Prosecutor: Parents' belief in faith healing led to infant's death
May 24th, 2013
05:22 PM ET

Prosecutor: Parents' belief in faith healing led to infant's death

By Sarah Hoye, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='SarahHoyeCNN']

Philadelphia (CNN)–When Brandon Schaible got a rash, his parents prayed.

When the 7-month-old became irritable with diarrhea and lost his appetite, his parents, Catherine and Herbert Schaible, prayed again.

When Brandon had trouble breathing and gasped for air, his parents called a pastor - this, in spite of the fact that a judge had ordered them to call a doctor.

Brandon Schaible died on April 18 from bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and strep, according to the district attorney’s office – all treatable with antibiotics.

On Wednesday his parents were charged with third-degree murder.

The Schaibles are lifelong members of the First Century Gospel Church in Philadelphia, one of several religious groups in the U.S. that relies on faith, and eschews most medical care.

Founded in 1925, the First Century Gospel Church is an offshoot of Faith Tabernacle Congregation, also in Philadelphia. Both churches believe that God - and God alone - heals the sick.

“Herbert’s a father like anyone else. He’s hurt and he’s mourning the death of his son,” said Bobby Hoof, Herbert Schaible’s attorney. “He’s not snubbing his nose at the court. He’s incarcerated because of his faith.”

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says the Schaibles’ failure to seek medical attention resulted in the death of their son.

“Instead of caring and nurturing him,” Williams said, “they ultimately caused his death by praying over his body instead of taking him to the doctor.”

The Schaibles are also charged with involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child. In April, the couple admitted to police that their son had exhibited symptoms for several days before he died.

On Friday, Court of Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner ordered the Schaibles held without bail out of fear they were a flight risk.

“When this happened the first time around, the Schaibles had every reason to believe that, because of their faith, they had done nothing wrong,” Lerner said. “I know they’re not ‘sophisticated criminals’ … but the circumstances have changed.”

The Schaibles are already on probation for the 2009 death of another son, Kent, who died from bacterial pneumonia. A jury convicted the couple of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced them to 10 years probation.

Lerner said he was concerned that pastors and members in “churches like the Schaibles” would harbor them.

In a media interview last month, Pastor Nelson Clark of the First Century Gospel Church, said the Brandon and Ken Schaible died because of their parents’ “spiritual lack.”

Mythri Jayaraman, Catherine Schaible's attorney, called her a "completely devoted mother."

“The charges suggest a level of callousness that doesn’t fit who Catherine is,” Jayaraman said.

In addition to Pennsylvania, faith healing deaths have been prosecuted in Michigan, Indiana and Massachusetts.

According to Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty (CHILD), a nonprofit child advocacy group, at least 30 children have died since 1971 in Pennsylvania as a result of a parent's refusal to seek medical treatment because of their belief in faith healing.

Among the 30 are six children who died in 1991 from a measles outbreak in Philadelphia, all whom were born into families that belonged to either First Century Gospel Church or Faith Tabernacle.

“It’s a terrible conflict for these parents. They love their children and can see their child suffering,” said Rita Swan, president of CHILD. “If the laws were clearer, many of these parents would be relived of the pressure. As for the Schaibles, they are remarkably stubborn and extreme.”

Swan began advocating for the removal of religious exemptions from immunizations and parental legal requirements after her son Matthew died in 1977 from bacterial meningitis. She and her husband had relied on Christian Science practitioners to heal him.

“The poor child couldn’t lift an arm,” Swan said. “We prayed, we went to the practitioner. We trusted them.”

For members of faith-healing sects, it is common to believe that sickness is a result of unresolved sin or lack of faith, said Anthea Butler, a professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Faith-healing sects often interpret the Bible literally, citing, for example, Psalm 103: “Bless the Lord, O my soul … Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.”

First Century Gospel Church’s website reinforces that theme, citing the New Testament’s Book of Acts, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name, and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.”

Other religious groups believe that God can heal the sick, and many believers pray to be delivered from illness. The difference is that they, unlike the Schaibles, often seek medical attention in addition to prayer, Butler said.

First Assistant District Attorney Edward McCann says the Schaibles’ actions, not beliefs, are the problem.

“How many kids have to die before it becomes an extreme indifference to the value of human life?” McCann asked. “They killed one child already.”

