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Prayer death case: Parents found guilty

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – Friday, Herbert and Catherine Schaible were convicted on involuntary manslaughter charges for the death of their 2-year-old son, Kent. In January of 2009, Kent died of bacterial pneumonia which is easily treatable with antibiotics. But instead of taking him to the doctor, his parents prayed for him.

The Schailbles belong to the First Century Gospel Church, which preaches prayer healing. Church pastor, Nelson A. Clark commented on Friday about the his view regarding the power of prayer,

“The legal community is trying to force our church group to put them in the hands of this flawed medical system, when they have chosen to put them in the hands of a perfect God, who does not make mistakes.”

According to the Associated Press, about a dozen children die from prayer healing in the United States each year. In this case, Herbert and Catherine Schaible could spend up to ten years in prison for their negligence. Sentencing is scheduled for Febuary. While it is legal for them to refuse medical treatment for themselves, the law holds that they must seek medical treatment for minors under their care.

Pastor Clark, however was not arrested and faces no jail time for preaching a message that cost 2-year-old Kent his life. He will presumable go on preaching that God alone will cure the sick even when the next kid dies as a result of his rhetoric.

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Comments

  • Hugh Kramer 3 years ago

    In a case of bacterial pneumonia, it makes sense to believe in a higher power... like penicillin or one of the other antibiotics.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    Strangely enough seeing a doctor alone would have worked just as well as prayer & seeing a doctor.

    Every few years someone does a scientific study on prayer and medicine and it usually comes out a wash. If memory serves, the last study actually showed that prayer made the patient worse.

  • Angie the Anti-Theist 3 years ago

    Unfortunately, the Bible has several verses advising people to have faith, pray, and be healed. Most of Jesus' ministry years were spent healing people and he preached that all things could be done in his name, including specifically healing.

    It's a shame the Bible doesn't recognize medicine's superior ability to heal.

  • Greg white 3 years ago

    In this case, seeing a doctor would have been more effective by itself than any inclusion of the pointless and reckless act of depending on talking to one self.

  • Profile picture of Matthew Rosenfeld
    Matthew Rosenfeld 3 years ago

    It's just mind boggling how blind some people are. Believing in a God is one thing. Just assuming that praying will make everything all right is just blind stupidity. Even if you believe in God, didn't his creations (humans) create the medicine? Why is it so wrong to use the medicine then? It makes no sense. It's preachers like these who need to have their mouth sealed shut.

  • david 3 years ago

    I realize this man is not a professional of anything other than self worship, however there should be some sort of penalty for advising of unlawful acts of failure to seek treatment for a minor, in the event of death. I realize people must take some responsibility for their own ignorance, but didn't this man put the gun in their hand?

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    Yeah, that is my point.

  • Cheryl 3 years ago

    Wow, you know people why don't we just go back to the Dark Ages and bleed people to cure them and don't forget opening holes in peoples heads to get rid of demons, and burn all people who are slightly different as witches and warlocks. Would you also refuse to stitch up a severed arm and refuse medical treatment for that. I'm sorry no God will cure a severed artery. These people should go to Prison they are sick and disturbed.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    The parents will be going to prison, but the pastor who preaches this message will continue to preach that message every week even after the next kid dies. I think he should have some responsibility for this too. In a way, he put the gun in the parents hands.

  • Profile picture of Alaina Walton
    Alaina Walton 3 years ago

    Actually, the most recent study of prayer and healing shows that prayer is effective, when the patient knows that he/she is being prayed for. Something to consider... In the meantime, I agree with Gary- prayer is important, but God has also blessed us with brains! Why not view medical treatment as yet another blessing?!

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago
  • Rick 3 years ago

    Of course it'll "work" if they know they are being prayed for. It's not the act of prayer that's doing the healing but the chemicals in the brain that are released when one is in a meditative/happy state. Knowing that someone is praying for you makes you happy, which releases chemicals that boost your immune system. If prayer really worked, and wasn't just people talking to themselves, then it would work for people who didn't know they were being prayed for. Why would your god care if people knew they were being prayed for?

  • VonnieGirl 3 years ago

    Prayer is like a drug - it effects the mind and makes everything feel better. Does it save lives...? Of course not. Ridiculous that in a developed country people are still so backward in their thinking.

