Father charged in son’s faith healing death remains jailed

Herbert Schaible, charged — together with his wife, Catherine — with third degree murder in the faith healing death of their 7-month old son1 has been denied bail.

Update: Catherine Schaible will be released from prison on house arrest. NBC 10 Philadelphia reports her father “will post 10% of the $250,000 bail to free his daughter. She will then live with him under electronic monitoring as she awaits.”

Sources have told the Philadelphia Daily News that Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner is leaning toward releasing the mother on bail.

Lerner blocked the Rhawnhurst couple’s ability to post bail because they violated probation terms of their 2011 involuntary manslaughter convictions in the death of another son, Kent, 2, who also succumbed to bacterial pneumonia without medical care. Their sentence required them to get regular medical care for their children.

The couple’s seven remaining children have been placed in foster care.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible are members of the First Century Gospel Church, which teaches that a person’s salvation depends on trusting God to heal without medical help or medicine.

Former members of the church refer to it as a cult.

Controversial Church distancing itself

The Philadelphia Inquirer says Lerner refused to release Herbert Schaible after he was described Thursday as “domineering and overbearing” in a letter by First Century Gospel Church pastor Nelson A. Clark.

It appears that Clark is trying to distance his controversial church from the couple.

However, as pastor of the congregation, Clark is directly responsible for the unbiblical nonsense preached there — by himself and others — with regard to faith healing:

First Century Gospel Church

The Inquirer says

Discussing Clark’s letter in court, [Assistant District Attorney Joanne] Pescatore gave no indication of why it was written or its significance within the insular church.

The letter could indicate division in the church hierarchy about the case. It could also be an attempt to buttress Catherine Schaible’s case to be released and able to visit her children.

Clark attended the Schaibles’ first trial in 2010 and spoke on their behalf after they were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Kent Schaible’s death.

Clark, however, was not the clergyman in the house praying with the Schaibles when their sons died. That was Assistant Pastor Ralph Myers.

The Daily News reports

First Century Assistant Pastor Ralph Myers said that although the church teaches its members to put their faith in God for healing, members have sought medical care and not been shunned. The Schaibles, he said, would not have suffered repercussions had they taken Brandon to a doctor.

“The belief is that if we misplace our trust on anything but God, then we betray God,” said Myers, who went to the family’s Rhawnhurst home to pray for Brandon the day before he died.

Our View

It is not uncommon to see spiritually-abusive churches engage in this type of ‘wobbling’ regarding firmly stated beliefs once legal issues arise. All of a sudden, getting medical help is not — as preached — a matter of losing one’s salvation, and the practice of shunning is suddenly denied.

Such hypocrisy should send a clear message to all those who attend the church.

Learn more about faith healing
Spiritual abuse & abusive churches: what you should know


  1. Some media reports say the child was 8 months old at the time of his death, while others say he was 7 months old
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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday June 21, 2013.
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