If convicted of third-degree murder in Brandon’s death, the Schaibles could face a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison, Lerner said. They also face an additional 7 to 14 years if a judge decides to revoke their probation in Kent’s death.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christian Science • Christianity • Crime • Culture & Science • Faith & Health

soundoff (2,002 Responses)
  1. tony

    @Chad needs to be taken to a group of doctors immediately. Our lives are in danger from him.

    May 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  2. Heretic

    They should convict the pastor too as an accessory.

    May 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  3. Heretic

    About time. How many more children have to be murdered by Christians?

    May 25, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  4. Bostontola

    This is the worst. Parents are totally responsible for the safety of their children. When religious belief gets out of control to the point where parents are a threat to their own children, something has to be done. This is a case where we can't wait for evolution to weed them out.

    May 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  5. Chad

    The bible nowhere says that doctors are not to be consulted

    The bible is replete with faith filled men being cared/nursed thru illness by their fellow man
    The bible is replete with faith filled men being miraculously healed by God.

    May 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      It doesn't specifically say, don't consult doctors, but for some weak-minded people, some of the passages could be misleading, don't you think?

      For example, the bible repeatedly calls for faith and trust in god and praises those who exercise faith as "righteous." It also goes on to claim that if you ask ANYTHING in his name, it will be given. And if that's not enough, just having the faith of a mustard seed can move mountains. Most kids growing up hoping some radioactive spider is going to give them super powers.... some just never grow out of that phase.

      May 25, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Brandon

      Gee – do you think sometime before Christianity fades into obscurity in the developed world they will ever speak with one opinion on any one subject? Track record says fat chance.

      May 25, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Doug

      Mainly because the bible pre-dates modern medical doctors. The bible does a p!ss poor job of predicting the future too, given that it is the supposed word of a god.

      And how come god can't be more consistent re faith healing. Funny how it does about as well as random chance. Might make you start to think that your god doesn't exist, but only if your brain is correctly functioning.

      May 25, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Doug

      Chad, you've made claims of faith healing presented in the bible. Can you present any evidence for your claims that can be examined, external to the bible?

      Otherwise, you are just doing circular reasoning, claiming the bible as proof of its own claims, and if that is all you are doing, then you should grow some balls and retract your specious claims. Or just remain a gutless idiot. Your call. Evidence please.

      May 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Rachel

      Come on Chad, give them a comeback. One for the me team 🙂

      May 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Chard doesn't believe circular reasoning exists.

      May 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Chad

      Modern day Christians arent the only ones that saw their prayers "not answered in the way that they wanted God to answer them".

      I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians

      As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Galatians 4

      Look, it's very simple. God is real, and has His will. Many Christians have been sold the lie that if God doesnt do what you want, it's because you lack "faith"

      We get frustrated when He wont do what we want Him to do.

      What we need to do, is find out what He wants and get in agreement with that.

      May 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Chad

      and absolutely I have personally seen and experienced healing
      and absolutely I have been frustrated when my own physical issues and the ones of my family members havent been miraculously healed.

      But, that's reality. God is not a vending machine. We dont get to walk up and hit "G8" whenever we want it..

      May 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Rachel

      Chad you and I both know your family members hate your guts, so don't drag them into your fantasies, they have already rejected you, tough.

      May 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Brandon

      Chad mused – "find out what He wants "

      and trust in the same pizz-poor mutilated folkore that so obviously conjured up this god to help you find that out of course... LOL

      May 25, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What is ironic about Chard's words is that the couple whose child died thought they WERE doing what their god wanted. Their minister thought so, too. What makes them any more delusional than you are, Chard?

      May 25, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Sammy

      If you don't get want you want out of prayer, why do it, and why assume that it's any indication that there is a God up there listening even. It all sounds just random and looks like the exact same results would fit there not being any God doing anything, which would be a simpler answer than some God who picks and chooses whose prayers to answer positively.

      May 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "God is not a vending machine. We dont get to walk up and hit "G8" whenever we want it.."
      You're just hitting the wrong keys. Try H8.

      May 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Al

      "What we need to do, is find out what He wants and get in agreement with that."
      And to find out what "He" supposedly wants we need to listen to folks like you, is that how it works? If I think God wants something, and you disagree, then we each end up believing that the other doesn't really know what God wants. The other solution is that we're both wrong, which could mean that we're just wrong here, or that there actually isn't any God. Your statement here doesn't help one bit.