  • Profile picture of Alaina Walton
    Alaina Walton 3 years ago

    You shouldn't knock what you obviously don't understand.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    I put a link to the study I was referring to, so please enlighten us. You are entitled to your opinion, but not your own made up facts.

  • Profile picture of Alaina Walton
    Alaina Walton 3 years ago

    I was actually refering to the rude comment by VonnieGirl. The study was very enlightening, and I thank you for posting it. It is only one of many studies, though. I admit (as you probably do, too) that the research organization doing the study can be biased, not just about this topic, but almost all topics. Gallop and News From the Pews reports different findings.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    Gallop and Pew are opinion polls, not studies. Every study and there are many show that Prayer is absolutely meaningless and this study actually shows that prayer is harmful. So if we look at all the studies, it is obvious that prayer is meaningless.

    VonnieGirl's comment was not rude. I happen to agree with her. It really is ridiculous that anyone in the developed world still believes in the power of prayer when every study shows that it doesn't work and that common sense suggests that it is a ridiculous concept. Even if you take the religious perspective that God exists (also ridiculous), why would God change his divine plan because you asked him to?

    Prayer is pretending to do something while one actually does nothing. It is people like you who are in part responsible for the death of this boy. His blood is on your hands. Something to consider.

  • Profile picture of Alaina Walton
    Alaina Walton 3 years ago

    Talk about rude! As I stated before, I think it's horrible what this boy's parents and "minister" did! I happen to be a person of faith who believes in prayer (as do many people in the "developed world!"), but I also believe in the human mind, medicine, science, etc... Just because someone is inspired by faith and sees the world through that lense doesn't mean that they're stupid or uneducated or believe that children shouldn't get necessary medical care. I was trying to have a conversation, but the "blood is on your hands" comment was uncalled for and very hurtful. Something to consider.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    First, I think you consider any differing opinions and facts to be "rude" when they aren't. Second, you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. As a point of fact, Faith does not heal people. This has been tested time and time again. Your failure to believe the facts doesn't make me rude for pointing them out to you. Third, I never said you were stupid or uneducated, but it still is ridiculous that you believe something that we know is not true. We live in the developed world which is based on modern science and it really is a shame that so many people reject science when it gets in the way of their dogmatic religious beliefs. Forth, by ignoring the facts and propagating the myth that prayer heals people, you are in part responsible here. You really ought to own up to that fact. You are setting the stage for this type of warped thinking.

  • Profile picture of Alaina Walton
    Alaina Walton 3 years ago

    Admitedly people of faith can use their beliefs to be prejudiced and blind to the world around them. I just never realized that people without the gift of faith can be that way to. You know, there have been many "facts" throughout history that have proven to be not so cut and dry. Perhaps you should be "modern" enough to keep an open mind. People of faith who use their beliefs to act superior get on my nerves. People who use their non-religious beliefs to act superior are just as bad. You're right- I'm not uneducated- I have advanced degrees and experience in several subjects, including counseling. It's been my experience that people who act like that suffer from serious insecurities, control issues, and even OCD. For someone so interested in "facts," you should check it out. I won't be responding again.

  • Profile picture of Alaina Walton
    Alaina Walton 3 years ago

    I lied- I am responding again. After talking to dear friend of mine (also a person of faith), I've realized that our hurtful conversation is pointless. You start from a position of facts, which is fine. I start from a position of relationship, which is infinitely better. So, I'll just go back to my wonderful husband, two adorable children, my new puppy, my incredible church family, my supportive colleagues, and my good friends, and, of course, my God of relationships who will one day turn the wisdom of the world completely upside down. It hardly matters whether you believe that or not- it's a fact in my book. I know what life's all about, and I guess that's all that matters, although I really am sorry that you don't. By the way, my 8-year-old son says you are mean and that you should believe in God. And my 5-year-old daughter wants to kick you in the butt, which I told her was not a very Christian thing to do (faith has its perks!).

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    Your overly emotional outburst really is childish. Nothing I said was mean or rude. Again, you are entitled to your opinions, but not your own facts. The facts are that faith does not heal. This has been tested again and again and I have no doubt it will continue to be tested because people like you want to believe in it despite the obvious fact that faith does not heal.

