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Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: February 22, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 11,749

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An extensive interview with Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. He discusses: Growing up; having a monkey, first Canadian sex store own mom, and artistic bipolar father; university selection; clinical practice work and methodological specialization.

Keywords: clinical psychology, media consultant, Oren Amitay, registered psychologist.

Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One)[1],[2],[3]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was life like growing up – geography, culture, and language? 

Dr. Oren Amitay: I was raised speaking Hebrew, which I do not speak at all. At one-year-old, my brother, who was three at the time, came into the family by way of adoption. He did not speak Hebrew so my parents began speaking English with him and me.

At one-year-old, I suddenly had my language changed. I was spoken to only in English, like my brother. That messed things up with my language. I had to go to speech therapy after that. Obviously, I don’t remember this period of my life, but that has been told to me.

I grew up in Montreal for the first three years of my life, in an English-speaking part as opposed to French, and then my parents came here to Toronto, where I am currently, when I was 3. My mother started a business here: Canada’s first sex store, Lovecraft.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: I do remember part of the drive to Toronto. We were run into by a doctor in his car. He paid my mother some cash to help us get to Toronto and to tow our car. This is our day of moving there. I sort of remember that.

As mentioned, my mother opened Canada’s first sex store. She is a pioneer and some call her the grandmother of Canada’s sex industry. My father was an artist—a well-respected, but crazy artist, crazy, literally, because he had bipolar disorder. It was undiagnosed until he was in his 50s, likely because, when you are an artist, people expect you to “act crazy” as he did.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: That was part of his artistic temperament. We lived in a middle-class(ish) neighbourhood but were one of the poorer families there. Sex may sell, but when you’re the first sex store in Canada, it takes a while for people to adapt to that.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: I never had much money growing up. I started working at ten-years-old. I was delivering papers and have literally been working ever since. My parents paid for the roof over our heads and food, but, since ten, I have been paying my own way.

But it also depends on what you call poor. We did have a tiny home, my parents had an old beat-up car, we went on one international vacation in childhood, but my parents made the most out of it, I never felt “poor.” I knew what poor was and our financial situation didn’t hinder us that much.

Back then, the social pressure was not as bad as it is today to have all of the cool things. We never did have any of those cool things, but we did have things other kids didn’t have; my dad would make some really cool presents for Christmas or our birthdays.

Also, we were one of the coolest families in the neighbourhood, with my mother having opened Canada’s first sex store; that gives you cache as a kid, even with adults. Also, we had a monkey for a while.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: So, that is my early upbringing.

2. Jacobsen: A little bit further ahead of that. How was having a monkey, having a mother with the first Canadian sex store as well as having a bipolar artistic father in high school? Some of that I would see as bringing good social cache and other parts of it I could see not bringing so much of that.

Amitay: The monkey and stuff were in our earlier years. I think we were a pretty popular family. I will tell a side story. I always thought that our norm was “the norm”. If that is what your family is like, you don’t know any differently at the time.

I really thought our was pretty normal in most ways and I thought everyone else felt the same way. I was a little jock, I played sports all of the time and I was friends with a lot of people in the neighbourhood. Everything seemed normal.

Then, I was back in my old neighbourhood a number of years ago and I decided to check out my old house. I saw a car in the parking lot and I saw a woman was home. I was going through my wallet, pulling out my Ryerson University ID saying, “Look, I am not going to kill you. I want to come in and check out my childhood home until I was 12-years-old.”

She let me in. She wouldn’t let me come upstairs–I can understand. She said, “Come back another time, maybe.” Anyway, we were talking and I said, “When we sold our house, we sold it to this famous Canadian boxer named Shawn O’Sullivan. He won the silver medal in the 1984 Olympics and was on all these Red Lobster commercials.”

She said, “Cool, cool, I have something even cooler. I heard that some people before me,” (she wasn’t sure how many families before), “I heard the family before me was a cult…”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: “…run by a lesbian witch.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: I said, “Did you hear that from a guy called ____?” It blew her mind. She was like, “How did you know, of all the people that could have said that?” I won’t get into detail about how I knew who had told her about the lesbian part and why they would have said that (it was not true), but I couldn’t understand the witch or cult leader part. So, right after I left the house, I called my mom and asked her. She was thinking and thinking and then she put the pieces together: My father, the artist, used to make candles for my mother’s store when she first opened up. The candles happened to be in the shape of penises.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: In order to air out the candles and get them to dry, he would put them on the front porch on the banister. So, apparently, we had all these penises lined up like heads on a stake. I do not remember that, but that is one of the things that was normal for us.

The woman also told me that she was Italian and the old Italian women in the neighbourhood– she said she was not exaggerating—the few Italian women there (the neighbourhood was almost all white and a few Greek families; there were only two black kids in the whole neighbourhood—one being my brother) would follow her up and down the street, telling her in Italian that the house was cursed and saying, “you have to let us exorcise the house.” She said they were literally throwing holy water at her but she wouldn’t let them do this ritual with the house they apparently believed was possessed. That was all until 12-years-old.

We moved to another neighbourhood at that time. It was very different. It was more an inner-city type neighbourhood. My brother and I were not prepared for that. We adjusted pretty quickly though. You see, when you were raised the way we were, we weren’t raised to follow trends.

As social animals, especially around 12-15 years old all you want to do is connect with other people, be a part of the group. A part of me wanted that and I was a part of a bunch of very different groups, but I never felt like I had to be in any of them. I spent a lot of time alone.

I went from group to group to group to group. No real allegiances to any group but I did have a very small number of close friends in my first two years of high school. My father by that time had been divorced from my mother for a number of years, but I still saw him pretty regularly.

Back to trends: I rarely followed any trends, aside from the heavy metal music we listened to. I did my own thing and set a number of trends—or I was the first kid (or one of the first kids) to be doing certain things. I was always the bad kid and had to go to three different schools. I pissed off the principals and teachers and many of the students. I usually had the top grades in my classes but I also had the most absences; my absences for each class were usually as high as my grades. I also got caught for doing a lot of really stupid things I cannot disclose, but fortunately, I did not get caught for most of the terrible things I did.

So, I had to go from school to school, to school; that is how I passed my high school years. I do not remember much; it was all a haze of doing stupid, self-destructive things and wasting a lot of time and definitely most of my potential. But then, after four years of screwing around, in grade 13 (we had five years of high school back then; now it’s technically four, although many kids choose to do one more year before heading off to university), I knew that if I wanted to go to university then I had to smarten up. So, I put in three months of hard work, got really good grades and got accepted into all of the universities to which I applied. Then, after that one term, I went back to old habits [Laughing], having fun basically. So, three months of hard work out of five years of high school got me into university. I’m not sure what it’s like now, but there you go.

3. Jacobsen: [Laughing] When released, so to speak, from family dynamics, especially your father, entering into university, no more monkey. No more penis candles. No more holy water to exorcise the family.

What university did you choose? Why did you choose it? What did you end up taking in it?