      May 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Doug

      Chad, I asked you very clearly for evidence, and instead, you waffled and dodged. Furthermore, claims of "personal experience", particularly when no details are presented, are pathetic and do not qualify as evidence. You've had your chance. So, I can and do now declare:

      Chad is a gutless idiot.

      I'm sure that conclusion won't surprise many posters here.

      May 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Al

      Ancient myths are replete with faith filled men being miraculously healed by other gods, and there are modern stories of faith healers actually tricking people using slight of hand. Why do you consider the Bible stories credible?

      May 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Sue

      Doug, religion is sort of self-selecting for idiots. Chad is definitely one example of that.

      May 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Chad

      @Sammy "If you don't get want you want out of prayer, why do it, and why assume that it's any indication that there is a God up there listening even. "

      =>Judeo/Chrisianity isnt a "self-help" program, it's a simple acknowledgement that the God of Israel is real.
      Since He hears prayers, we pray.

      May 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • Doug

      Chad has been certified to be a gutless idiot.

      May 25, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Chard, what part of this do you not grasp? The Schaibles prayed. They did it over and over while their children got sicker and died. Did your god hear them? Why did he not tell them to take their children to a doctor?

      May 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Chad

      I'm sure God heard their prayers.
      I'm sure God DID "tell" then to take their child to a Doctor.

      Biggest problem with all of us, we just dont listen.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Hahahahahahaa! Oh, you are sure, are you? That your god answered and told them what to do and they didn't listen? You really are such a fvcking hypocrite.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Chad

      They didnt listen just exactly like I dont listen... Every Christian (except One) has the same failing.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Have you neglected your children, Chard? Why not? If your god's word is so clear, how could these folks fail to care for their children, yet believe they were being faithful followers? How do you know that they WEREN'T? Maybe your god wanted their children to die.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Yes, Chad. It's best to listen to the clear voice of reason. Listening for God, well there's no telling what you'll imagine in all that white noise and stuff.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Chad

      This notion that the "bible isnt authentic because many Christians use it to justify activities that are un-Godly" is nonsense on a couple different levels

      1. The entire biblical narrative is the fallen condition of man. The fact that man continues to be fallen, is hardly surprising. We arent in heaven now.
      2. The bible itself clearly states that man kind suffers because we are deceived, because we do not listen to Gods voice.

      There is simply only one answer, that is to humbly ask God for understanding.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • The real Tom

      So, Chard, just to clarify, you think the Schaibles used the Bible to kill their kids. Is that about right?

      May 25, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Do you think the Schaibles were looking for an excuse to kill their children, and seized on the bible as an "easy out" for doing so?

      Or do you, as most normal people do, think they really believed that they were following god's will and were absolutely sure about it because they'd prayed and prayed? Be careful how you answer, Chard.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Chad


      A. You are an extremely repulsive individual, what in the world happened to you?
      B. I am sure that those parents loved their child and thought they were doing the right thing.
      C. Like all of us that "see thru a glass dimly" now, they misunderstood the Word, with tragic consequences.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:40 pm |

    • You know what that means Chad? If mankind continues to fall, it must be in orbit around something. Or else we're in a Beatles song:

      Falling, yes I am falling
      And she keeps calling
      me back again
      Yeah, pa pa pa

      Falling, yes I am falling
      And she keeps calling
      me back again

      May 25, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I win. If Chard thinks I'm "repulsive", it's a sure sign that he doesn't have an answer. But, being the egotistical little turd he is, he never can say "I don't know." That would mean admitting he's not the CHARD he'd like us all to think he is.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Leave off real Tom, Chad. She's a critic you should listen to, but obviously don't.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I wonder, Chard, if you can bring yourself to say a single honest thing. Can you admit that these folks and their kids would have been better off had they NEVER read the bible or gone to church? Their kids might very well be alive today if they'd been atheists.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Chard, if your god's word is so clear and it's impossible to follow it and do wrong, how did these people manage it? How could they POSSIBLY have misunderstood the bible if it's such a great guide to life? How could ALL the people who belong to that church, along with its pastor, have believed completely that the Schaibles were following the commandments your god made? Does it EVER occur to you that YOU don't know what god means, either? That you don't have the message right either?