    When you continue to assert that faith heals you are setting the ground for wackos like these parents and their pastor who killed this child because of their wacky belief that faith heals. You are in part responsible. If your 8 and 5 year old kids believe that I am evil because I don't believe in something because of insufficient reason, that says something about your parenting. It is very sad. Critical thinking skills are important in young children. No child or adult should believe in anything on insufficient reason nor should parents encourage their children to violence because someone doesn't believe what they believe.

    If you hold to the Christian doctrine of eternal torture of Hell, then you have no business in accusing anyone else of being mean or rude. The view that all non-believers will be and ought to be tortured for all eternity is the meanest and rudest thing one can believe. Just say'n.

  • Profile picture of Sembazuru
    Sembazuru 3 years ago

    Alaina Walton said: "And my 5-year-old daughter wants to kick you in the butt, which I told her was not a very Christian thing to do (faith has its perks!)."

    I submit that your admonishment to your child, while correct, isn't a solely Christian thing. I would expect a similar admonishment from anyone from any faith, because it isn't in the interest of peaceful civilization to not encourage rampant violence. It doesn't matter if it is a Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddist, Taoist, Shinto, Wiccan, Atheist, or mixture-of-any-of-the-above society.

    Sorry, but you hit one of my pet peeves of Christians assuming (and stating) that they have a monopoly on morality.

  • Profile picture of Music Man
    Music Man 3 years ago

    Staks,
    I have been reading the conversation above and you seem to be a bit out of line. Telling someone that "His blood is on your hands" is irresponsible. Furthermore, to belittle someone’s parenting skills based upon a child’s beliefs is wrong. I don’t see where in the conversation where anyone encouraged a child to be violent for not believing in God. It seems as though they were sticking up to a bully for their mother. By the way, most bullies are extremely insecure about something…just say’n.

    ps…do you know the old saying “there are no atheists in foxholes”

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    Music Man, I don't think my statement is out of line at all and I do think that I supported that statement. I have continually objected to the claim that faith heals people as Alaina asserted and gave evidence to support my objection. Alaina is the one who claimed "rudeness" for simply disagreeing with her belief (not supported by the facts). I don't see where the "bullying" is and I think that is loaded language. I still contend that claiming that faith heals people against the evidence puts her and others at least in part responsible for these crimes. This belief is not only a proven myth, but as we have seen in this case an extremely dangerous one.

    On the personal attack level, Alaina's pseudo-psychological analysis is an attempt to shift the focus of the argument rather than deal with the actual facts at hand and her attempt to bring her children into the discussion is an attempt at emotional bullying. Let's just stick to the actual argument on the table rather than attempting to psycho-analyze people over the internet. There was also no reason to bring her children into the discussion as they have absolutely nothing to do with this case. But I will not cry "bully" because that the actual facts are on my side here.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    In short, name calling aside, lets deal with this case. This kid is dead because his parents believed that faith heals and all the evidence suggestions that this is not true... and obviously so. It is hard to imagine that in a developed nation like this one, that educated people could still believe this ridiculous myth despite all the evidence to the contrary. Further more, perpetuating this myth is dangerous as we have seen in this case and others like it. Do you have any actual objections to this based on actual evidence? If so, present it.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    As for your last comment about "no atheists in the foxhole" this is a myth too. I just wrote an article on this about a month or two ago and will be writing another one soon. There are in fact plenty of atheists in the foxhole, but that has nothing at all to do with this story. Your attempt at distraction is unsuccessful. Do you have evidence to suggest that prayer healing actually works? I didn't think so.

  • Profile picture of Music Man
    Music Man 3 years ago

    Staks,

    It's extremely sad that these parents let there child die in the name of "faith." I have never disagreed with that. As Alaina said,"but God has also blessed us with brains! Why not view medical treatment as yet another blessing?!" It does not seem as though she disagrees either. Not every person who has faith is an "extremist."

    As far as God and faith not existing, I spent too many days at CHOP with cancer patients. There was more that one instance where the doctors talked about miracles when they could not scientifically explain why a child was getting better.

