Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Same Parents, Second Faith Healing Death

Photo: Herbert and Catherine Schiable

The entire (very short) article, by MaryClaire Dale, reporting for the Associated Press, at this website:

A Pennsylvania couple who believe in faith-healing face 20 years or more in prison in the death of a second child who died without seeing a doctor.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible are being sentenced Wednesday in the death last year of their 8-month-old son, Brandon. 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 Schaibles are third-generation members of a small Pentecostal community, the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia.

A lawyer for Catherine Schaible, 44, plans to explore their religious beliefs at the sentencing. Her 45-year-old husband's lawyer argues that no malice was involved.

The Schaibles have pleaded no contest to third-degree murder in Brandon's death. They have seven surviving children.

"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."

A jury had convicted both parents of involuntary manslaughter in Kent's death, and they were put on 10 years of probation that included orders to seek medical care if any other child got sick.

After Brandon's death, an irate judge found they had violated parole.

Prosecutors have described the boys' symptoms as "eerily similar," and said they included labored breathing and a refusal to eat. Catherine Schaible's lawyer, though, said her client tried to feed Brandon during his illness and applied baby powder to keep him comfortable.

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.

Now, just a few things from me:

--While the lawyer for Catherine Schiable can investigate whether she has the right to believe as she does, someone has to tell these two that the important person in this whole case isn't one of the parents, and so therefore their religious beliefs, while obviously important, isn't the #1 thing to take into consideration.  The most important person is the dead 8-month old son, Brandon.  So how about someone spend a little time investigating his rights, starting with his right to stay alive?

--Am I reading this right?  Did the courts give the Schiables 10 years' probation after they were convicted of manslaughter for the death of their first son?  They've done this before.  And we're shocked that such people would do it again?  Did the first judge really think that such people would change their religious beliefs simply because a judge told them to?

--Note to the Pennsylvania courts: They have seven surviving children.  Key word there is "surviving."  Which in this case translates to: "Their parents haven't killed them yet."  They've done this twice now.  They will do it again, even if you tell them not to.

--No one from the courts was going to the house to check on the eight remaining kids until Brandon died?  Someone will say that there isn't enough people to check on everyone, but I'll bet someone was checking on the kids of the parents who were poor, or amongst a minority--but who hadn't already been convicted of killing one of their kids.

--Yet another example of the continued battle between scientific facts and religious beliefs in this country: pneumonia isn't the Devil.  It's an infection caused by a virus or by bacteria.  You can believe that Jesus can win a battle with the Devil.  That's fine.  But antibiotics can win a battle with pneumonia.

--Beliefs are not facts.  If they were, they'd be called "facts" and not "beliefs."  You can believe whatever you want.  When it crosses the line in your psyche into "fact" land, you'd better have what scientists call "proof" or "provable evidence."  If you don't, you have to understand that when you say something is against your beliefs, than it's just that--a belief.  Not a fact.

--Note to faith-healing believers: If They exist, God and Jesus want you to save your kids.  They really do.

--Did you see at the bottom of the article that their pastor says they'll do this again?  Don't you think that the pastor--or even one of the Schiables--said the same thing after Kent died?

--Speaking of this pastor, can the PA law go after him now?  Now that the parents themselves are in jail, how about charging this guy with being an accessory?  He is wielding a gun, an obvious weapon, except it's verbal and not physical.  I know it's a touchy thing because now we're talking about religious beliefs again, but--legally speaking--if Person X tells Person Y to jump off the bridge because Jesus wants him to, and then Person Y jumps off the bridge, isn't Person X culpable at all?  Religion is being used like a drug here, like Ecstasy (the literalism is intentional).  It is against the law to control someone using an actual drug, and then have them commit crimes for you.  I mean, didn't Charles Manson do exactly that?  Like this pastor, he never lifted a finger to do any of the killings himself.  And I have to think that the Schiables told their pastor they were taking a wait-and-see approach with their son's pneumonia, so isn't he also culpable for that reason? So why not charge the pastor?  Can someone with legal training please explain this to me?

--There's a twisted version of Munchausen Syndrome going on here.  I mean this literally.  Notice that the parents very clearly believe that this case is about their religious beliefs, and not really about Brandon at all.  It's like this is their way of having all of the attention, of preaching about their religion.  Their their their.  In interviews, they keep saying "my," or "our," as in: "Medicine is against our religious beliefs."  It's narcissism.  Once parents like this are convicted of killing one of their kids because of their beliefs--whatever they are--can't we then at least put them in a mental health facility?  Narcissism and Munchausen's can be very dangerous personality disorders--as we see here--so if there are legal issues because of religion, can we not go this route?  Again, someone with legal training needs to explain this to me.

--If these parents were to say that the family dog told them to withhold medicine for Kent, wouldn't they have been in a jail or in a facility after that?  I don't mean to offend by comparing Jesus to the family dog--that's not what I'm doing--but if these parents were to have said that anything else at all (the family pet, the Devil, their dishwasher, whatever) told them to withhold medicine for their children, wouldn't they already have been whisked away?  Haven't scores of people done exactly this, and been carted away?  Why then is this any different, from a legal perspective?  These people are hearing voices just like all of the others who've said "The dog told me to..." or "The Devil told me to..." and yet they're less culpable because they say that it's Jesus speaking to them?  Yet again, someone with legal training, please comment or send me an email.

Because none of this makes any sense to me at all.

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