Amitay: First, my father was still in the picture. They were divorced, but my mom was very generous. She always had more money than he did. Her store became successful around the time of the divorce, when I was about 10 or 11, maybe a bit later.

So, my sister, who is eight years younger than I am and was adopted at three months of age, benefitted; she got all she wanted. When we moved to the new neighbourhood, I did not get a new paper route at first. Instead, I asked my mom, “Can I have an allowance?” She said, “What? Are you lazy? Get a job.” So, I got a paper route the next day and then asked her for an allowance. Her response? “You have a job and are making your own money; why do you want more from me?” That was always her mentality: Work hard and pay your own way.

I had started to say that, notwithstanding her philosophy on an allowance for me, she was very generous. On the weekends, she would leave the house and my father would stay in her house for the weekend with the kids. It was mostly for my younger sister – not my brother and me. We did our own thing. He was almost always in the picture, in a peripheral way, but he was involved with my younger sister. It is not like I didn’t have a father.

My mother also got a new husband, whom my father had known first. He introduced my father to his career at the CBC and my father introduced him to my mother.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: They have the same name and couldn’t be any different than two people or men: totally opposite ends of the spectrum. That happened when I was 10 or 11 years old, shortly after my parents broke up. It was a huge shift in my perception of people, dynamics, and so on.

Getting back to university, I had earned a scholarship to go to Western University, which is in a small town known for business. But I said, “I am not going to go to Western. I would rather stay at home in the city I know.” So, I decided to go to the University of Toronto, which is still considered one of the best universities in Canada for whatever reason.

Then, maybe a month before university started, a very, very old family friend—I have known her and her siblings since I was 3; they are the children of my mom’s former business partner—she came back from Japan and told me all these great stories about her time there. This was 1987; there was this first wave of people going to Japan then. Canada had this special arrangement with Japan that Australia, New Zealand, and the UK had, which was the “Working Holiday Visa – you can travel, study, do whatever for a year without needing to be sponsored: total freedom.

She went to Japan on this visa and lived in the countryside. I thought, “That’s cool.” So, one month before university began, I suddenly decided to go to Japan and, within maybe two months, I was there on a Working Holiday Visa days after my 19th birthday. Ironically, at first, I chose not to go to Western because I thought it was too far from all of my family, friends, and comforts in Toronto. A few months later, I was in Japan and spent the year there – a year and a few months. I was making really good money, having such a great time, and I met a young woman my age over there.

As a side note, I had to return to Canada after one year because that was how long this special visa was for; it was for six months but you could renew it for another six months while in Japan. Japanese visiting Canada apparently could return to Japan after one year and get another Working Holiday Visa for one more year (they may have been able to do it a few more times), so I was told by Japanese consulate staff that I would be able to do the same thing.

I, therefore, left all of my things in Japan—including the nice house in which I was living, my many private students, a private school at which I was working (the owners had essentially taken me in like a son) and my girlfriend—fully expecting to return in a few weeks. In Canada, however, I was told that we were, in fact, able to get only one Working Holiday Visa for Japan (and the UK, Australia and New Zealand, I believe) in our lifetime. When I told them about how I had left everything in Japan, they told me I could return on a three-month Tourist Visa to settle up my affairs over there.

I refused and explained that I had to go back for another year, if not longer. Over the next week or so, I kept speaking to different embassy representatives over the phone on a nearly daily basis, working my way up to the very top: either the Lieutenant Governor of Canada or the Governor General of Canada (I really should know the difference but I was still 19 and did not care who it was, as long as they would give me what I wanted). Each time I spoke with someone, I kept explaining how much I had fallen in love with Japan and told them that one year was not enough time to truly get to know the country and its culture, which was the whole point of the Visa program.

The Lieutenant Governor of Canada or the Governor General of Canada was apparently compelled by my reasoning and granted me the second Working Holiday Visa for Japan—the first time this had ever happened. They apparently realized that it made sense to let those who really loved Japan to stay longer under the same conditions so they eventually made it a policy for everyone.

When I arrived in Japan, however, no one in Customs would stamp my passport because they had never seen anyone receive two such visas. My Japanese was pretty good at the time so I could understand that each person they called over tried to get someone else to make the decision because no one wanted to risk getting in trouble for letting me in, just in case my second Visa was a fraud. They finally did get a senior official to let me through.

A funny side note was that I had brought a bunch of souvenirs from Canada, most of them being from my mom’s store. The airport agents were amused but suspicious of this 19-year-old foreigner who was explaining in pretty good Japanese what all of these very strange items were in a tactful manner.

Once I resumed my life in Japan, with the way everything was going I thought, “Screw university. I’ll start an English school in Japan.” My life in Japan, especially after I had met my girlfriend, was nothing like I had ever experienced. I was leading a hedonistic and pretty easy life and I lost any motivation to do the hard work I would need to do in order to live successfully in Canada.

Thank goodness, my mother was smart enough to say, “Come back to Canada and try at least one year in university; you’re too smart to waste your brain doing what you’re doing.” I resented her greatly at the time and returned to Canada prematurely in order to shut her up. Interestingly, I had similarly resented her a few years before that because I had always assumed I would take over Lovecraft since I was a kid. It was the family business. It was a cool store and I was lazy.

Most kids whose parents run their own business say at some point, “Why do I have to go to school? Why don’t I just train with you and take over the business?” That was my mindset as well. When I asked her the same question at around 17 or 18 years old—we were likely talking about my going to university—my mother looked at me and said, “No, you’re not taking over Lovecraft. I am simply a store owner; I’m in retail. You are better than that.”

So, at 20, I left Japan early to apply to the University of Toronto, which I commenced weeks before my 21st birthday. But I was really doing it only to shut my mother up. I was planning on going right back to Japan after the first year so that I could return to the easy and fun life I had been enjoying.

Now, I cannot get into the next part of the story, other than to say that my first year in university was not good for a variety of reasons. I was, in fact, doing very well, but a number of factors caused my final grades to drop from As/A+s to mostly the B range—aside from my Intro to Psychology course, in which I was able to maintain my A+.

I had no intention of continuing school and I ended up going back and forth between Canada and Japan for the next few years. In the meantime, I worked at a few restaurants in Toronto and then worked at a few language schools here. Just before I turned 22, I believe, I was hired to help set up, open and operate an English/Japanese language school and cultural centre in Toronto, across from the University of Toronto campus, as the director of the English section.

It was a big thing. It was thrilling and great, using my brain and doing all of these things I had never done before as we opened up this new business. I was speaking with lawyers, people from the embassy, lots of business people, politicians and respected members in the Japanese community. Truth be told, the business would never have got anywhere if it were not for my partner in the English section, a hard-nosed, intelligent and ambitious woman who was probably 20 or 25 years my senior. She was really the one who made everything happen but, as a 21- to 22-year-old, I relished all of the challenges with which I was tasked.

