Parents Think Medicine is a Sin, Two Children Die

I’m a skeptic. I’m not a perfect skeptic; we all have blind spots. But I try to base decisions I make and beliefs I have on the best evidence available and reevaluate those things often. I don’t have a lot of patience with people who take astrology seriously, or who swear by homeopathy, or who buy into conspiracy theories.

Some people ask me why I get so bent out of shape when people spout this type of ridiculousness. I mean, what harm does it do if someone designs their day around their morning horoscope? What harm comes from wearing a copper bracelet under the misguided assumption that it will align their chi or whatever? I’ll tell you why. This type of thinking doesn’t stop at little idiosyncrasies or affectations. This type of thinking really hurts the most vulnerable among us.

Need an example? Just this week it came out that Herbert and Catherine Schaible lost a child because of their mistaken belief in faith healing. For a second time. That’s right. They’ve tried to pray two of their children back into health; both times it failed.

How’s your life comprehension, Schaibles? Not too good.

Charges have yet to be filed in this case, but the couple was convicted in 2009 of involuntary manslaughter after the death of their two-year-old son. They were sentenced to 10 years probation. The couple’s remaining seven children have now been placed in foster care.

The Schaibles are members of a fundamentalist church that eschews all medicine. It’s evidently a sin. According to the Associated Press:

Herbert Schaible, 44, and his 43-year-old wife grew up in the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia and have served as teachers there. The church’s website has a sermon titled “Healing From God or Medicine?” that quotes Bible verses purportedly forbidding Christians from visiting doctors or taking medicine.

“It is a definite sin to trust in medical help and pills; and it is real faith to trust on the Name of Jesus for healing,” says the message, from last May.

Yeah, it’s a definite sin to take advantage of modern medicine so we don’t die of the flu or the measles. Oh wait. No it isn’t. Because it 2013.

Deaths from faith healing are nothing new. In 2009, a different couple caused the death of their child, this time in Wisconsin. Dale and Leilani Neumann were convicted of reckless homicide following the death of their 11-year-old daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann. Madeline had diabetes, and instead of treating it like any rational adult, her parents prayed to make her well.

She didn’t get well.

The Neumanns are still appealing the case, and a decision is expected this year. I know that I’ll be paying attention.

Need more? Last year Russel and Brandi Bellew plead guilty to negligent homicide in the death of Brandi’s 16-year-old son Austin Sprout. He died of a burst appendix. Austin presented with cold and flu-like symptoms, but instead of, you know, going to a doctor, the Bellews decided to pray. It was super not effective.

I could go on, and on, and on. Despite having no evidence for its efficacy, people continue to believe that if they pray hard enough they can cure diseases. Despite example after example of tragic and preventable deaths, people persist in this belief. Maybe, as these cases gain in prominence, fewer children will die.

Just don’t ask me to keep the faith.


Related Posts:

Faith Healing is Killing People and We’re Letting it Happen

Christian MPs Try to Overturn ‘God Can Heal’ Ad Ban

It’s Official. Jesus Doesn’t Heal Cancer.



d h
d H4 years ago

Mindy Townsend is not an expert on everything. She should speak with Stephen Hawking and the thousands of studied academics who understand the validity of Homeopaethy before giving her unqualified thumbs down on this valuable medical art, taught at thousands of prestigious medical schools across the academically scientifically developed world. I will hereto censor every other offering that bears her name. I am sure she does a great service employing the stable of teenage girls who turn out these papers for her.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin4 years ago

Not one, but two children dead because the parents neglected to seek medical help.
Getting a sentence of ten years probation and keeping the remaining kids, obviously didn't send the correct message. Now, after a second child have died due to bad parenting and no responsibility, the remaining seven children have been placed in foster care. Hopefully those children will get a chance to live into adulthood and the Schaibles (obviously reproducing like rabbits) will be sent to prison. Using religion as a defense should render them ten extra years behind bars!

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

religion is a poison.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia4 years ago

It should be a crime to not give your kid medical care regardless of personal beliefs.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams4 years ago

About 80% of illness, especially in children is self-limiting, something that will go away by itself in a few weeks without any treatment, prayer or mainstream American medicine. Also death and illness due to bad reactions to prescription drugs is definitely among the top ten causes of death in the United States, some sources say 6th place, some third place, a few even claim it is the leading cause of death.

Nikolas Karman
Nikolas K4 years ago

This argument and statements is misleading on two fronts as the real picture is also not being presented. its based onfear mongering to get the sheeples to conform and the truth is that if we ate healthy foods instead of the gm and chemical laden crap no child would die and if it did no modern medicine would help as it was meant to be. Also dying here is not the end its just the beginning of an even better life, how do i know this well i have had three near death experiences and the other side is where i look forward to going to. When I die don't cry for me hold a party because that what i will be doing. The current teachings about death is just more fear mongering to keep us in check for our masters (banksters) if we are asleep.

Lisa Spotswood
Lisa Spotswood4 years ago

I want to believe in the power of prayer, & personally I pray every day, as I'm sure a great many of us do. Having a connection with Christ, makes life more meaningful & easier to bear, with everything one must endure in this world. People that withhold medicine & medical attention from their children are extreme & ignorant in my estimation & I don't believe it be would Christ's will. Zealots of any kind are always tedious!

Christina Robertson
Tina Robertson4 years ago

Two children died needlessly, because their parents decided to use prayer instead of any medical remedy that is abundantly available, this is tragic to say the least.Everyone seems to have an opinion and most are quick to condemn those two parents, but what about the other children? Yes, we have a lot to say about killing children don't we.
I wonder what all the 166 commentators might have to say about the thousands of parents whose children have died needlessly due to a drone bombing, died in the rubble from a bomb drop in their village, shot by a rifle or a machine gun or died from starvation or lack of water. Are those parents guilty of not caring or protecting their children?
Will they say that it is God's will or is it their own fault for being born in a country which has been invaded by a foreign country who needs oil or by radicals who want power, Perhaps some are so poor that their children are being forced to work in horrible conditions, so that we can have the commercially popular items that we don't really need, but want. We are so righteous aren't we? We are so quick to lay blame on anyone, but ourselves or our own society.

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle4 years ago

I have similar arguements with family members about stuff like this. They call it faith. I call it blind and unreasoning. Faith is one thing. This is another. It reminds me of the story where a guy got caught in a flood. A truck, a boat and a helicopter came for him but each opportunity he refused saying God would save him. He died. When he met God on the other side he asked why God failed him. God said, I sent you a truck, a boat and a helicopter. What else should I have done? Don't forget, consciousness is divine. It's just how we use it determines whether we use it for good or bad.

Judie B.
Judie B4 years ago

This is another area where I have trouble with organized religion. A few humans convince other humans that "God believes" this, or "God believes" that, and brainwash them into following like a bunch of sheep (ironically called a "flock.") If God didn't want you to seek medical attention, then doctors would've never been given the ability to research the symptoms and find a cure. The practice of medicine and knowing when to seek help is the process of using the brain God gave us.