, he looked up and said God why have you forsaken me? The clouds parted and God said, it would help if you buy a ticket. This family’s ticket was the doctor who could have cured each of their now dead children.


  2. This is like the following joke (paraphrased): A man is caught in a flash flood. He climbs onto his roof & prays to God for help. A little while later a canoe paddles up & offers to help him get to safety. He sends it away, saying God will save him. Shortly after that, a helicopter comes by & offers to give him a ride, but again he turns it down, saying God will save him. A little while later the man drowns. When he gets to the pearly gates he questions God & asks why he didn’t save him. God replies “I sent you a boat & a helicopter, what more did you want?”
    I can understand people having strong faith, but when it comes to the life of your child God has provided medical help, take it.


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