After a while, however, everything was in place and running pretty well. I essentially went from being a director and taking on so many new challenges to being an English teacher, doing the same thing I had done in Japan right after turning 19 years old and then in Toronto. Also, my status and salary dropped considerably and I could tell that the respect was no longer there. The bosses were…let’s just say that I could see the writing on the wall.

At some point during this process, I also broke up with my girlfriend, who had returned to Japan after living in Canada for a while. I subsequently met the woman who would end up becoming my wife, here in Toronto. She was also Japanese and ended up returning to Japan once her visa had expired.

I am fast forwarding through a lot but, about one week before my bride to be was about to arrive in Canada with her mother for our impending wedding in June, I started becoming very anxious. I had come to realize that I would need to set up a life here for us, as I did not want to return to Japan to teach English. Also, unlike how things had been planned previously at the language school/cultural centre, I knew I would not be able to fly back and forth between countries to live in both places. I additionally knew I could not survive on the salary I was making at the time, the job was too easy so I was getting bored, and I did not like the work environment that had developed—although I did always love the actual teaching.

I remember standing in my mom’s kitchen by myself, starting to freak out because, if I were to return to school in order to do what I knew in my heart I loved to do—become a psychologist—I would have to return to university for three years to complete the rest of my BSc, followed by one year for a Masters and three years for a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Not only did I think I would be so old by that point—well into my 30s—but I also knew I could not afford not to work for those seven years because I needed to support my wife and myself. And if I tried to go to school part-time while working part-time or even fulltime, it would take many more years to complete everything. On a side note, I was unaware that, for a Masters in Clinical Psychology, it was actually two years, while a Ph.D. was at least four or five years (more typically 7 to 10 years!).

This was about a week before my marriage! My wife to be and her mother were coming over soon and I had to admit to them that I did not know what the hell I was going to do because the great company I had been working at when I first met my wife’s parents was not the same as it had been, nor was my salary. Feeling like I had no viable options and that there was no way things could go the way I would want them to go for the rest of my life, I literally worked myself up into a panic attack in the middle of my mom’s kitchen.

I had never had a panic attack in my life. It was brief and my head was swirling. I felt like I was about to pass out and I kind of collapsed on my mom’s counter. A few seconds later, I got up from the counter and thought, “What am I talking about? I can go to work full-time and school full-time. Why not?” I suddenly snapped back into the person I usually was.

The next day, I arranged to return to the U of T and, about three months later, started my second year. At this point, I was five years older than most students because of all of the time I had taken off over the past number of years.

I continued to work at the same language school/cultural centre, which was right across from the U of T campus. It was near perfect: I would work fulltime during the day and take classes at night and over the summer. I was able to finish my undergraduate degree in the three years it was supposed to take.

And unlike most students in the second year, I knew for sure that I was going to be a psychologist. As mentioned earlier, even though things had happened that messed up the grades in my other courses, I still got the A+ in Intro Psychology and loved the course.

Even some students in their fourth year are unaware that, in order to enter most Graduate Schools for Clinical Psychology, you need to take a very difficult exam called the GRE or the Graduate Record Examination. Conversely, before even beginning the second year, I had already purchased materials to prepare for the GRE a few years later because, again, I knew that I was going all the way to get my Ph.D. and become a registered psychologist.

Fast forward to a few weeks before I graduated from the U of T, the language school/cultural centre fired me without any notice. They did it in such a cold manner, even though I had helped the various owners and their families essentially settle in Canada. In fact, I should have not been surprised because they had done something similar to the senior partner I had mentioned before, and she was really the one who helped everyone be able to come to and reside in Canada.

Besides, to be honest, I had been screwing around at work. I was so focused on school that I was doing the minimum at work.

Unfortunately, they fired me within maybe a few weeks of not only my getting into a serious bike accident, which messed up the end of my school year, but also my experiencing two of the biggest setbacks one can experience in academia—one of which was due to the accident. I got depressed for about a week or two and then snapped out of it. I elaborate on this a bit later.

I ended up getting into graduate school and, by the second year of my Masters, I began teaching at the university and was also doing some clinical work. Before and after that, I also was paid to be a Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant, so all throughout my undergraduate, Masters, and Ph.D., I was working fulltime in addition to my actual academic work.

The good thing about this was that, unlike so many of my colleagues who felt they had put their “real lives” on hold for 4 to 15 years while they went to school, I never felt that way. Although some of my schoolmates would work over the summer or do a bit of part-time work in addition to their work as a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant, they still always felt like a stagnating student or they did not feel as if they had really entered “the real world” yet. This was particularly true for students who went straight from high school to university and then to grad school.

On the contrary, I treated school as a second career, while my teaching and clinical work were my other careers. Unlike most graduate students,  I was never anxiously wondering, “When is school going to end?” Most of my schoolmates felt their careers would not begin until they graduated. For me, getting my Ph.D. would simply enable me to do more in my chosen fields and to make more money in the careers I had already begun to forge several years before.

In addition to learning that sleep really is over-rated, leading dual career/academic lives all throughout my undergrad and graduate degrees taught me about resilience, hardiness, responsibility and so much more. But that was the kind of work ethic and determination I had learned from each of my parents. That was how I became a psychologist.

4. Jacobsen: Also, you are also referencing the upbringing with the [Laughing] penis candles and the mother being a store owner, where the parents have a strong influence on you. That is for Masters and Ph.D. What about clinical practice work? What particular methodologies did you specialize in?

Amitay: I did my Masters and Ph.D. at York University, which has the biggest Clinical Psychology program in Canada with many professors who are well-respected and renowned internationally. It focused mostly on human-centered or client-centered therapy. There was one outright CBT Professor and one Psychodynamic Professor (and a few other orientations) when I was there, but mostly they were more Humanistic or Rogerian, as well as emotion-focused and process experiential.

The thing is, the program was mostly about academics and research, and some of the courses were garbage or entirely irrelevant to becoming a registered psychologist. Such courses, as well as other aspects of the program, basically lengthened our time in it. I said, “This is ridiculous. What are we doing here?”

As an undergraduate, being five years older than most students, I was quite arrogant. I was also not that much younger than some of my professors and was even older than some of my TAs. I was thinking that I had made more money than them when I was still a teenager and in my early 20s, and had lived a far more interesting life than most of them had. I thought that I knew more than they do and that made me, very, very arrogant. I had a big mouth, had a bad attitude and caused a lot of trouble.

I became well-known around the department, but not for the right reasons—although when I started getting 100% on exams, including short-answer and essay-based tests, some TAs I knew told me that others had been mentioning that. I ended up becoming pretty close with some TAs and professors. Whenever there was some luncheon or similar informal get-together for the professors and/or graduate students, I would walk in as if I belonged there, hang out and avail myself of the free food and drinks—usually to excess. I would then head off to class in the right frame of mind; it made the lectures far more tolerable.

One time, during the first or second class of the term, I stayed too long at one of these functions so I brought a glass of wine to the professor as a peace offering; she was relatively young and considered one of the “hottest” profs in the department. I walked in, handed it to her casually and proceeded to sit down as if it was no big deal. She asked my name and we ended up getting to know each other a bit better after that.