      May 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I do find it amusing that when the Chard's really worked up, he puts his answers in outline form. I'm waiting for him to start using bullet points. What a dweeb.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      To be fair, Chad's whipped up his own God (tries to pass it off as the God of Israel). The Schaibles' God, originating in different imaginations, is probably different in a lot of ways.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Sammy

      "Since He hears prayers, we pray."
      Dogs can hear our prayers too. I still fail to see the point of doing it.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Samuel, Chard, like many people, confuse hearing with listening.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Edit: confuses, not confuse.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Chad's God is like a pox virus that's very contagious (or tries to be), but not too sever in its effects. The Schaibles' God is like a pox virus that doesn't transmit very well, but is often lethal. What we need to look out for is when Chad's God starts picking up parts from the Schaibles' God.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • Sammy

      "There is simply only one answer, that is to humbly ask God for understanding."
      What are you talking about? Isn't it the Christian understanding that it's either God's way, or the Hell way? Your God doesn't give "understanding" to any behavior that isn't up to his standard.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • The real Tom

      @TTTOO, thanks, by the way. I value your opinion and appreciate the compliment.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chad ""Since He hears prayers, we pray.""
      @Sammy "Dogs can hear our prayers too. I still fail to see the point of doing it."

      @Chad "
      A. Only if you speak them out loud
      B. They dont know what you are saying
      C. They cant do anything about it.

      praying to your dog is as effective as praying to a stone idol.. useless..

      The God of Israel hears, understands, and is the ONLY one that can do anything about it.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Looks like Chard has resorted to his usual modus operandi and has retreated to his hole.

      Wonder what topic is next up in the Chard-o-dex?

      May 25, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "The God of Israel hears, understands, and is the ONLY one that can do anything about it."

      So, then, Chard-o, were the Schaibles praying to the 'wrong' god? Why didn't the right one do "anything about it'?

      May 25, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Chard, the Schaibles were certain they were doing what god commanded. So are you. What makes you any different than the Schaibles.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Chad

      I am sure that those parents loved their child and thought they were doing the right thing.
      Like all of us that "see thru a glass dimly" now, they misunderstood the Word, with tragic consequences.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • midwest rail

      How in the world could they have thought they were doing the right thing when the EXACT same thing happened to their first child ? That makes absolutely no sense. None.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It seems more like the Schaibles love their God and thought they were doing the right thing, Chad. Very sad. The child was real. The God is not.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Chad, If humankind is such a disappointment to its creator why didn't it start again from scratch not that half-hearted Noah massacre. Realistically it would only have meant killing a few more humans and two more of each of the other animals than it already allegedly did, and mistakes could have been rectified – no talking snake, make a pair of humans, etc.
      According to the bible that's less than two days work.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Vegetable, you think YOU are following God's word, too. How do you know that your interpretation is correct and theirs was not? Maybe you are wrong about what God says about your kids.

      May 25, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • The real Tom

      If you think those parents loved their child, Chard, then how could they have allowed it to die? If they were praying in all sincerity to God for help, why did your God allow their mistake to kill their child? If they were truly asking for God's help, why did he ignore their ignorance? Why, if God is the author of all life, did he give these people ANOTHER kid to kill when they'd already murdered another one?

      Why don't you get it, Chard?

      May 25, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chad "There is simply only one answer, that is to humbly ask God for understanding."
      Sammy "What are you talking about? Isn't it the Christian understanding that it's either God's way, or the Hell way? Your God doesn't give "understanding" to any behavior that isn't up to his standard."

      @Chad "Gods way or the highway, yes.
      so, we need understanding from God to recognize the right way..

      no idea what your "doesn't give "understanding" to any behavior that isn't up to his standard." is all about...

      May 25, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • What Chad knows

      Chad knows those babies are with Jesus now. Everything's fine.

      May 25, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "so, we need understanding from God to recognize the right way.."

      Don't you think the Schaibles did their best to "recognize the right way", Chard? Why didn't they? Why didn't their pastor? Why didn't their congregation?

      Do you ever think that maybe you're just as wrong as they are? How do you know that YOUR recognition of the "right way" isn't just as flawed as theirs?

      Why would your god allow humans to be so confused by his word? Why would he allow innocents to die because he didn't make his meaning clear?

      Or maybe he did and you're the one who is wrong, Chard. It's just as plausible an explanation as any you've proposed.

      May 25, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  6. I think the parents did the 2 kids a favor.

    Imagine if the kids had lived and had to grow up in the home/religious hell the parents would have provided for them.

