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An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Five)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/02/01


An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. She discusses: Arizona chapter of the Temple of Satan in the United States; differences of belief and punishment; reversing the reality as a thought experiment; irreligion and politics; the next steps for the humanist community and the Humanist party in the Philippines; being misunderstood; Atheist Republic consulate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; offending religious feelings; tacit theocracy and democracy; politics and gender/sex in the Philippines; Canadian beliefs in the supernatural; women dying without reproductive health rights implemented; birth rate; women as less than equal; expected challenges of an early politics party; dogma and catma; religion with men in power; compounded chauvinism of the religion; some women being used and not seeing it; the priest; the need to be tough as an irreligious leader; the use of humour; and the return to unquestioned authority.

Keywords: HAPI, humanism, Marissa Torres Langseth, PATAS, Philippines.

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N.: Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI (Part Five)[1],[2],[3],[4]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: I was talking to the Arizona chapter of the Temple of Satan in the United States.

Marissa Torres Langseth: Really? There’s a temple, okay.

Jacobsen: They have a set of beliefs. They follow them. I take them seriously. So, Michelle Short is the chapter leader and Stuart De Haan, or Stu, is the spokesperson. When I talked to them, they made an important and clear point to me about American culture.

In particular, the American Christian community such as the Evangelical community in relation to the larger culture. One of the things was when the Evangelical Christians don’t get 100% of their way 100% of the time, then they play the victim.

But they not only play the victim, they are the ones generally bullying others. So, they become the bully-victim. So, it’s a certain pathology. I agree with the observation. I see that you say you offended me and, therefore, I’m going to somehow demonize you or throw epithets at you.

The extreme example (from Islamists) “you hurt my feelings, so I’m going to shoot up the cartoonists.” You are now the perpetrators of open violence and the victims are the ones that are blamed.

But a larger phenomenon that I can generalize is that Christians in America get so much of their way so much of the time, down to the Pledge of Allegiance, that when they don’t get their way in even a single state or municipality within a state, they react.

Sometimes violently, other times judicially, or sometimes socially by bullying whether in person or online, as you’ve experienced both apparently.

Langseth: Yes, it’s funny. I’m laughing at these people really. I don’t get affected anymore. I used to be emotional and could not even sleep. But now, I’m laughing at them. In fact, David Silverman approached me.

A few years ago when I was in PATAS, I joined the Blackout Secular Rally. It’s like a colored rally. I was there. We had a table too. He approached me and asked if I could speak to the AA group at the convention.

I said, “I’ll get killed if I do that” [Laughing]. I made a lot of enemies already. He said, “If nobody is hating you, you’re not doing the right thing.” That’s what he said.

2. Jacobsen: That’s always a good response. If someone is getting mad at you for critiquing or doing something different, just say, “Look, I didn’t kill him. There’s no reason to crucify me for having a different set of beliefs.”

Langseth: Right, exactly, he is right because: why are these people trying to kill me? Why are they mad at me? I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m on social media promoting my society and coming out as an atheist.

But hey, I have a good marriage. I help a lot. Why are they angry with me? He said, because you’re doing the right thing, you’re doing right.

3. Jacobsen: Even take the reverse case: imagine if a humanist was offended, and many have a right to be, and they threaten violence, how would the authorities react?

They would probably be jailed. In some cultures, even many cultures, if the humanist was killed for threatening violence by the public as a citizen-based retribution for threatening violence, I suspect the authorities would be in favor of it.

Those thought experiments of reversing the examples are likely instructive as to the religious privilege that most mainline religions have in the cultures that they happen to inhabit or have grafted themselves onto.

Langseth: This is why when I was in the Philippines I told you that I had 2 security guards. I asked the Filipino humanists, “Aren’t you guys afraid if they find out we have this book that they will come after you?”

I said, “I will be going to the USA, so I’m not afraid. But what about you guys?” They said we’re not afraid.

Jacobsen: Why not?

Langseth: They’re not afraid. We use real names. Nobody uses a dummy account. We removed the dummy accounts in that book. Whatever you see in that book, they’re all real human beings. And they said they’re not afraid. I said, “I’m afraid for you.” I told them.

Jacobsen: I’m afraid for you [Laughing].

