Skip to content

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


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/01/15


An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. She discusses: controversial topics for non-belief in the Philippines and North America; jurisprudence and human nature; religious demographics of prisons; no life after death; justifications for the theistic and atheistic side; “cheap grace”; most violent criminals being men and human rights; and having the curtain pulled, so the afterlife can begin for believers; Marilyn vos Savant of Parade Magazine on Pascal’s Wager and religion; Richard Dawkins and the labelling of children; and the emphasis on women’s reproduction.

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 Three)[1],[2],[3],[4]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, what are the most controversial topics with regards to non-belief in the Philippines and North America?

Marissa Torres Langseth: I would say it’s about the death penalty. For me, it is inhumane. Everyone has the right to prove that they’re innocent. With the death penalty, if these people are killed, that means that’s it. That’s the cessation of life and that is contrary to the quality of life.

With the death penalty, if these people are found guilty, I hope they’re guilty, then they’re killed. So, there is no more chance for rehabilitation. However, 30 to 50 percent of these criminals are recidivists.

That’s the reason why there’s the death penalty. To be honest with you, sometimes I go, I lean on making them stop. But how do we make them stop? For example, that case in Connecticut. It was in 1997.

I was on vacation in Bermuda when there were two thugs. They escaped from prison. They robbed a house. I could not forget because they got into my skin; these people burned the other people alive.

Heinous. How could somebody do that? And of course they were captured, these two criminals. Of course, they were guilty before and now. But how can we do something to make these people stop? In Norway or places in Scandinavia, in some of the places, the prisons are being closed because they don’t have criminals.

So why is it in North America we have too many criminals and in the Philippines, the prisons are outpouring with criminals, with prisoners? That is difficult, to be honest with you. It blows my mind how to stop them.

And now with Duterte, he is trying to kill everyone. My problem with that is with the people who are not guilty. Even if they are guilty, they still have this right. However, in the course of life, it will become exponential because what about the people around them? It’s not going to stop.

Because the family members will say, “Okay let’s avenge the life, avenge the killing of my brother and so on and so forth. That’s why it has got to stop, but I don’t think I have the answer to that. Although, I don’t like the death penalty.

If these people are like monsters like the case in Connecticut, how do we make them stop? Isolate them? Kill them? Even with the death penalty, it’s not even effective. There are still a lot of criminals.

2. Jacobsen: It’s a complex question about jurisprudence and human nature.

Langseth: Exactly, and human rights, but is it their right to take somebody’s life away?

Jacobsen: In some ways, if you violate a law – I’m not saying this is the way it is, but in some way, I can see the general principle apply where if you violate a law – or the right of another human being, then you revoke the equivalent right for yourself.

So if you steal, then you revoke your right to not have your stuff stolen. Recompense for the theft, for instance. Or if you kill, you lose your rights as a citizen, as a legal person, in a lot of ways when you’re in prison.

But then there are other questions that arise from the pipeline about: how much of this is hereditary? The openness and willingness to do harm to others or to only gain for oneself. So murder in the former example, theft in the latter.

Does this come from someone’s genetic endowment or more from the environment? And if it’s more the environment, then it raises questions about society. Or if it means more from hereditary means, then that raises questions about: how much then can we influence someone’s internal moral compass?

And what can we do then to make a society structured in such a way to bring about a statistically more peaceful situation? But then when it comes to jurisprudence, we come from a tacitly bureaucratic country, America in your case and Canada in mine.

And in each, they have the idea of vengeance or it’s a need to punish those that do wrong in a severe way, it shows in America, especially, and it shows in the Philippines. In the Scandinavian countries, which are much less religious, they don’t show that as much.

Langseth: Right. But you can kill in self-defense, for example, I will only kill if that guy is trying to kill me or if he’s trying to rape me; something like that. But otherwise, that’s beyond me. It’s difficult.

I’m not a lawyer, but that most of these people can be rehabilitated. However, on the other hand, when we rehabilitate them, the percentage is low and this is the reason why we have the death penalty, but still, it’s not stopping criminality.

3. Jacobsen: If you look at the statistics of criminals, the demographics of prisons, there might be confounding factors with regards to religious services reaching out to prisoners, but most people in prisons are religious.