    May 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Just imagine what Chard's kids have gone/are going through.

      May 25, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • I think the parents did the 2 kids a favor.

      I just realized that If hadn't broken with my parents and rejected their religion, I could have very easily have grown up to be Chad

      May 25, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  7. EnjaySea

    That poor baby didn't deserve these imbecilic numbskulls for parents, and these parents clearly didn't deserve to have children.

    May 25, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  8. Over 40,000 sects of insanity

    The craziness of in some Christian belief seems to grow only crazier as time goes by. And when incidents like the subject of this article come to light, other Christians are only too ready to explain how another Christian's interpretation of ancient "scripture" is not quite right. Hands down, the most hypocritical people on the planet.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one (over 4,000,000 members) in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    Some believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Some believe Obama is the Anti-Christ.

    Some believe that celibacy is the only option for certain people, or for people in certain positions. Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but pretend not to understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of Lutheran CMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create more extreme divisions as time goes by, constantly subjecting others in its crossfire.

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    (Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785)

    May 25, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  9. The Central Scrutinizer

    Your walls fall down around you.
    Blind blind blind
    You drink your poison and rejoice in the slow death
    Hug and hold hands in your pact with ignorance
    The smiling man has a reason to smile
    You do not
    You are a dead.
    Reception in the lobby

    May 25, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  10. ME II

    Variation on the boats and helicopter story.

    A religious man is on top of a roof during a great flood. Oddly, around the same time, two boats and a helicopter show up at about the same time and offer to take him to safety. Recognizing the spirit of God in all things, the man says, "God has granted this miracle", chooses one of the boats, and gets in. Half way to dry land the boat sinks the man drowns.

    Upon meeting St. Peter in heaven, the man asks why, since he recognized the miracle offered by God, did he drown anyway. St. Peter chuckles and responds, "I don't know what you're complaining about, we sent you one boat and a helicopter. It's not our fault if you chose the one boat we didn't send."

    p.s. I'm sure it was a First Century Gospel Church boat.

    May 25, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  11. The Central Scrutinizer

    Kindly remove my head, as for my kind, leaving the head can lead to undesirable things.

    Please hang my body thusly in the forest. The critters that scurry below me and above me can nourish their hungry kittens.

    Watch over my family for they will surely lose their minds and harm you. Put them away and lock them behind many locks.

    Then forget me for I am not worth your memories. I am religion. I am terror.

    May 25, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  12. mama k

    Some videos I recently watched – both very thought-provoking:

    Bill Moyers interviews Daniel Dennett, an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, science & biology. He is a professor of philosophy at Tufts University:


    In the video, Dennett says that not for all, but for many, the dangerous thing about religion is that "it gives people a gold-plated excuse to stop thinking."

    and . . .

    Sam Harris on Christianity. Harris is an American author, philosopher, and neuroscientist. He holds a PhD in in cognitive neuroscience from UCLA:


    May 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Science

      You know faith you are stuck in a big pile GREEN SLIME with NO horn-y red devil to save your ass.

      May 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |

      Agree ...............mama k............. everybody do a simple search for Prof. Higgs............the church hates that .

      A box does not work well for thinking.............think outside the box at http:/ted.com/talks


      Hey faith/chad... and sally too........Thanks have a great life.






      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN








      May 25, 2013 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |

      May 25, 2013 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |

      Hey doogie you too !

      Hey Chad,faith the peach and all creationists what color JELL- O you stuck IN. ? Star Dusts (chondrites) and water !

      Scientists Offer First Definitive Proof of Bacteria-Feeding Behavior in Green Algae

      May 23, 2013 — A team of researchers has captured images of green alga consuming bacteria, offering a glimpse at how early organisms dating back more than 1 billion years may have acquired free-living photosynthetic cells. This acquisition is thought to have been a critical first step in the evolution of photosynthetic algae and land plants, which, in turn, contributed to the increase in oxygen levels in Earth's atmosphere and ocean and provided one of the conditions necessary for animal evolution.



      Game over .................god(s) did NOT create US !

      NO red horn-y devil either........ NEVER has been one.!

      The DINOSAUR ?...............Chomp Chomp !...Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the

      HELL out of the way.....................Stem Cell research !