Langseth: That’s what I told them! They said, “You shouldn’t be afraid for us. We are going to be okay.” I’m glad because of the other atheists in Malaysia and Indonesia. They’re being persecuted. They’re going to get killed.

They’re being beheaded. They’re being thrown in prison. I’m glad in the Philippines that it’s not coming to that yet. I don’t know in the future. We are under the radar right now.

4. Jacobsen: When it comes to the politics in the Philippines, the outside image is that there’s a lot of chaos going on with President Duterte, who was voted in, but it might leave some humanists concerned, irreligious people in general, who are in the country or those who have loved ones in the country but who are not themselves in the country.

What has been your experience while there even though you are based in New York?

Langseth: While I was there, I was a little bit afraid when I went home. A little bit. Because I’m a Filipino, they’ll still admit me, but I was hoping that nobody will take me; the people there, because I am an activist.

But everything was so smooth. I had my own agenda. I had my own itinerary for how, where, and what I was going to do in the country. Everything went perfectly. It was so peaceful even in those towns. It was peaceful.

Of course, we did not go to Manila now. It may not be that way now with the chaos. So, this is my hunch. People from the US or from another country think that it is dangerous because of wrong info.

One example is my husband woke me up at 2 o’clock in the morning. Of course, there’s a 12-hour difference. He woke me up at 2 o’clock in the morning telling me not to go to Manila because ISIS was there.

So, that’s what he said because that’s what they heard from CNN. He’s worried because I’m in the Philippines. I’m going to Manila that day. So, out of curiosity, I called some people in Manila.

They said, “No, that’s wrong information.” There was a guy who lost lots of money in the resort world. Of course, the news was wrong. It was wrong. That was why people from the USA were mad at CNN for a while.

In fact, my husband was so mad with that also because he alerted me. He called me, and everybody at home, at 2 o’clock in the morning. That’s what I’m saying. When information is sent wrong, the people become angry. They become afraid.

That is the reason why. They were too afraid. To be honest with you, my husband didn’t go with me because he said they could kidnap me, his wife. They stole his wife. That’s why he didn’t come with me to the Philippines.

So, politically, my neighbourhood in the Philippines is quite peaceful. I haven’t experienced anything bad except for delays in flights, which is normal anywhere. The only thing that I’ve experienced is that the people don’t want to talk about politics.

The taxi drivers, they’re like, “Let’s not talk about Duterte,” because there’s some fear over there. I sense some fear. One of our drivers, we always hire drivers in a van to tour us around. He was the chief of the Filipino police in the area.

He didn’t want to talk about Duterte. So, they were fearful to talk about him. With Marcos, nobody can talk about Marcos. Of course, everything is positive if you need to talk about the previous president.

That they have done good things and some new things, such as the windmills. So, there is some form of fear there. That people don’t want to talk about the leaders in the country.

5. Jacobsen: Looking forward to the humanist community within the Philippines, there has been a discussion between us about a humanist party, a political platform from which to make humanism public and more widely accepted within the Philippines.

How is this next step going to play out in your mind?

Langseth: As far as I have gathered, we have to apply. We had discussed it a long time ago, maybe 2 or 3 years ago. We have to apply, permission of action. Then of course, when you register groups such as HAPI, FF, and LGBT groups, we lump ourselves together.

There’s always strength in numbers and diversity. So, if all of us can collaborate, cooperate with each other, that is feasible. People are waking up. They’re seeing that there are alternatives to religion.

These political parties are the best way to come out as a humanist, having parties. It’s GLAD. It’s a political party for the LGBT. It’s one of the avenues where they came out.

6. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, you are misunderstood outside of the HAPI group and even within it. Why?

Langseth: It’s because people are insecure about the leadership. I’ve been leading them since its inception. I have retired. Even as a retiree, I’m still being misunderstood. I could be wrong. But maybe, it’s because of the lack of organizational skills or lack of confidence within the group.

And it seems I am being hounded out; although, they cannot do that because I am the founder. It’s that I feel they are so insecure. They feel insecure about themselves.

Jacobsen: What about from outside of the group?

Langseth: From outside, so far, it is better now. In fact, modesty aside, this is what’s going on. People will say we want to join the group because of you, because of me.

The other people in the group thought that that was wrong. That they would join because of me. I said, “Why not? What’s wrong with that? If people see you as an inspiration the people in Bacolod.”

