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2nd prayer death: Faith-healing couple sentenced for allowing death of child

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A second prayer death in one family led to prison time for a devout faith-healing couple after they refused to get medical help for their sick child last year.

A Pennsylvania couple that refused to get medical help for their ailing 8-month-old son, choosing instead to pray over him as a means to a cure for his pneumonia, were sentenced Wednesday for his subsequent death. The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) Feb. 19 that Herbert and Catherine Schaible were sentenced to 3-and-one-half years to 7 years in prison for defying a 2011 court order to get medical treatment for their children should they become sick.

The child, Brandon, was the second of the Schaible's children to die while being prayed for. In 2009, their two-year-old son, Kent, died from the very same ailment as young Brandon -- treatable pneumonia.

The pair pleaded no contest to third-degree murder in the second prayer death. They had faced a maximum of 20-to-40 years of imprisonment.

The couple had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the death of 2-year-old Kent Schaible in 2009. A subsequent court order issued in 2011 charged the pair with making certain their children had annual medical check-ups and were to be seen by a doctor if they should fall ill.

The Schaibles had been sentenced to 10 years of probation following the conviction.

Judge Benjamin Lerner dismissed the Schaibles claims in Brandon's case that their religious beliefs -- they are third generation Pentecostal Christians of the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia -- clashed with order of the court.

"April of 2013 wasn't Brandon's time to die," Lerner insisted, pointing out the violence committed throughout human history in the name of religion. "You've killed two of your children. ... Not God. Not your church. Not religious devotion — you."

Herbert Schaible, 45, has already served a year in jail. Catherine Schaible, 44, has been free on bond.

The Schaibles have seven surviving children.

Experts conclude, according to the Associated Press, that at least a dozen children die each year due to faith-healing cases.

In other extreme religious news, the pastor of a snake-handling church in Kentucky who became famous through the National Geographic Channel's reality show "Snake Salvation" was bitten Saturday by one of the rattlesnakes he was handling during a church service. He was bitten on the hand, refused medical treatment, and later died.

Back in January, two women in Maryland claimed to have been performing an exorcism on the children of one of the women and attempted to force the demons from the children's' bodies by stabbing them. Two of the children were killed.

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