      Allosaurus Fed More Like a Falcon Than a Crocodile: Engineering, Anatomy Work Reveals Differences in Dinosaur Feeding Styles

      May 21, 2013 — The mighty T. rex may have thrashed its massive head from side to side to dismember prey, but a new study shows that its smaller cousin Allosaurus was a more dexterous hunter and tugged at prey more like a modern-day falcon.



      Better than Comedy GOLD................it is THE PEARLY GATES !.............what a JOKE !

      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN


      Hey freed you to...........go now you are free to take a wild walk where the BEAR sh-its fred !

      soundoff (2,965 Responses)


      say good bye perverts

      May 25, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply


      sambo tom science bill nye

      u r finished u filthy animal

      May 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |


      You know faith you are stuck in a big pile GREEN SLIME with NO horn-y red devil to save your ass.

      Hey Chad/faith too.................Thanks Bob peace

      add it to your favorites tool bar !



      May 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |

      May 25, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |


      May 25, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply


      May 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  13. Where is your Gold now?

    When Brandon Schaible got a rash, his parents prayed.

    May 25, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Science

      But the fairy in the sky NEVER created gold you know.


      May 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  14. The Central Scrutinizer

    If you stretch the skin back just enough you can see where the lies are kept. Not many lies, but one can mix and match to suit the skinly suit

    The really good stuff is kept here but you are not allowed to enjoy that part. That is for tomorrow.
    That is for never ever and that is tomorrow so knives and forks Up! Heads Up!
    You sir are asked to leave. It the nature of things here so please don’t drone on about your reservation.
    All in due time and with the right socks
    The tender cheek once in a life once in life once in a life once in a life

    May 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  15. LinCA

    Isn't it amazing that the christian god listens to the prayers, and grants requests of people who pray for the doctors to be capable, at a far higher rate than those that expect this god to do the heavy lifting himself?

    Maybe this god favors smart people, like the doctors, over dimwits like the Schaibles. Maybe this god feels that the use of his powers provide a better rate of return by providing a few with the ability, and willingness to help humanity than to provide medical services for the masses, himself.

    On the other hand, maybe this god isn't real.

    May 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  16. gorp

    They think god will heal their sick child but rely on legal professionals to defend them in court.

    May 25, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Very perceptive.


      May 25, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "They think god will heal their sick child but rely on legal professionals to defend them in court."
      I'd be surprised if they recognize the jurisdiction of the court, and wouldn't be surprised if the tax payers are picking up the bill for their defense.

      May 25, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      LinCA: I would say that given how they ignored the conditions of the 10 year probation order they don't care about the justice system's authority. They simply should never have been given a second chance.

      May 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Truth Prevails :-)

      You said, "I would say that given how they ignored the conditions of the 10 year probation order they don't care about the justice system's authority."
      Agreed. That was, in part, the basis for my assertion about their stance on the judicial system.

      You said, "They simply should never have been given a second chance."
      Very true. Unfortunately, because as a society we value individual freedom (which is a good thing), we are reluctant to classify this behavior as a mental illness. Without acknowledging this behavior as an illness, there is very little we can do to prevent it. Even if we were to acknowledge the root cause, the problem arises when you try to draw a line. What religious behavior is acceptable if we say that some is not. People should be free to be as ignorant as they want, but that leaves us very little room to prevent these tragedies. Even repeat tragedies like this one, because we have to allow for these dimwits to "see the light".

      If their remaining children aren't placed in protective custody, and the parent serve long sentences for double homicide, the justice system will have failed.

      May 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  17. Really-O?

    Is anyone else a bit annoyed that comments are closed for the May 23rd, 2013 article posted by John Stemberger entitled "My Take: Why my family is quitting the Boy Scouts" in which he exposes his blatant bigotry?

    May 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Yep. This guy is allowed to post what is nothing more than blatant bigotry without any chance of rebuttal. CNN should play fair or not play at all.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Brandon

      Yes, most odd. There are some CNN stories that are virtually duplicated where one is in the BB and the other is elsewhere where, if it allows comments, they are done so via Discus. It is odd that they would place that one in the BB and then not allow comments.

      May 25, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Is anyone else a bit annoyed that comments are closed for the May 23rd, 2013 article posted by John Stemberger entitled "My Take: Why my family is quitting the Boy Scouts" in which he exposes his blatant bigotry?"

      I suspect the comments were closed at the request of the author, because if comments means clicks, means ad revenue, it isn't in the best financial interest of CNN to not allow comments on that piece of garbage.