She said she made HAPI for children because I had inspired her. There’s another one in another city. For her, I am the light of the HAPI group. Without me, it might go downhill. A few of them are telling me that.

Some of the officers have seen it and felt insecure because of how these people see me. They cannot lead. This is the reason why I even removed myself from the HAPI leadership group, so that they can lead.

At the same token, the same people are complaining because the board of trustees are not even responding to their issues. So, what’s going on with our group? All societies have flaws, have issues, but this is common in the Filipino community.

This is my second society. The reason why I cannot leave fully even if I’m retired. I’m still watching over them because I did not want it to go downhill when I leave because that’s what happened with my first group, my first society, which was called PATAS.

The leaders now think that I’m micromanaging or that I’m not a leader. Now, I’m a ‘divider.’ I divide them. You think I would do that? You think I would divide my own group? Of course not.

This is the reason why I said, “Why are they misunderstanding me? Is it a deliberate misunderstanding me or to make me respond to them or to irk me or something that?” I don’t know.

But I am sure that they misunderstood me because of the posting. But I cannot help these people who will tell me you are our inspiration to our group, to our lives. Is there something wrong with that?

Jacobsen: No, I see nothing wrong with being an inspiration for a group.

Langseth: A real leader would inspire people. If you are a good leader, you will inspire them to do more, not less. And this is why when I retired, I made HAPI-SHADE. I made that because it’s to augment our activities.

In fact, it is also my strategy, so that in case the location or a specific chapter has no meet up, the HAPI-SHADE will have a regular meet up. Because they always do that. They always have children coming in and teaching them.

So, that’s part of HAPI as a whole in general. So, why did the people think of it as a divisive strategy? I’ve been a leader for so many years. There are strategies that we need to do in order for our society to survive and that was my strategy.

It was never to divide; it was never to compete with anybody. In fact, it’s to augment the activities because some of these people think we’re only volunteers. We’ll do it once a year or once a month, or whenever we are not working.

But that should not be right. When you are a volunteer at a specific time, you should volunteer. That’s me; I’m Westernized. If you volunteer, you should do it once a week, or maybe one hour a week or once a month. A society cannot survive with a once a year event. It is not a society, it’s not an activist group. It’s the HAPI group, once a Years because they think they’re only volunteers and that attitude irks me.

Jacobsen: Where else do you feel misunderstood within the group?

Langseth: For now, that’s all. Before, it was bad. During the PATAS days, back in 2013, it was bad. I was not only misunderstood, but they were voting things. They were making stories about me, which were bad.

But that all went away because they weren’t true. But this time, this is what is bugging me. That misunderstanding that I am dividing them, that I am making my own events to divide them. And that’s not true at all.

7. Jacobsen: Also, off-tape we were talking about some things in the news such as the case with the Atheist Republic consulate in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

Langseth: Yes.

Jacobsen: There are legitimate fears around “being hunted down” by the authorities based on the statement by the minister, as it is an Islamic country. If you look at HAPI’s case, if it became more known, what are some of the fears there for you or for the group?

Langseth: I am sure that is a legitimate fear. This is why we have to take down an article about what’s going on with the Atheist Republic in Malaysia. Because somebody wrote an article, it was on our page.

We had to take it down. That legitimate fear is because we are getting known already and there is a plan of making a party, a humanist party, in the future. If we become known, I’m sure.

They are going to hunt down the founder. Because that is the founder’s fault, why did she make that? What is happening in Malaysia? They are looking for Armin because he’s the founder, even though he’s based out of Canada, in Vancouver.

In fact, Armin told me before that he had a lot of death threats already. And even before that incident, he had a lot of death threats. How much more now? So, that is legitimate. It could spread to the Philippines.

Because our government is also somewhat corrupt. Malaysia is mostly Islamic. The Philippines is mostly Catholic, and the CBCP. If the CBCP will find out about HAPI, I’m sure they’re going to put a price on my head.

But again, I’m glad I am here. I am fortunate that I am here in America. They cannot touch me. But I am afraid for the people in the Philippines, really. This is the reason why I asked them about this book.

If someone can get a hold of that book, they can be hunted down by the CBCP, the Catholic Bishop Society in the Philippines. They also hunted Carlos for showing up in the church holding up something that offended their feelings.

