The first time they watched one of their children die an easily preventable death thanks to their religious beliefs (see my original post on this story here), Herbert and Catherine Schaible were convicted of manslaughter but escaped incarceration, instead being sentenced to probation and allowed to retain custody of their children upon promising the judge they would not let another sick child go without medical care.
But now that another innocent child lies dead from their refusal to treat illness with anything other than prayer, Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner has made sure that they are very familiar before the trial with what will hopefully be their new home for many years to come; a jail cell. Calling them a potential flight risk and fearing that religious supporters may harbor and aid them in fleeing from justice, Judge Lerner ordered that the Schaible’s be held without bail.
A judge acknowledged that the couple had never missed a court date in the first case but said he worried that might change amid the more serious charges. And he feared they may have supporters who would harbor them.
“Throughout this country … there are churches like the Schaibles’ whose members and leaders probably don’t think they did anything wrong, and might be willing — to paraphrase the Schaibles’ pastor — to put their interpretation of God’s will above the law,” Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said.
I honestly can not think of a punishment that I feel would be adequate for letting two innocent children die of treatable illnesses because you think your invisible sky daddy will save them if he wants to and damn you to hell if you try to help them yourself. But they need to be in jail, and hopefully after the trial they are convicted of murder and locked away for a long time, not for retribution, but for some form of deterrent to other parents who share the same insane religious beliefs. The state has a vested interest in protecting those who can not protect themselves, and the government needs to make it crystal clear that while freedom of religion is a cherished right in the United States, that freedom ends when the practice of your beliefs harm another citizen. It needs to be known, without question, that while as adults you have the right to refuse medical treatment if you feel your God demands that of you, you do not have the right to sacrifice your minor children at the altar of those beliefs, and that you will be punished to the fullest extent of the law for withholding medical care from your children. Freedom of religion can not be a “get out of child abuse free” card.
“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, 44, told Philadelphia homicide detectives after their ninth child, Brandon, died in April. Medicine, he said, “is against our religious beliefs.”
“He is incarcerated because of his faith,” said lawyer Bobby Hoof, who described client Herbert Schaible’s mindset as resolute.
“He’s strong willed,” Hoof said. “(Yet) he’s mourning this son. He’s hurting as any dad would.”
Bullshit. He is not being incarcerated because of his faith. He is being incarcerated because he let 2 of his children die from easily treatable illnesses. It is not legal in our nation to refuse to provide medical care to your children, no matter the reason. No one will ever force Herbert Schaible to see a doctor. If he wants to rely on God to heal him from illness, that is his right. Once his children are legal adults, if they share his beliefs, they will have the same right. Minor children however can not refuse medical treatment, because they are children and do not have fully developed minds that can comprehend the consequences of the actions. One thing lawyer Hoof said does ring very true though. It is obvious that Herbert Schaible is strong willed. So strong willed that he let two of his children die rather than call a doctor. I will never understand willpower like that. Heartless motherfucker.
They can say that he is mourning his son and hurting like any dad would all that they want and I will never buy it. Perhaps an argument can be made that they really trusted in God to heal the first child that died, but when you already know the end result of refusing to provide medical care for a child is the death of a child, and then continue to refuse to provide that care, I can see you as nothing but human debris.
“I think that we all on the jury thought that it would not happen again, that whatever social and legal institutions needed to be involved in their situation would just take over … and that the mandated visits would be robust enough that they would not be able to do this again,” Vincent Bertolini, 51, a former college professor who served as jury foreman at the Schaibles’ first trial, said Friday. That jury convicted the couple of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.
And yet, another child is dead. And this man is still preaching.
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.
A spiritual lack. If I believed in the soul, I would suggest that Pastor Clark was lacking one.
This story makes me so sick.