By hanging out with the TAs and professors, I could hear what was going on in the department and get a better sense of how things operate. However, I was still a troublemaker and I had a couple of professors say to me every once in a while, “What the hell did you do this time?” One of them told me that, when he was in the faculty lounge and my name would come up, he could see some of his colleagues literally twitch. He would apparently mention my name occasionally just to get a rise out of them!

I say all of this because, when I went to York, I was determined to not repeat the same crap I had been doing for so long. This was because, as alluded to earlier, I experienced several “crises” all around the same time: I was fired from the job that was supporting me and my wife (who was also working at a low-paying job at the time) and, shortly before that, I had been hit by a car a few weeks prior to completing my final undergrad term. The accident prevented me from being able to complete some work on time and I was too proud to ask for an extension.

Also, because I was so determined to get all my work done in time, while still working full-time (I took only one day off after the accident and had checked myself out of hospital against doctor’s orders that day so I could get to class, mangled bike and all), I was popping painkillers like candy. I went into shock and/or had a full-blown panic attack in the middle of one of my classes when I realized I had finished my month’s supply of narcotics within a few days. I ended up back in the hospital that night, experiencing wave after wave of involuntary “shock” or panic.

On a side note, I had done something similar a few years prior: I rolled my ankle playing basketball at the university and, after being taken to hospital, hobbled to class in the middle of a snowstorm with my crutches because it was the last class before the exam and I did not want to risk missing important information. Being very frugal, I took the subway home after class instead of a taxi and, a little after arriving home, I went into shock due to the intense strain stemming from my stupid determination and poor judgment.

Returning to the other story, my failure to ask for any extensions following the accident, together with my subsequent “shock” or panic-induced setback, ended up causing me to screw up my thesis. I was consequently one of the few students who did not get an A on it—I think it ended up being a B+. I had also got a B on a full-year lab/research course due to some conflicts with the professor and my fellow students, and these were the two most important courses prospective Grad School professors/supervisors would look at.

Getting relatively poor grades in these two full-year courses (as opposed to most courses in which I was getting As and A+s that were half-year and thus contributed less to my GPA) was critical because of the next crisis to befall me at that time: I had failed to get accepted into Grad School for a variety of reasons—most of which were my fault, although I did get into a Top-10 program in the US, but the professor/supervisor ended up leaving after she accepted me and thus my offer was nullified.

Now, I had no grad school, no job and, if I were to try once again to get into grad school, my application would be hindered by a GPA that was lower than it had been when I failed to get accepted the first time; because of the timing, applications to grad school are usually based on grades up until the penultimate term, but now I would have to include results from my final term, which included my inadequate thesis performance as well as other grades that fell somewhat after the accident. Plus, my plans had been delayed by at least a year and, in the state of despair into which I was falling, I was distorting reality severely and felt as though that one-year delay would cause me to be an old man by the time I finally became a psychologist—assuming I could even get into grad school in the first place!

In short, I really did not see any hope for my future at that point. As alluded to earlier, this is when I went into a depression for about a week or so. I was not used to failing and now I was facing a number of the biggest failures someone in my position could confront, all at the same time.

I ended up going to therapy, but for dubious reasons (I won’t get into that). In the end, however, I experienced a moment of significant self-reflection and insight in spite of my psychologist—or, more accurately, to spite that psychologist. In short, the entire experience really humbled me and greatly changed my perspective on myself and my life.

I picked myself up, took complete responsibility for a number of problems I had experienced—including those for which I had mistakenly believed I had already taken full ownership—and set about planning to get into grad school for the next year. I worked on improving myself in other areas of my life and, one year later, began graduate school on the same day my first daughter was born.

I should point out that my reputation at the U of T almost ruined my career aspirations, as I learned that, when prospective graduate supervisors/professors would contact my former professors, they would warn them about me. I found out that at least one professor who had never even taught me had similarly advised against taking me on as a grad student!

Fortunately, one of my former professors, with whom I had become quite close, really stuck up for me and convinced my supervisor at York to take me on. She took a chance with me and, I believe, I did not make her life too much more difficult than any other grad student.

Interestingly, after my Free Speech talk with Drs. Jordan Peterson and Gad Saad on November 11, 2017, I met my former supervisor for the first time in about 10 years. She was there as Dr. Peterson’s personal guest because they have been friends for many years; she also brought him onto my dissertation committee as an “external reviewer” as part of my graduation requirements.

In any event, when I began graduate school, my recent life-altering experience with profound self-reflection and self-improvement caused me to make a determined effort not to keep doing things as I had always done before. I was committed to being a “good boy” and not causing any shit. I joined a number of committees and got very involved with the department.

I really immersed myself in such things and contributed to some major changes in the department. And, as part of my devotion to becoming a better person, I focused many of my efforts on doing things that would help others and not myself. In addition to learning how things work in the department, I learned what most “do-gooders” learn: The vast majority of people are happy to sit back and let a tiny number of people do all of the hard work that ends up benefiting those who do nothing to help out.

I should add that one reason I first got involved in all of these things was that, by chance, I had been set up with a student who was as ambitious as I was. She was one or two years ahead of me and, as part of our orientation, she and others in her grade would each be paired up with one incoming student. At this point, she had been doing so much for the program as a student committee member that she had finally had enough. She asked if I wanted to take over one or two of her responsibilities and I took them all over, as well as several other positions.

If I had kept my mouth shut, my life would have been much easier and simpler. But it would have also been far more boring and I don’t do boring. Knowing me, I would have ended up filling my spare time with my typical trouble-making antics.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: In any event, I soon realized that York’s program was not very efficient: We were taking too many courses—some of which were literally irrelevant or useless—in lieu of clinical training and experience. The department asked how I knew that my complaints were valid. They challenged me to prove my assertions so I contacted the dozen or so Canadian Clinical Psychology programs at the time that were accredited by both the American Psychological Association and Canadian Psychological Association, as York was.

I had been on the committee that had recently got the APA accreditation for York so I knew about various requirements and expectations. After compiling all of the data on each of the aforementioned comparable graduate programs—which had so many variations in their course load, training, internships, research requirements, average duration, etc—I showed conclusively that we had too many courses and not enough training.

While I was at it, I also showed that one research paper requirement literally had no meaning or value for most students. Also, it had been designed in such a way that there was no consistency among students’ experiences: Some had supervisors who did not care about it and gave them an A for doing virtually nothing, while others had to work their asses off doing something that did not benefit them at all.

I pushed and got the department to change that paper so that, in fact, most students would derive some benefit and would have to do approximately the same amount of work. In short, I got the department to implement parameters that would help the student turn this requirement into a brief paper that could get published and would thus help them get funding, get into future internships or post-doc positions and/or advance their eventual careers.