8. Jacobsen: What did they mean by offended religious feelings? What did they mean by that? Why is it illegitimate?

Langseth: During the time of the Spanish regime, there was a law about that. I forgot what number, because it’s been there forever. There is a law that if you offend the religious feelings of these friars and clergy, then you can be put to jail.

They think that a person like Carlos who went to a church, has done something wrong. Has done something that will offend them because of the sarcasm. One of those friars in the Spanish regime. He had a lot of women anyways.

Jacobsen: (Laughter) Ah yes, the height of hypocrisy, again.

Langseth: There you go, it’s ongoing. It’s still ongoing because he is not out of the woodwork; he’s not out of danger yet, Carlos. He could still go back to jail. He was in jail for a few days. That was way back in 2011.

Jacobsen: This is for offending religious feelings?

Langseth: Yes, sir. He was in jail.

Jacobsen: As a Canadian, that is remarkable.

Langseth: Again, call me in the Philippines.

9. Jacobsen: Only in the Philippines. Do you consider the Philippines a tacit theocracy?

Langseth: What do you mean? It’s a sham democracy [Laughing].

Jacobsen: Religion is so dominant, and has so much political, social, and cultural sway, so as to render it as if a theocratic society without being a formal theocratic society as you might find in explicit theocratic societies in some Islamic countries, for instance.

Langseth: Maybe, it’s akin to being theocratic in a way because the problem is that these politicians, every time they want to be voted on, then they would go to church. They would ask for the help of these priests to promote them.

Because the people will believe them, they will believe the priests. They will vote for whoever is being recommended by the church.

10. Jacobsen: Is it more often men than not?

Langseth: More men? Of course, it’s 90 percent men. The CBPC is 100 percent men.

Jacobsen: There you go.

Langseth: There are no women there. It’s misogynistic. Not only that, it’s akin to theocratic because there are no women. I have not heard of a bishop who is a woman in the Philippines. Maybe, in other cultures, but in the Philippines, I haven’t heard of any.

These people, I don’t understand. Whenever these priests say you have to vote for this person, they will vote for them. They will believe the priest. This is why I get mad with even my classmates nowadays.

It’s so frustrating to me. They will go to church to pray for their loved one who is sick. I say, “Why don’t you call the hospital? It’s the 21st century.” They still believe in this bullshit.

11. Jacobsen: Even in Canada, I do know probably 2/5ths of the population believes in a literal devil, and then some portion believes in the efficacy of exorcism to cure you of a non-problem.

Langseth: Boy, really?

Jacobsen: I find that interesting. When you’re pointing out that the politicians will go to the religious authorities, the priests, to ask for help to get elected, you have a mix of politics and religion at a social level, which then leads to a nearly 100 percent male political leadership with the backing of the Roman Catholic Church.

So, does this also reflect, the “misogyny” in feminist terms, the patriarchal nature of the Abrahamic faiths and their mixing up with politics? Now, modern religious apologists argue for women’s rights in their scriptures (fair enough and a noble effort), but, of course, only in the light of the women’s rights movements.

Langseth: That is the reason why the RH still, the planned parenthood bill, they said it was approved already after 15 years. It has been approved; it has not been implemented. Because some priests, they are holding back the implementation because it’s a sin and so on.

12. Jacobsen: The bottom line is women are suffering because it’s not being implemented. Hell, women are dying because it’s not being implemented.

Langseth: Exactly, not only that, there’s overpopulation. We are 100 million now in the Philippines. 100 million.

Jacobsen: What’s the birth rate?

Langseth: I’m not sure right now, but it is high and the death rate is pretty high. I don’t have the stats right now.

Jacobsen: According to Google, the 2015 birth rate is 2.94. It has declined from the 1960 rate, which was about 7.5 to 8 per woman. As I look at the research that has been done internationally, it shows over and over again.

If women have a choice in reproduction, the number goes to a healthier replacement rate and the health of the country on all metrics rises, the empowerment of women is the main contributor to the development of societies. Religions, more often than not, hinder this, unfortunately.

Langseth: Absolutely, I have read a book by Judith Hand. It’s about women’s empowerment. And yes, you’re right. If women are the leaders, we have a better society. But ever since the Bible, there’s little to no mention of a woman in leadership.

