Leniency for monsters

I wrote back in December that I had very little confidence in our judicial system in sentencing faith healing parents who are responsible for the deaths of their own children. Lenient sentences happen again and again – and bad parents keep praying for their children instead of seeking real medical help. This recent sentencing isn’t going to help.

Speaking in court, [negligent father] Herbert Schaible asked the judge [Carolyn Engel Temin]for leniency to allow the couple to support their family.

“We are grieving and will always feel the loss of our son,” Schaible said. “With God’s help, this will never happen again.”

Temin sentenced them to 10 years of probation, during which they are required to seek routine and emergency medical care for their seven children, ages 1 through 15.

No, with the help of the judiciary doing its job and discouraging other parents from neglecting their children, this will never happen again. With the help of the legislatures in the 30 states which offer protection for faith healing, this will never happen again. With the eradication of religion, this will never happen again.

Two of the three things I mentioned are within easy reach.

Follow-up: Praying a child to death

I wrote last year of a Pennsylvania couple who prayed their child to death. The 2 year old toddler, Kent Schaible, would have survived if his parents weren’t nut jobs motivated by their religion. We can’t bring Kent back, but the more we convict monsters of praying their kids to death, maybe the fewer kids we see needlessly die.

A fundamentalist Christian couple who relied on prayer, not medicine, to cure their dying toddler son was convicted Friday of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. Herbert and Catherine Schaible of Philadelphia face more than a decade in prison for the January 2009 pneumonia death of 2-year-old Kent.

“We were careful to make sure we didn’t have their religion on trial but were holding them responsible for their conduct,” jury foreman Vince Bertolini, 49, told The Associated Press. “At the least, they were guilty of gross negligence, and (therefore) of involuntary manslaughter.”

The Schaibles, who have six other children, declined to comment as they left the courthouse to await sentencing Feb. 2.

This is great news, but I have very little faith in the system to dole out an appropriate sentence. As we’ve seen in the past, some parents get a slap on the wrist for praying their child to death. I hope to see something more substantial for the Schaibles. After all, the point of the system ought to be to correct the behavior of individuals for the better (as the article said, the Schaibles have 6 other children; any that are very young may be in danger) and to make sure society is safer. If parents think they can get away with praying for their sick children instead of seeking real medical help – 30 states have protections for faith healing – then we’re going to keep seeing awful stories like this because children of religious nut jobs will not be safe.

Another couple prays child to death

A couple from Pennsylvania has prayed their child to death.

A fundamentalist couple who prayed over their sick toddler rather than get medical help before his pneumonia death have been ordered to stand trial on manslaughter charges.

Prosecutors believe 2-year-old Kent Schaible succumbed because his parents chose prayer over modern medicine.

There may be some legitimate defense in this particular case, but there is a more important issue here.

Some states carve out exceptions to criminal neglect statutes for parents who rely on faith or spiritual healing.

These states (including my own) disgust me. Believing in magic is not a license to practice magic, especially when the life of another person is at stake.