In the process, however, I really pissed off a number of professors who did not like that a student was pushing for all of these changes. I believe a few of the professors got their revenge by giving me lower grades than I deserved. They also decided to implement one of their new policies that they knew was my personal favourite—eliminating one of the courses we needed to take—literally the day my own useless course was finished; I know this was deliberate because of the interaction I had with the professor who told me about this change. Oh well, that’s what you get.

By the way, when I finally resigned all of my committee positions, I recruited a colleague to take over, just as my “buddy” had done with me a few years prior. However, I fully warned her about the problems she would face and she was still determined to do it. She knew how much I had been doing so she got two more students to split all of the duties I had been handling.

Sure enough, each of these three students found themselves having to deal with “passive-aggressive” and/or retaliatory B.S. from some of the professors and administrators with whom they were working on the various committees. Unfortunately, they did not have the kind of thick skin I have and I believe two of them ended up dropping out of the program (I know one did for sure and she told me that the BS I just mentioned was a huge factor). I think the third student gave up on her committees after a pretty short time.

One of the points of this digression was that, although York did end up adopting most of the changes I pushed—especially with respect to clinical training—they did so after it was too late for me to benefit from these changes. In other words, I received very little actual training from York with respect to psychotherapy and psychological assessments.

Jacobsen: Right.

Amitay: So, I had to get it from the outside. Some of it was through practical experience, such as the Employee Assistance Program, which is a program paid for by certain employers. It is like limited private insurance for mental health. (It was originally established to help employees dealing with addictions and then they broadened it.) That was my first “clinical” job. For a graduate student making $65/hr, not bad!

We are talking 20 years ago. I had a niche market as I was apparently the only one in Canada at the time who was doing therapy in Japanese, according to the EAP provider.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: These Japanese clients who came to Canada had a hard time adjusting. I was doing therapy with them through this EAP. I told this to my department at York when we were discussing what I was doing.

They said, “You can’t do that. You are only a first-year Master’s student. You are not a psychologist. You do not have malpractice insurance. If someone kills themselves, the company will throw you under the bus because you are a private contractor for them.” And the fact is that one of the people I had dealt with through this EAP had attempted suicide.

I could have lost everything. I had no idea. So, that was my first “clinical” experience. York stopped me after I had done this for about a year. They did it for my own benefit and said that they would never allow another student to do that by tightening the rules.

In fact, there have been a number of times in undergraduate and graduate school where they have changed some policies because of something I had done and the outcome was not necessarily great. But how do you know if you don’t do it?

But the point is that I ended up getting most of my training outside of the university through practica, internships and other opportunities I sought out for myself. One exception to this was Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) with Dr. Les Greenberg, who came up with this very powerful therapy with Drs. Rice and Elliott, and he taught it in one of the courses at York. He also ran workshops where he was training therapists on how to do EFT; I volunteered to facilitate several such workshops with him and learned more about EFT this way.

I was constantly looking for any opportunity for more training and more experience. Then, the most important experience for me, which ended up changing my whole life, occurred when I did one of my internships at a hospital. A friend of mine, one of my lab mates at York, had done this internship previously and suggested that I apply to do it as well.

I was accepted and began working and training with my supervisor, Dr. Szabo, at the hospital. However, Dr. Amin, the head of the psychology department (and also Dr. Szabo’s former mentor), liked what he saw of me and ended up “poaching” me. I ended up doing a lot of side work for Dr. Amin,  who got me into doing Parenting Capacity Assessments (PCAs) for the Courts and many different Child Protection Services across Ontario. I had never planned to do this kind of work, as my goal was simply to do psychotherapy.

At the time, Dr. Amin was probably doing the most PCAs in Canada and had been doing them for many, many years. I assisted him in doing many of these types of assessments and got so much extensive training in assessments. Dr. Amin ended up becoming my supervisor and mentor for subsequent internships for York and then for my registration with our College of Psychologists of Ontario not only for assessments but also for psychotherapy. Dr. Szabo was also my secondary supervisor during this training.

When I got my full registration, I ended up doing PCAs on my own. I basically called all of these Children’s Aid organizations—with Dr. Amin’s blessings—and said, “Just so you know, you can contact me directly now if you would like me to complete any PCAs for you.” From what I have heard from those in the know, I ended up doing the most PCAs in Canada per year and may still be doing more than any individual psychologist.

I am so grateful because virtually anyone can be a therapist. Although I have many patients, with the way things are going in Canada with respect to psychologists and psychotherapists, I believe many psychologists who do only psychotherapy are going to see a significant decrease in their business in the near future. That is, even though psychotherapists have far less education, training, knowledge and expertise than psychologists, they have recently been gaining far more rights, abilities and standing by our government.

If I did only therapy, I would be just one therapist in a giant pool. But conducting Parenting Capacity Assessments—and now Custody and Access Assessments—I am part of a tiny select/specialized group of psychologists doing such niche work.

One reason very few people do these types of assessments is that it is kind of like forensic work and often requires us to give expert testimony in Court; this intimidates many psychologists. What intimidates and deters psychologists even more is that PCAs and especially Custody and Access Assessments draw the most false complaints to our College. I won’t get into that nightmare other than to say that defending oneself against such false allegations can be a very anxiety-provoking and/or extremely time-consuming process. I have been through a number of such false complaints and they really can take their toll; I will leave it at that.

Another reason people do not like doing PCAs can be elucidated in the following story that I tell my students. When Dr. Amin first hired me to help him conduct PCAs, he wanted to ease me into the process because he knew how terrible some of the cases could be; we have both had some truly horrific cases and have seen the worst that humans are capable of doing. We also each have children, so these things can potentially strike home.

Knowing all this, Dr. Amin decided to make my very first case relatively easy—which rarely happens, since the Courts or child protection agencies don’t need to bring us in for “easy” cases. In any event, he happened to have received such a case and told me, “This is an easy one: It involves a grandmother who has agreed to take care of her granddaughter and Children’s Aid completely supports this plan.”

I thought, “Great!” I opened the case file and thought to myself, “Either Dr. Amin is one sick bastard if he thinks this is an “easy” case, or he has a really sick sense of humour.” I am saying this to you with a smile, but I have to follow it up with the most unfunny thing ever.

You see, the reason the grandmother was involved was that her daughter had allowed a boyfriend to beat the living shit out of her child. My mentor did not know the specifics of the case. He is definitely not an asshole; he is a very good, compassionate and generous man.

However, as soon as I opened the file, the first thing I saw was a color photograph of the child in the hospital – bruises up and down, near death. This was my very first case; what an introduction into the world of PCAs.

Since that first case, I have conducted over 450 PCAs. Sadly, there is a great demand for such assessments and, like I said, it is a niche market. It is a terrible field in which to work but I try to do some good.

In addition to PCAs and Custody and Access Assessments, I see about 15-25, sometimes 30, patients a week. I never have to advertise because my patients come through word of mouth and from seeing or hearing me in the media, as I give about 4 or 5 interviews per week. It started off as a few here or there about 14 years ago, then eventually increased to about one per week and I kept getting more and more interview requests on literally any topic you can imagine.