      I'm guessing the author can dole it out, but is too chickenshit to take it. Aside from being a hateful, ignorant bigot, he's probably a coward, too.

      He's an ambulance chaser. You can contact him at his law office:
      4853 South Orange Avenue
      Orlando, FL 32806
      Phone: (800) 842-4761
      Fax: (407)251-0023

      May 25, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Thank you for that information LinCA. 🙂

      May 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  18. PsiCop

    OK, so this couple was charged with killing a second child and will be tried again. But ... what about the judge who essentially left them unpunished for having killed one child previously? It wouldn't have taken rocket science to figure, even then, that any child in the Schaibles' care is essentially doomed. Why did that judge not take their children away, then? And what about PA child-care workers who were supposed to have monitored the Schaible family? Where were they? What were they doing? Looking the other way, it seems. All of these folks need to be hauled into court and tried for conspiracy to kill ... because that's what they did, they conspired to kill poor Brandon Schaible.

    May 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      They were on 10 years probation and strictly instructed on how to handle the situation properly if it happened again. They should never have been released the first time. I would also be blaming the pastor who would have known the initial conditions and still enabled them...he is as culpable as they are. The parents don't look like they're all there anyways and I doubt the Mom had the mental capacity to comprehend her actions.

      May 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  19. tallulah13

    So what you are saying, RB, is that your all-powerful god watched this child suffer, listened to the prayers of his parents, and just ignored it (for the second time in this very family) and let the child die. But it's okay, because he'll judge the parents after they die Of course, if they are truly contrite, they might just be forgiven anyway.

    This is the sort of "reasoning" that creates atheists.

    May 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Brandon


      May 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Whoops. That was for Rainer Braendlein on another page. I forgot to hit "reply".

      May 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein


      Imagine God would always descend from heaven when you are about to commit a sin or heavy sin (crime) in order to prevent you from sinning or committing a crime. Ain't I right that this would mean a serious circu-mcision of your freedom? There must be space for us to reveal our truest self, if we have a wicked or a good heart.

      God "could not" save Brandon because then he had violated the dignity of his parents to be free.

      Of course, other people who knew of the Schaibles misbehaviour should have admonished them, should even have alienated Brandon from his family.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Roger that


      You are about as wacky as these parents.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "God "could not" save Brandon because then he had violated the dignity of his parents to be free. "

      So this is a 7 month old child's fault??? Wow Rainer, you have a very screwed up way of looking at things. His parents and the pastor they ineptly called in are the only ones responsible here. No parent who prays over their child should EVER have the right to parent again.
      This is what proves that prayer doesn't work and it proves why religion is so dangerous.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Rainer Braendlein:

      What a crock. Why would you have us believe that your god is so powerful when all you can do is make excuses for him?
      There are a thousand ways your god could have saved this child without "descending from heaven". But according to you, saving this child would have "violated the dignity of his parents to be free. " What does that even mean?

      What a crock. What a stupid, unbelievable crock.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  20. The Central Scrutinizer

    There is almost nothing I would not do to save my children. Short of harming other innocent people, no sacrifice would be too great. Nothing.

    These parents are sick deluded Christians and extermination is not punishment enough. Those poor helpless children. We all weep for them.

    May 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein


      You make a mistake. The Schaibles are no Christians at all but sectarists.

      What is their heresy?

      They desecrate the Holy Sacramental Baptism which is the most important rite of true Christianity. And they were given up, and became so wicked that they even murdered their own son.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      No Rainer Braendlein. They are just as christian as you. They just have a different interpretation of the same book. That's the problem with christianity - it's based on a book full of contradictions, a book that can be interpreted in as many ways as there are readers.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Brandon

      I wish I had a nickel for every time one Christian says some other one is not a Christian here. It's what allows all of them, collectively, to get by with so much. There is no single Christian conscience or accountability which is especially warranted when someone is making big claims about things like salvation, judgment of others, etc. Lunacy, all of it.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      They probably said something like: " this is a test...God is testing us to see if we ll cave in and forsake him – and trust man's medicine" ...and they kept saying it right up the point the poor kid's heart stopped.

      If your religion is more important than peoples' lives , you might want to take a moment to question your priorities, your religion, and the people selling you your religion and their motives and gains for doing so.

      But people, certainly these folks, are scared to death of questioning the madness.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.