Jacobsen: Not many, and if so it is as a sidekick, basically, to the superheroes in the Bible.

Langseth: Or being raped.

13. Jacobsen: Or being comparatively sold for the value of property or animals, if lucky, or being compared to slaves and property in, for instance, the 10th Commandment in Exodus, this is consistent.

I know there are sophisticated theologians who read more in between in the lines than most do, but those are few and far between. Most people don’t read it that way. Most people take it as a manual for life and they don’t even read all of it if they do.

Langseth: Right, there’s even more work to do. We have a lot of work to do. Judith Hand is the author of a book about women’s empowerment called Women, Power and the Biology of Peace. She is an author about a book I read it in 2012. We have a lot of work to do.

I don’t think I’m going to see humanism in my lifetime be in a position where there’s more power. I’m afraid I will not be able to see that. But I’m trying my best. Godless Grace, this was launched in New York City. It was made by David Orenstein.

He is also my friend. Godless Grace, there’s a lot of people there. He interviewed a lot of humanists and atheists who have done good in their country, in their location, and in their locality. Our hope is in the Humanist Party.

14. Jacobsen: As with most early political parties, they will undergo definite challenges in original formation, in maintenance and growth.

Langseth: That is expected. The growing pains.

Jacobsen: [Laughing] I expect that.

Langseth: The growing pains are terrible, sometimes.

Jacobsen: I suspect this would be greater for a religious party in a religiously dominated country.

Langseth: We expect that. These people are bright. Each person has their own opinion, their own interpretation. This is why it’s difficult to group them, to herd them. Herding them is difficult because they are all thinking.

In general, the religious people are told how it is and what to say, what their values and stances are. It is easy. But the irreligious, they are intelligent, like you. You have your own opinion of something else, which is different from the next irreligious person.

Other people have other opinions. So, if there are 10 people in the party, you will have 10 opinions. If you have a religious party, you have 1 or 2 opinions, that’s it.

15. Jacobsen: I heard this called the split between dogma and catma. One, and you got it, is about dogma for those reading is there is a single doctrine with maybe minor room for interpretation and wiggle room for interpretation, which people believe on faith for the most part and critical thinking is discouraged.

Everyone will believe it as a whole. The catma is a set of meta-beliefs that are fuzzy. You don’t know what is the case, but you have probabilistic opinions about what may or may not be the case on specific issues.

Langseth: Dogma, I get it. It’s difficult. Building these societies was difficult, how much more if you have a formal Humanist Party in the Roman Catholic Philippines? If I had gossiping among intelligent people in my own group, considering who they are, some of them said, “I’m not ready for that.”

Someone said I might get killed. There’s also fear there. One of them is an intelligent person. I won’t mention who he is, but I invited him to join us to become a board of trustees because he has no problems except to spend his money.

But he told me that him and other people are fighting over this. They are having issues already because they are anti-Duterte or they are pro-Duterte. The problem with some humanists is they let politics get into their system. We have a few like that.

Although, this person is talking about Islam as a formal HAPI member, but he’s in the group. If there was no Duterte, there would be no problem, maybe, but, of course, there are always problems.

What I am saying is people have to get off that, their personal issues. This is one of the many reasons why another society has been disrupted, has been dissolved. Because of personality clashes about politics.

There was one time it was about to disrupt HAPI. I had to put my foot forward and set my foot down and said, “We will not discuss Duterte in this room.” There was a lot of complaints coming from anti-Duterte and pro-Duterte.

They asked me who I’m siding with. I said, “I’m not siding with Duterte. I have no voice. I am a US citizen.” That is the height of chaos if HAPI was stopped. I got some backlash, of course, but I told them you are not allowed to talk about that in this group.

Of course, I warned them because some people will go in the HAPI forum and talk about Duterte. Then they will fight. And if nobody can stop that, I will stop that. I’m strict. I said, “This is not a crowd for politics. This is humanism. This is a humanist arena. If you cannot let go of your political allegiance, you might as get out.”

That’s the reason why it stopped. I had complaints from foreigners saying your group is becoming anti-Duterte or pro-Duterte. That’s the reason why I had to stop that. People complained to me that your group is becoming pro-Duterte and anti-Duterte.