Although some might consider me lucky for the way things have turned out for me, nothing has ever just fallen into my lap. Rather, whenever I see an opportunity, I go for it and do my very best to prove that I am the right person for the job, whatever it is. Nobody has ever simply given me anything or done me any favours just for the sake of being nice to me.

As another example, when I first decided to try teaching at Ryerson 16 years ago, the day I called to inquire into how I should go about applying for any positions that might be available, I was told that there were no positions available in the Psychology department at the time and there would not likely be any in the foreseeable future. However, I was told to try the Continuing Education department. I called them up and found out that that very day was the last day to apply for teaching positions that term. I can’t remember what I was doing that day but I pushed everything aside, found out what courses were being advertised, got my crap together and put together a CV and application package over the next few hours. I rushed down to the university, delivered my last-minute application package right before they closed and, weeks later, was told that I would be teaching Introduction to Psychology.

Over the next eight years, I would always teach at Ryerson and one other university in Toronto or just outside the city. This caused me to teach four to six courses four terms/times each year—once I taught seven courses and twice I taught eight! I am pretty sure that was a record. Plus, I was still seeing many patients each week and conducting numerous assessments.

I thought, “I am going to have a story to talk about one day. If I can make it through this term…”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Amitay: “…I will have a story to tell.” It is not comparing myself to other people. It is comparing myself to what I had done before. It is having a healthy mindset. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I always ask myself, “Okay, how am I going to make this happen?”

One of the times I taught eight classes was when I was working 100 hours per week. I was teaching 9am-12pm at Ryerson; 12-6pm at U of T Scarborough, which was about a 20-30 minute drive; and finally 6-9pm back at Ryerson. Those numbers obviously don’t add up [Laughing]. However, I worked things out with my schedule to make all of that happen without my students losing any class time or quality of teaching.

Those are the kinds of challenges I live for. I love knowing that I am able to do such things and do them well. This is the way I see life: challenges. Otherwise, you stagnate and get bored. You atrophy.

However, in 2011 I decided it was too hectic to try to balance working at two different universities. I stopped teaching elsewhere and have continued to teach two courses every term at Ryerson, four times each year: I teach Psychology of Human Sexuality every term and Psychological Disorders (which is often called Abnormal Psychology) and Clinical Psychology in alternating terms.

And, because I am a workaholic, I end up filling up a lot of my “free time” with social media stuff. Making my podcasts and engaging with viewers on Youtube and Twitter could, in fact, be a fulltime career if I had any business or marketing acumen. But I do all of that simply because it is the right thing to do; I make absolutely no money off of it.

Returning to Ryerson, I do love teaching. I also appreciate that much of what I learn in order to teach can also inform my clinical practice, and vice versa.

I have had opportunities at different universities to work full-time and aim for a tenure-track position. However, doing that requires a lot of research, which means that you are not really teaching much. I have always enjoyed the teaching part and not so much the research part. And I really do not like having to “beg” for money via research grant proposals all of the time and having to prove my worth to a department by showing them that I know how to play the game properly. That is not my thing at all.

Teaching, however, is definitely my passion. And because I love it so much, my students see me at my absolute best. I am on fire in class. To be sure, there have been some days that I am sick or sleep deprived. I will stagger into class, coughing and barely able to speak at first. But once I get rolling, I get energy from the students and I can get right into the lesson with full vigour.

And it does not matter if I have taught something before. I always try to keep it fresh for both myself and for the students. They can see that. The funny thing is, I will sometimes stand there in the middle of class and literally pat myself on the back and say something like, “I have taught the same thing 60 times, and this is the first time I made that joke spontaneously about this material.” I do not plan those kinds of things. I want such comments or jokes to manifest at the moment. And I will always try to bring recent events to the lesson plan so that, even if I have taught it many times before, it will be different in important ways because new examples are always available.

Also, my students know that, no matter what I am teaching, from the very beginning I have always taught critical thinking. I have a number of ways I do this organically in the lecture that really drives home the need to be able to think sceptically and critically, and to keep an open mind to everything.

I also show students that they are able to hear and discuss extremely controversial and uncomfortable materials from a logical, rational, or fact/evidence-based perspective without letting their emotions overwhelm them. In my Human Sexuality class, within the first 20-30 minutes of the very first lecture of the term, I have discussed rape, pedophilia, domestic violence, feminism, gender wage myths, real and false allegations of sexual assault or incest, masturbation, sexual orientation and more. And you know what I never include? “Trigger Warnings.”

I do have to be careful because I have no tenure and no job security. I am merely a sessional lecturer on contract. So, I still have to apply to teach three times per year, although I always get the courses I want because I have so much seniority. But I still have to apply.

I have forgotten to apply three times over the past 17 years because sometimes I am so busy with deadlines for Court reports or some other work-related duties, and the application period occurs near the end of the term, when I am trying to wrap everything up and get all of my grades in. Fortunately, my immediate superior is a good person and, each time I forgot to apply he gave me two other courses to teach. Although these are usually courses I have taught previously, once I was offered the chance to teach Positive Psychology and once it was an Addictions course.

Teaching a new course can be very demanding because you have to create the syllabus, lecture materials, powerpoints and exams from scratch. And, as a sessional instructor, I do not get paid for this prep time, only the actual class time. So, for each of these two new courses, I knew I was going to invest so much time and effort into something that I would most likely never teach again, since I always teach the three courses I mentioned (each instructor usually gets to teach only two courses per term).

Fortunately, I ended up teaching Positive Psychology two more times, so I was able to use the materials again, with some tweaking/modifications. Moreover, when I was preparing for the course, I learned about another psychological orientation/therapy—Acceptance and Commitment to Change Therapy (ACT)—which I pursued and incorporated it into my clinical practice as my eighth one.

As for the Addictions course, although I never taught it again, it did provide me with a lot of information that I have been able to use in my practice. It gives me another area of knowledge that is very relevant to my work with many patients.

In other words, instead of complaining about all of the work I had to do for each course, I looked at the positive aspects of my decisions. This is the kind of healthy mindset that enables me to take on new challenges: I look for ways in which doing these things will benefit me instead of worrying about the potential negatives. However, I do engage in a mental calculation to make sure that the potential benefits will outweigh the costs, otherwise I am prone to making bad decisions for the wrong reasons.

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Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 22, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/amitay; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] B.Sc. (Honours), Psychology, Toronto; Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, York University.

[4] Image Credit: Dr. Oren Amitay.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One) [Online].February 2018; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/amitay.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, February 22). Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/amitay.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, February. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/amitay>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/amitay.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (February 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/amitay.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/amitay>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/amitay.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 16.A (2018):February. 2018. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/amitay>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. on His Life and Views: Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant (Part One) [Internet]. (2018, February; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/amitay.