Langseth: Yes, exactly, I was about to say that. Because, maybe, they believe that even if they kill, someone up there will say, “That’s okay. You can pray 20, and so on. Then you’ll be cleansed.” That’s the reason why it’s easy. Even in the Bible Belt, most of them have guns.

Because they think they have the right to kill because their God is behind them.

4. Jacobsen: There’s the stereotype of the Southerner going into the local gas station with a gun afraid that Obama will come personally and take it away from them.

Langseth: [Laughing] Yes, why is it that the most religious are the ones who will kill you right away? They also believe, most of them or 90% of them believe, in life after death. Even if they get killed with their guns, anyway, there’s life after death.

I’ll be better there. Or if they kill, they would say, “God will cleanse us anyway.” So, it’s not believed. Whereas an atheist would think that there’s no life after death, so I don’t want to kill and I don’t want to be killed.

5. Jacobsen: There are two justifications there. On the theistic side, there’s the idea of impulsivity being excused by the belief in a hereafter. On the atheistic side, there’s the excuse that life has no inherent meaning, therefore, human beings have no value.

Therefore, any violence or harm to them, except to oneself, has no meaning, so it doesn’t matter. Both of those cases lead to terrible harm. But I’ve never heard an adequate explanation as to why so many prisoners are overwhelmingly religious.

Langseth: Yes, they are. In Mexico, look at the killers, they have tattoos with Jesus Christ on their backs or crosses on their bodies – and they’re killers.

6. Jacobsen: It’s “cheap grace” in their terms: “I am forgiven, no matter what.”

Langseth: They believe they will be forgiven. That’s the issue there. This is why there’s double morality in the Philippines. They think that they can do anything, do something and they’ll be forgiven.

Look at these priests who are pedophiles, we have so many of them. I have heard a lot of horror stories. And this is because we’ll be forgiven and pray, and give Hail Marys, and they’ll be cleansed to start over again.

7. Jacobsen: I mean everyone, whether or not they know the numbers, intuitively understand that most of the violent criminals, sexual or physical or so on, are men. But I don’t see a common knowledge or wisdom that most of the criminals who are locked up are religious.

I don’t know why there is that disjunction. I feel as if religion gets an easy off there.

Langseth: Yes, that’s what they believe in; that’s it, yes.

Jacobsen: And in terms of human rights, to the main theme of most controversial topics in the Philippines and North America, we were talking in the past about how the main issue in the United States appears to be, almost, a tacit despising of human rights because they in some way provide a buffer against religious privilege.

Langseth: Yes, I worked in Saudi Arabia as a registered nurse. For them, life is nothing. It’s like this. There was one nurse who gave a patient the wrong medication. Of course, the patient died and the family said, “Alhamdulillah.” Life is nothing for them.

It’s a culture of death. They are looking forward to their death, in Saudi Arabia, the religious Muslims. I’ve seen it. This is why there are no lawsuits in Saudi Arabia for negligence for nurses or doctors who give the wrong diagnosis.

There is no such thing as that, like nothing. Only in America or of course in Europe, maybe. But in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, if you kill the patient, it’s Alhamdulillah. I’ve seen it all. I was in the ICU and this nurse forgot this patient’s oxygen.

Of course, the patient died. The family came and said, “Alhamdulillah.” Thanks be to God. That’s the answer. If that happened in the USA, there will be litigation; the nurse will be sued as well as the hospital.

Jacobsen: Yes, it’s a litigious culture.

Langseth: This is why it’s so different. In Roman Catholicism, it’s so different. They have this self-entitlement. They want everything done.

They want everything done even if the patient is already dying. You have to put in all the tubes in the world to keep them alive even if the patient is in pain and suffering. That’s fine, as long as they’re alive.

They prolong their agony. This is why I say the most religious suffer the most. But that is only in Christianity. In Islam, when they die, it’s so different. But they both believe in life after death.

This is why we have some of the terrorists they say they go to heaven and get 72 virgins. They are looking forward to that.

Jacobsen: The women less so.

Langseth: Yes, yes. One of my friends infiltrated a Mosque. What’s in the Mosque, they are lectured all about how you have to die because you go to heaven and have sex with 72 virgins. It’s brainwashing. And that’s why they look forward to their death.

8. Jacobsen: That goes to a theme. In one lens, these amount to mythologies. These mythologies are death-oriented. Anything death oriented will incorporate pain and suffering, and not in a Buddhist sense mind you.