    I don't fault you for your beliefs. I do fault you for "blaiming" others for the death of this child. His parents chose to ignore modern medicine, not every person of faith.

    As far as the "foxholes" comment, it was a light-hearted attempt at some humor, not a distraction.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    Cancer patients suddenly going into remission is not a miracle any more than someone getting cancer is a curse. Every credible scientific study has shown that faith has zero healing power (I linked to one). Propagating this this belief (which we know to be false) helps to lay the ground for extremists like this guy. You cannot deny that. There is absolutely a logical connection here. The view of these parents is that God is all powerful and has a plan. Their view is no different than yours except that they take it seriously. They truly believed that God would save their child if that was God's will. They expected a miracle but if one didn't occur, that was the will of the Creator of the Universe. How can you really say that you are entitled to your false facts if they are not entitled to their facts? As I said before, the studied continue to show that faith does not heal people. There will undoubtedly be more studies since people like you continue to believe it does despite the evidence to the contrary. But I am pretty confident that aside from psychological effects (placebo) any future studies will show the same thing... faith does not heal.

    It still amazes me that in a developed nation like this one that some people would continue to hold onto such ridiculous myths in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.

  • Profile picture of Alaina Walton
    Alaina Walton 3 years ago

    Looks like I have a champion! You better watch out, Staks, we ridiculous, open-minded people may just multiply and make the world a better place, or at least rescue it from narrow-mindedness and bigotry!

    BTW, MusicMan, I did get your joke, as I'm sure you got mine when I mentioned my kids. That's the problem when you refuse to acknowledge that the world might just not revolve around you- you tend to lose your sense of perspective...and your sense of humor!

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    Lol, you are unbelievable. Let's dissect this. First, you are claiming that I am narrow-minded because I reject a belief which all the evidence suggests is false. By this reasoning, you would also be narrow-minded because you reject the strong belief that these parents have that their child would be in better care with a perfect God than a flawed human.

    Second, you are claiming that I am a bigot because I don't agree with you that we should continue to believe in something despite all the evidence to the contrary. This isn't just loaded language, it gives power to actual bigots who actually hate people. I do find it funny that the Christian view is that all non-believers ought to be tortured for all eternity in Hell, but I am a bigot... lol.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    Third, Making false and insulting comments that there are no atheists in foxholes when many atheists put their lives on the line for this country every day is hardly a joke. What may I ask is the punchline? Such a joke (if that is what it was) would be an insult to every atheist in the military. It seemed to me to be a distraction from the conversation.

    Forth, your claim about the world revolving around me is comical considering the fact that the entire Christian religion is centered around the view that the entire universe is centered around human beings. God sent his only son to die for us, right? That really is funny. Talk about a sense of perspective.

    Finally, you ignored everything I have stated to continue your personal attacks.

  • ian 3 years ago

    Ive been praying that all the higher primates that believe in something without any actual proof will one day enlighten themselves and join the 21st century.... It, to-date still has not happened.

  • Profile picture of Alaina Walton
    Alaina Walton 3 years ago

    No, I'm calling you narrow-minded for refusing to accept the possibility (held by millions of people of various faiths) that there may just be a higher power. Perhaps I am narrow minded as well. I'll have to think about that, but at least I'm willing to think about it.

    Oh, and not all Christians believe in the eternal tortures of Hell. Christianity, like many of the world's religions, is filled with wonderful nuances. Embrace opinions, my friend, even if you can't "prove" them. It makes for a much more colorful experience.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    First, you are assuming that I have not and will not consider the possibility of a god (let alone your God). This is absolutely not the case. I have spent years considering the possibility and still consider that possibility to some extent. How much time do you spend considering the possibility that Zeus may be the real god? How narrow-minded does that make you? Evidence, critical thinking, and the scientific method may not make for great fiction (although as a science fiction fan I think they do) but they allow us to understand the world around us more clearly.