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In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. 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 and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from Religion

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: February 15, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 8,233

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An Interview with Dr. Darrel Ray. He discusses: Christian fundamentalist upbringing; Recovering from Religion; individual factors in recovery; Richard Dawkins’ terminology of religion as a virus; unexpected allies; secular therapists; sex addiction; most bizarre sexual taboo; criteria for asexual; universal attractive characteristics; guilt around sex; unsupported and non-scientific ideas around sex; and admirable aspects of religion.

Keywords: Christian fundamentalism, Darrel Ray, religion, sex.

Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from Religion[1],[2],[3]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You grew up in a Christian fundamentalist family in Wichita, Kansas. From a youth perspective, what’s running through a child’s mind as they’re growing up in a fundamentalist household that is Christian?

Dr. Darrel Ray: If you think about it, as you’re growing up, you’re being taught a whole lot of things. One is which language you’re speaking or you’re going to speak. There aren’t any children that sit around thinking, I wonder why mom isn’t teaching me Chinese, or why am I not learning Zulu.

Jacobsen: [Laughing] That’s right.

Ray: It is. At the same time, you’re learning the language. You’re also learning a lot of other things. You’re learning how to have polite manners at the table. You’re learning how to treat other people, your brothers, and sisters, and you’re learning what the religion is.

To the child, language acquisition and religious acquisition are happening at the same time and you’re not going to question why am I not being taught Catholicism or Buddhism. You accept whatever it was.

That’s what’s going on in a child’s mind. Here’s the deal, in a hunter-gatherer society, and we’re only separated by only a few thousand years from being hunter-gatherers. In a hunter-gatherer society, the child is genetically and biologically built to listen to their parents.

Because if there’s a lion out there that could eat you, you better listen to your parents. So, the parents say, “Don’t go into that bush over there, because there are tigers and lions that might eat you.” “Mom, dad, that sounds like a good idea.”

Then the mom and dad turn around the next day and say, “Don’t go into that over bush over there because there are demons that will send you to hell.” How does a child know the difference?

Jacobsen: They don’t.

Ray: They can’t; they can’t know the difference, right. So, by age 10, you’ve programmed all those kinds of ideas and you have no ability to critically analyze those ideas. Once they’re embedded in your brain, they’re embedded deeply and probably permanently.

So, notions like hell, the notion of hell, once it gets embedded, can scare the hell, literally, out of a 10-year-old. Think of a 10-year-old that goes to a Pentecostal meeting, somewhere where they’re shown the fear of God and talking about how terrible hell is.

That gets deeply embedded into your brain and can easily trigger responses that are as if the lion is about ready to eat you. Your brain is going to respond to that threat, whether it’s the threat of hell or the threat of a lion eating you, and buried somewhere always.

So, I see as a child grows up. One of the most interesting things is tragic. I work, we work, with a lot of people who are dealing with the fear of hell. They are atheists, they’re secularists, they’re atheists or agnostics, but they were raised in families like the Westboro Baptist Church that are fearful of hell.

The poor people, now, they’re an adult, they’re 30, 40, 50-years-old They’re still scared of hell, waking up with cold sweats at night, they have nightmares. We know now that’s probably related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

In fact, Dr. Marley Rinella, pioneer psychologist over in the Bay Area renamed it religious trauma syndrome because she could see from her work as a psychologist that post-traumatic stress of somebody coming back from Afghanistan in a war zone looks a lot like the stress people had being raised in religious environments from early on and then terrorized with things like fear of hell. That’s a long answer to a short question.

Jacobsen: That’s an important answer to a deep question.

Ray: That’s what you’re looking for, I’m happy to help you to give it to you.

2. Jacobsen: I appreciate that. You have the relevant qualifications – anthropology, sociology, education, clinical psychology. These provide a framework from which to speak authoritatively on these issues. So, I appreciate that.

So, with Recovering from Religion, for those that don’t know, what is the elevator pitch of what it is?

Ray: We help people deal with the consequences and trauma of leaving religion. That’s much of our mission. So, somebody 40-years-old with 2 children, now recognizes that everything they were taught is a bunch of phooey, what do they do now?

They raise their kids religious; their wife or husband is still religious. Who do they turn to? They certainly can’t go talk to their minister. I started this in 2009, Recovering from Religion; we’ve now grown phenomenally.

We now have a hotline somebody can call and say exactly what they feel. We get those kinds of calls all the time. Their kids are religious, but they’re an atheist and they raised their kids religious with their religious husband or wife. Or their wife has become an agnostic, but they’re still a Catholic.

We get calls from religious people. We get parents. Parents, for example, will call us and say we love our child, they say they’re an atheist now and we found you on the internet. We want to respect our child, but we don’t know how to deal with it because we’re Catholic or we’re Jewish or we’re Buddhist.

It could be anything. So, that’s our goal. We have small group meetings all over the world. People meet about once a month, talk to each other about recovering issues. We have many other programs.

But the short answer is we’re helping people deal with the trauma and consequences of leaving religion.

3. Jacobsen: What personality factors or personality variables, and individual factors, play into the rate at which someone can recover? So, for example, the level of general intelligence, or the degree to which someone can adhere strongly to engaging in executive function behavior? Or having “grit,” what are some variables there?

Ray: I write extensively about that in my book, The God Virus. It has little to do with intelligence. That’s not to say intelligence doesn’t have something to do with it. I’m not going to focus on it right now. There are five major personality components in human beings. Four of those components do not correlate at all with religiosity.

The fifth one, however, does; the fifth one is the only one I’m interested in with respect to this research to answer your question. It’s called openness, curiosity, and openness to new experience. Here’s what the research seems to show.

The less curious you are, the less open you are to new experience, the more likely you are to be in check with religious notions of any kind. It’s much easier for parents. Let’s be serious here, most religion you get from your parents.

That’s where most everybody gets it. You’re most likely to be infected, more easily infected, if you have a low level of curiosity and a low level of openness to new experience. On the other hand, children being raised by parents who are religious, but the child is high and open to experiencing curiosity is going to be that darn child that asks why mommy, why daddy, all the time.

It irritates the hell out of the parents. It’s hard to infect that kid or keep them infected because they keep asking the wrong questions. The other child, the one that’s not open to new experience and not particularly curious; they don’t ask those questions in the first place.

And I’ll tell you, I have three examples of that in my own family. I can see it. Sometimes, it’s amazing how those two things happen. So, what you get is a person that gets older and then realizes, starts asking tougher questions, or getting answers to some of those questions.

Then they start moving away from religion; they were still infected at that pre-critical age, prior to 10-years-old. That’s before the questions could even be asked. So, while their logic says one thing, their emotions say another thing.

So, generally, people go through a phase, generally, two to three years, of having to deal with that dissonance, that conflict between my emotions say, “There is a hell,” or my emotions say, “That God is watching me all the time.”

My logic says, “That’s crazy.” So, it takes quite a while, like I said, maybe two or three years, maybe longer – and sometimes a lifetime. Like I said, I got people dealing with it; they’ve been nonreligious for decades.

