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Parents Sentenced to Prison for Belief in Healing Power of Prayer

Posted on | February 21, 2014 | No Comments

Couple who broke probation with death of second son given one of harshest punishments for faith healing.

Two Pentecostal parents from Philadelphia watched two of their sons die from treatable diseases because they believe in faith healing. Now the couple has been sentenced to between three and seven years in prison.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible—already on a 10-year probation for the death of their 2-year-old son Kent from untreated bacterial pneumonia in 2009—were found guilty of third-degree homicide, endangering the welfare of a child, and conspiracy following the death of their second son, Brandon, last year.

The couple refused to take the seven-month-old to the hospital. Suffering from dehydration and bacterial pneumonia, Brandon died instead of being given fluids and antibiotics.

"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 told police after Brandon's death.

On Wednesday, judge Benjamin Lerner told the Schaibles, "You've killed two of your children. … Not God. Not your church. Not religious devotion. You."

The legal battles surrounding faith healing are not new, as CT has reported. The Associated Press reports that about a dozen American children die each year in faith-healing cases. The Shaibles' case is the latest to address parents who forego traditional medical treatment and resort to faith or prayer healing instead. Although "more than a dozen" states legally protect parents' right to pursue faith healing, according to the AP, the extent of that protection has not been firmly established. In some situations, parents may be immune to child abuse charges, but not to homicide counts.

However, the punishments doled out by courts have been increasing. …

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