I said that we have to stop talking about this in the group. That’s the reason why we’re still here. The other societies are gone and dissolved because of that, regarding personality clashes regarding Duterte and politics. So, it helped that I am from the USA.

Jacobsen: When I observe the leaders of religions, more often than not, the ones in power and authority, they’re men.

Langseth: Of course.

Jacobsen: Why is this the case? Not only why is this the case, but, how is this the case?

Langseth: Because the Philippines is patriarchal. We recognize men as the chief or the master or the commander of the household. That’s why it’s always men and they think that they’re better than women.

16. Jacobsen: Do you think there’s that certain compounded chauvinism where you have the male chauvinism that many women will perpetuate as well, but also the religious chauvinism of whatever religion happens to be in dominance? For instance, a Catholic male will have a certain air about him, especially the leadership.

Langseth: One of the many reasons why I did not marry a Filipino is that being mismatched is common in the Philippines. They think because they are men, then they are better than women.

Not only that, the way they talk to women is condescending. I had experiences with Filipino men. I always fight with them. I’m not for Filipino men, nope. It’s from religion; it’s from when they were born. They see it’s the father or the men running the show. In fact, when I was small, I saw my father beating my mother.

So, it was normal for men to beat women, our mothers. Of course, within myself as a child, because they think they are the head of the family, they always think they are the ruler or the chief of the household.

It’s all because that’s what they were taught and what was told to them in the second Sunna in the Quran or in the Philippines, men, even Duterte is vocal, and open, about him having a girlfriend besides having a wife. Is that right?

Jacobsen: I didn’t know he was taking the French leadership route.

Langseth: He was proud that he has a girlfriend. Showing off the girlfriend and in fact he even said, “Why? Who doesn’t have a girlfriend? What rich man doesn’t have a girlfriend on the side?”

I said to my husband, “He doesn’t have a girlfriend. This is how Filipinos portray themselves. Their machismo.”

Jacobsen: Would the word “weak” fit?

Langseth: They are over-exhibiting their masculinity. Their machismo.

Jacobsen: Overcompensating?

Langseth: Yes, that’s the word. They’re only overcompensating. Because, I hate to say it, but these Filipino men are not pretty. They are overcompensating.

Jacobsen: There’s no chemistry. There’s no foreplay at all to these things, right? So, the men’s own overcompensation creates a cycle of bad relationship experiences for them, where they may then even further overcompensate?

Langseth: And women cannot see that.

Jacobsen: Right. That’s sad.

Langseth: Of course, we did not see it before. I saw it now.

Jacobsen: That’s also with Duterte, with the girlfriend or the French president with the girlfriend. The girlfriend: she’s not seeing it. They don’t see they’re being used.

Langseth: That’s what I’m saying. Women, they don’t see it. I didn’t see it before until now I’m seeing. This is what is wrong with most Filipinos, not all. They just, they think it is acceptable to have that thinking, to have a girlfriend on top of your wife.

They think it’s acceptable in society; it’s condoned by society, by the Filipinos, which is wrong. Nothing happens without political precedent.

Jacobsen: Or JFK.

Langseth: JFK. Look at JFK, they cannot even show that they have a girlfriend. In the Philippines, it’s acceptable. What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with us? What’s wrong with Filipinos?

17. Jacobsen: It shows a culture of maybe enforced morals around sexuality that makes any deviancy so bad as to need it to be not talked about and, therefore, very “hush hush,” very secretive. And that can create a lot of perversions.

Langseth: It’s sad because it’s still happening and this is the 21st century. It should have gone already. It’s still there. This is why humanism is one route, one avenue to change that thinking and show that it is wrong.

Of course, you can say, “Humanism is also good because it takes away the pain. You don’t want people to be in pain. Humanism is trust in humanity as human beings.” You don’t say, “That is fine. There is a 2nd life.”

They all think of the second life. In the second life, it will be better. This is why they accept bad things right now because they think the second life will be better. Look at the prisoners, as we discussed, they are over 80 to 90 percent religious in prison.

Because they think that it’s alright to do bad things right now because the second life is better.

18. Jacobsen: It’s the similar syndrome of, maybe not similar but, an associated syndrome of committing “sin”: go to the priest, tell the priest through confession, the priest blesses you, and that confession and blessing absolves you from blame.