This is a way to become more holy. Your body is a sacrament through suffering. So, in a lot of ways, these are almost ways of life and ethics of death worship in some ways.

Langseth: Yup.

Jacobsen: Because this is King Lear or The Taming of the Shrew, it’s a play, before the curtain is pulled and you have action and the real world starts: the afterlife.

Langseth: Right. And until now, I could not understand. I cannot fathom sometimes why people can believe. Even if you explain to them that when the body dies, everything dies and there’s no soul.

Even if there is a soul, the soul cannot touch you, cannot smell, cannot see. It’s nothing; it’s like air. They answer sometimes when I lecture to them about this. That it is fine; it’s better to believe than not to believe.

Jacobsen: That translates into “I’ve stopped thinking.”

Langseth: Yes. But then Pascal’s Wager, they are too afraid to not believe. It’s better to believe than not to believe, to them.

9. Jacobsen: Marilyn vos Savant writes for Parade Magazine, does a column called Ask Marilyn. Some questioner asked her about Pascal’s Wager. She made the point that basically said one then, within context, should automatically devote themselves to the religion that provides the greatest promise in the hereafter. That’s the silly implication.

Langseth: Right, it’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of time praying and going to these churches. It’s a waste of time.

Jacobsen: It can be a waste of life.

Langseth: Yes, waste of life, you’re right because time is life. You cannot get it back.

10. Jacobsen: Unless, of course, it’s an adult who has made the decision to partake in this and get meaning out of it. At the same time, most of it is implicated in kids from a young age.

Richard Dawkins pointed it out that you do not have Catholic children; you have children of Catholic parents. But the assumption is such that you will have the label of Catholic children or Sunni children or Shia children, and so on.

And it gives another familial privilege, in this case, to the religious, to foist their beliefs on children prior to the development of critical faculties. Everyone can pay lip service to the idea that “I will provide a broad-based education to my child about all the religions of the world.”

However, this doesn’t necessarily translate into an objective presentation of world religions as sets of ideas and beliefs or a survey of those beliefs rather than “we have the true, true religion in our family.”

Langseth: This is why in the Philippines is 80% Roman Catholic, because we’re all Catholics. A lot of those Filipinos no. They learn that having religion means you can get money from that.

Catholicism is the number 1 religion. The first person who fought with the Spaniards was Lapu Lapu. He killed Magellan. Why is it that still people believe in Christianity? Why are they still going into the cult?

It’s because they are good at threatening people. Indoctrination of fear.

Jacobsen: It goes to your point earlier about how in many ways: religions are political systems.

Langseth: Yes, exactly. If the family is Catholic, the children are automatically Catholic.

11. Jacobsen: Yes, there’s an argument to be made too. Because if you look at statistics of birth rates, if that is the norm, the global historical norm, a child of X religion parents will be labeled X religion, then the religions with the highest birth rates will have the most adherence in the next generation, statistically.

And so it’s quite deliberate as to the reason for the strong emphasis on bigger families, on control of women’s reproduction and the control of women. If you are a leader and you control the men who control the women, especially women’s reproduction, then you control legacy. 

Langseth: Of course, yes, absolutely, that’s happening in the Philippines. That’s why they don’t like this RH bill. No matter how much the people want it, the priests are against that because it will kill the legacy.

And with Islam, they have 4 wives so they can procreate. 50 children at a time, at one time, with 4 women. It’s marketing and promotion. They are good at that.


  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
  3. Comelab, M. (2012, May 26). Filipino Atheists Becoming More Active. Retrieved from
  4. Duke, B. (2011, April 28). The Pope’s gonna have a cow. Catholic Philippines gains its first atheist society. Retrieved from
  5. French, M. (2017, March 5). The New Atheists of the Philippines. Retrieved from
  6. Langseth, M.T. (2011, June 1). Atheism in the Philippines: A Personal Story. Retrieved from
  8. Langseth, M.T. (2013, March 20). Kwentong Kapuso: Registered nurses and the alphabet soup of nursing. Retrieved from
  9. Meyer, E. (2017, March 7). Atheist missionaries are spreading humanist ideals in the Philippines. Retrieved from
  10. Universal Life Church Monstery. (2017, March 27). Filipino Atheists Pulling from the Christian Missionary Playbook. Retrieved from

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI.

[2] Individual Publication Date: January 15, 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.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: