A Philadelphia couple who belong to a religious sect that scorns all use of medicine has been charged with the murder of a second child.
The Religion News Blog is reporting that Herbert and Catherine Schaible of the Rhawnhurst section of Philadelphia have been charged with the murder of their seven month-old son, Brandon, who died in April of pneumonia and dehydration after the couple refused to get him medical attention.
This is the second time the couple has been charged with murdering one of their children. In 2009, their two year-old son Trent died from bacterial pneumonia after they refused to take him to a doctor. They were charged with involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment but promised the judge they would never again choose religion over medicine. Their sentence was reduced to 10 years probation and they were required to get regular medical checkups for their remaining seven children.
The couple didn’t live up to their promise and baby Brandon was pronounced dead at the couple’s home last month by paramedics. Once again, they claimed God wanted them to ask him to heal their son and that prayer was the best way to bring about healing.
When the Schaibles appeared in court last week, Judge Benjamin Lerner could hardly suppress his outrage at how the couple had “grossly and disastrously” violated their probation.
“You are not a danger to the community,” Lerner said. “You are a danger to your children.”
The couple’s children have been removed from the home by the Department of Human Services.
The Schaibles attend the 500-member First Century Gospel Church which shuns the use of medicine and teaches that “it is a definite sin to trust in medical help and pills.”
“If we accept Christ as our Savior, we also have to accept him as our healer, because Jesus defeated Satan who causes sickness,” the church teaches. “God wants us to repent of the sin the caused the illness and to trust him alone for the healing.”
These teachings are not Scriptural by any means. The Bible never condemns, forbids, or even discourages the use of medicine or other proper medical care. In fact, one of the Gospels was written by a doctor – St. Luke.
Trusting in God does not mean that we “put him to the test” for our own purposes, which is why the Church considers this kind of “faith healing” to be a sin against the first commandment.
“Tempting God consists in putting his goodness and almighty power to the test by word or deed. Thus Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act. Jesus opposed Satan with the word of God: ‘You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.’ The challenge contained in such tempting of God wounds the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power.” (CCC No. 2119)
As the Catholic Encyclopedia explains: “Faith Healing is an attempt to use Divine power as a natural curative agent that is hindered only by insufficient confidence on the part of the sufferer. A Catholic may not submit himself to faith healing which treats divine power as the automatic servant of calculated acts” (Vol. 4, pg. 215-216 McGraw Hill).