    Claiming that not all Christians believe in Hell doesn't get you out of this one. First, most Christians do believe in Hell. I have actually met Christians who don't believe in God, but stating that belief in God is part of the Christian view would still be a true statement. Hell is part of Christian doctrine. So while some Christians reject that part of doctrine (and I am glad they do) they would have to account for why they reject that part and not other parts. Still, belief in Hell is something Jesus preached in the Bible and it is probably the most bigoted and hateful belief someone could have. Your claim that I am a bigot because I accept numerous scientific studies is ridiculous. But I don't want your personal attack to change the subject here. Study after study has shown that prayer does not heal.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    You can't seem to argue the facts, you you call me narrow-minded, a bully, and a bigot instead. You talk about relationships vs. science as if the two are mutually exclusive. You have started with your conclusion that faith heals people and hold on to that conclusion despite all the evidence to the contrary. How narrow-minded is that? How self-centered? How self-important that you believe that the universe (God) should bend to your will (Prayer). Yet you are comical enough to accuse me of all those things. You might want to consider looking in the mirror.

  • Profile picture of Music Man
    Music Man 3 years ago

    Relax Staks.

    I didn't come up with the foxhole comment. It's been around for a while. Don't act like I’m insulting any military personnel. You have no idea about me or my family. You can continue to believe what you want, and I will do the same. The bottom line is that some groups of people will always go to the extreme in one way or another. Maybe if the people had seen modern medicine and doctors as gifts from God we wouldn't be having this discussion. The worst part is that a child died for no reason.

    As for the rest of your rants, you need to calm down. If my beliefs are wrong, I will find out eventually. If you are wrong, so will you. No one is telling you what you should or should not believe. Quite honestly, I don’t think most people care.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 3 years ago

    First, just because an ignorant comment has been around for awhile doesn't make it any less ignorant. You comment about there not being any atheists in foxholes is ignorant and insulting to many military atheists. Your personal background doesn't change that unless you are an atheist in the military and that was clear and you were clearly being sarcastic. But alas that is not the case.

    Second, as I have said multiple times now, you are entitled to your beliefs, but not your own facts. The fact is that faith does not heal. Study after study has shown this. Continuing to propogate this myth lays the ground for wackos like these parents who like you and I are entitled to your beliefs (even dangerous ones). You can't say that you are entitled to your beliefs for that these parents are not entitled to their beliefs. They are, but they are also responsible for their beliefs just like you are responsible for your beliefs. The belief that faith heals people is false and dangerous. It laid the ground work for this tragity.

    Third, maybe if these people saw medicine as a gift from God this wouldn't have happened, but maybe if you and others accepted the numerous scientific studies that show that faith doesn't heal people, these people wouldn't have been encouraged in their false belief.

    The scientific method helps us to learn fact from fiction. It may not have all the answers definitively, but it gives us the best guide to how the universe actually works.

  • Profile picture of Via Infinito
    Via Infinito 3 years ago

    If prayer really works, then why won't God heal amputees? Do they just not pray hard enough? Or does He have some sort of bias against maimed individuals? I guess I can understand God not wanting to answer the prayer of a hardened war criminal who lost an arm doing the wrong thing, but what about those poor children who step on landmines and lose both their legs? I guess I just don't understand the discrimination. I wish someone could explain it to me.

    I've been told that God always answers prayers, and those answers are YES, NO and MAYBE. Does he just consistently say NO to the amputees?

  • Martha C Knox 3 years ago

    This has happened before with this exact church 20 years ago: http://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/16/us/measles-and-faith-combine-in-5-deat...

    But I don't see how we can hold the pastor and his preaching accountable. This is a fairly large church and the last deaths were 20 years ago, and according to the articles I just read, while they consider seeking medical treatment sinful, they don't kick their members out for it. I think it is safe to assume that most of the congregants give lip service to this insanity, but when it becomes a life or death situation, especially with their kids, they defy their church's teachings. In this country adults are responsible for their actions. If we start prosecuting people for the stupid things they tell other people to do, where do we draw the line? That just starts to go into a sketchy place as far as the First Ammendment goes. Those parents were adults in a highly educated society. They chose to stay in that church and live by those crazy beliefs. They alone should be held LEGALLY responsible. Morally and ethically, however, the pastor and church as a whole is guilty as friggin' sin.

  • Renx 2 years ago

    Music and Alaina, I'm sure as hell glad you guys can joke around about two parents letting their own child die.
    Don't tell someone to lighten up when the subject matter is a small child dying a needless and painful death-- especially when you're trying to protect the idiots that let him die.

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