So, it is an easy out. I only pose this as an idea, as a loose theoretical framework of explanation, but not a certainty, a “catma” in other words. The idea that the easy out, whether it’s through confession or a belief in an afterlife.

Thinking, “Jesus has my back,” that thing. It may breed people who are on the fence for criminal behaviour to go the next step to full criminal behaviour because Jesus has their back or they can get their easy out from confession and so on.

Langseth: Exactly, that’s what’s happening. The story isn’t right. People do a lot of bad things that they are going to do because hey they can be absolved and go to the priest and after that you can start all over again. Or when you die, there will be Jesus and ask for forgiveness.

19. Jacobsen: My sense is from you, from others who are irreligious leaders, in the irreligious world, are people who are tough. Because you have to deal with higher standards.

It’s funny on the playing field of real life because you’re considered an automatic out in a lot of social life. So, there’s that. It makes it a little bit difficult and a little bit tenser, so you almost have to be a tiny bit on your toes.

You have to have your teeth out a tiny bit all the time, psychologically, just in case. And I feel that leaders in the irreligious movement often have to have that. Even to the point of having to call out for militant atheism, I believe Richard Dawkins did in that Ted Talk.

I believe he should have rephrased it. So for those reading this, if you plan on leading in the irreligious world in general, you have to be tough. It’s just part of the job.

Langseth: Yes. Not only do you have to be tough, but you have to show them that you’re an example of true Humanism. For example, I’ve been married for 22 years. They said, “Why are you still married for 22 years when your husband is not a humanist?? I said, “Why not? We respect each other. We love each other. That’s enough.”

Jacobsen: That’s all it takes.

Langseth: That’s enough. We don’t fight about politics. He’s voted Trump. I didn’t vote for Trump, but he doesn’t Trump for so many things. But he voted for him anyway. What I’m saying is, you don’t get politics and religion into your system or your married life or your personal life.

Believe me, there will be a lot of broken homes. But because of the respect and love, we’re still together. For example, I will not condone any of my members to be girlfriends of married men.

But for me, I cannot condone that. That’s not humanism because you intend to hurt other people. I don’t condone for my group members to do bad things because we are supposed to be examples of good deeds.

We should do good things to people, not bad things. We should be an example. Especially the officers, they should be an example of what a true humanist is; not hypocrisy. To say, “I’m a humanist,” but then you’re doing a lot of hypocrisy.

That’s why we have to be tough as leaders. We could get a lot of bashing, of course. I get a lot of bashing, but I laugh at it now.

20. Jacobsen: It also helps to have a good sense of humour about all this stuff.

Langseth: Yes.

Jacobsen: You argue for women’s reproductive rights. A religious leader has a spasm. Usually, he foams at the mouth. It comes out later they are involved in some sex scandal. You’ve read about the similar cases. I’ve read about similar cases too.

Where it happens and life has a certain humour about it, if you take the right angle, at appropriate times, there is humour.

Langseth: Precisely, we have to have humour in our lives. We can’t be serious all the time. Laughter is still the best medicine.

Jacobsen: That’s right.

Langseth: I mean it still is. Of all the drugs in the world, laughter is the best medicine. When I went to the Philippines, I laughed a lot. I laughed a lot of my sister and my brothers, we laughed a lot.

I am pro-LGBT because they’re humans. We have to respect them too. Of course, and because, my sister is a lesbian. But respecting human beings, it’s not in words. It has to be in action too.

People, they want to preach, the priests, but they do other things. They do bad things on the side. And that is ironic for them to do that.

Jacobsen: And it goes back to that unquestioned authority given to them.

Langseth: Unfortunately, the Filipinos don’t question their bosses; anybody with authority. They don’t question.


  1. Angeles, M. (2012, August 20). World Trade Center ‘cross’ causes religious dispute among Fil-Ams. Retrieved from
  2. Atheist Republic. (2014, September 10). Marissa Torres Langseth: Freethinking groups can achieve a common goal. Retrieved from
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Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 1, 2018 at; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at

[3] Post-Master’s degree, Certificate for Adult Nurse Practitioner with prescriptive privileges – College of Mount Saint Vincent, NY, USA; M.S.N., Adult Health, CUNY, NYC, USA; B.S.N., University of San Carlos, Cebu, Philippines.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Marissa Torres Langseth.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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