So, I don’t think there’s a formula. At least Recovering from Religion, we take people where they are. Obviously, we don’t give them personality tests or IQ tests or anything. Where IQ comes into effect is obviously, a lower IQ, the less curious and openness, open to new experiences, that has some correlation to it.

It’s not perfect, but intelligent people are more open to new experience, more curious. That’s why you get the phenomena that the more educated you are, the less religious you’re likely to be.

And that 94 percent of all the top scientists in the United States are atheists, pretty much. That thing is what you see and that’s where the correlation with intelligence comes in.

4. Jacobsen: Also, if I recall correctly, but I might be misremembering, the data on non-belief in any deity by professional academics goes up especially if you go to natural sciences or fields that require higher cognitive demands in general. So, that’s also a factor as well.

Ray: Absolutely.

Jacobsen: You use the term “infected” when talking about children. Does that come from Richard Dawkins’ terminology of religion as a virus?

Ray: In my book The God Virus, it was largely inspired by an essay he wrote back in 1989 called “Viruses of the Mind” or something like that. It’s this notion has been around since he wrote his book The Selfish Gene back in 1976.

What I noticed was that Dawkins is a biologist and Daniel Dennett is a philosopher and Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, nobody is a psychologist. Nobody is looking at it from an anthropological, sociological, and psychological point of view.

So, I basically stole Dawkins’s notion of a mind virus and applied it specifically to religion. He quite approved of it. I met Richard several times and he likes the book, The God Virus, likes its specific application, from a psychological perspective.

I give Dawkins full credit there; although, he didn’t come anywhere near what I did on the psychological side, anthropological and sociological sides too.

5. Jacobsen: With Recovering from Religion, and something we haven’t mentioned, the Secular Therapy Project, which seems self-descriptive. Who have been unexpected allies that are religious—organizations, individuals, researchers, and so on?

Ray: There are two questions there. Let me address Recovering from Religion. We have seen that there are allies out there. We are appreciative of Unitarians, for example. While they may be somewhat religious, they can be secular too.

Secular Jewish organizations have been allies of ours. Other groups like the Satanic Temple, Flying Spaghetti Monster. People like that love us. Those are all groups that we have some alliances with, that we cooperate with.

Also, the LGBTQ community is one big ally of ours. It might be the other way around. We’re more an ally of theirs than they are of ours, often times. So, many people in the LGBTQ community have been disfellowshipped or thrown out or in some way ostracized by their families, by their community, by the place they were raised in.

And as a result, they ask questions. They start asking questions—you don’t know; this is funny. How many music directors and choir directors that who are now in some way, shape, or form affiliated with? Why? Because they’re gay!

They were gay. They loved music. So, they were the choir director in their church for 15 years until they got caught or they outed themselves. They confessed and got thrown out of a church. Now, they’re looking for a community, looking for a place to land. We’re one of the places that’s easy to find on the internet.

So, I would say probably top of the list is LGBTQ. They love us; we love them. There’s still a lot of religious gays. There’s a lot of religious LGBTQ people out there. It makes no sense to me why you would want to go to a church that hates you, but there are still gay Catholics.

It’s amazing to me that they still do that. But, when they find us, they’re on their way out, or somebody outed them and now they’re searching for answers to questions.

Scott, the beautiful thing is that in 2009 there was no organization to call.

The only person you’d probably talk to maybe were psychologists if you could find one. And you certainly wouldn’t talk to your minister. Now, there are people to talk to around, and here. There is an enormous resource page on our website. Enormous.

You go to our resource page. We have hundreds and hundreds of links and resources for people in every walk of life and from every religion. We’re expanding rapidly as we speak. That’s the first answer.

The second part of the question is the Secular Therapy Project. That’s a different piece there and a different question. I don’t see the alliance with everything being too much a part of that, except that those groups, once they become aware of us, then they realize there’s a need.

There are real people out there, real psychologists, real social workers who still believe you can pray the gay away. There are psychologists who went to seminary and learned that homosexuality is a sin, being a lesbian is a sin, being trans in a sin, and so on.

They do believe this. They practice it. In their practice, they still use Jesus to heal people. It is crazy. It is dangerous. Because if a person comes into your practice as a psychologist and says, “I’m depressed.” I say, “You’re depressed because you’re an atheist. You’re depressed because you turned your back on Jesus.”

Wow, that certainly doesn’t help the depression. That’s what we faced, and I faced that in 2010 and 2011. After my book The God Virus came out, people who never heard of me realized I’m a psychologist, from reading my book.

They said, ‘I’m going to contact you, find out, and find a good psychologist.” So, I got countless calls and emails and texts from people saying, “Help me find a good psychologist, the last psychologist I went to send me back to church, or the last psychologist I went to said I need to get Jesus or I need to – part of my problem is that I’m an atheist now.”

So, I said, “I’ll help you.” So, I start looking, and Scott, it’s impossible to find a secular therapist by searching on the internet. It’s impossible. The reason I say that is no therapist admits they’re an atheist.

No therapist says, “I’m secular.” Because in Oklahoma City, if you said, “I’m a secular therapist.” That’s like saying, “I’m a second cousin to the devil.” No, the religious judges will not refer people to you, the hospitals won’t refer to you, ministers certainly won’t refer you.

And so, the notion of a Christian counselor has ballooned in popularity over the last 20 years. Entire programs have been developed around Christian counseling. Some of them are Biblical Christian counseling.

So, I mean this is crazy. There’s no science behind this stuff and yet these people are getting insurance money. They’re licensed. They’re certified in various states. So, I realized that I’m going to have to do something about this.

So, I started the Secular Therapy Project in 201 and got a website developed and everything. Now, people around the country, and soon around the world, are coming to us. We’re opening soon to the international community in full and will be able to register with us as a secular therapist.

We have four highly qualified therapists on our vetting team. If you were a social worker and you wanted to become a part of our database, you would apply. You’d have to prove two things to us. One, that you’re secular. We need evidence of that.

We don’t take what groups you belong to or something on your webpage. Second, you need to prove to us that you use evidence-based methods. Not a new age woos or something like that; none of which have scientific validity to them as a therapy.

So, once we’ve established you’re bona fide, we let you into the database. Then if I’m searching for a therapist who is secular, I can go into our database. I can register for free. All of this for free: free to the therapist; free to the client.

I can find out if there’s anybody in my zip code or anywhere close to my zip code, like a Match.com between therapists and clients. But it maintains confidentiality and anonymity for the client and for the therapist.

Because we don’t want to out the atheist therapist in Dallas, Texas, or Point, Texas, or, whatever, Timbuktu, Texas. Because the moment it is learned in your community that you are not a Christian, you’ll lose your practice.

Imagine: Tennessee, a psychologist saying, “I’m not a Christian.” 99, 98 percent of the people in that town are out as Christians. They’re not about to go to a therapist that is not a Christian, especially an atheist.

6. Jacobsen: I suspect that would be reflected in the treatment of atheists, if not attitudes reflected in surveys, but also in the treatment of young people who go against the norm of belief – as in the given examples.

People, they might still go through as secular therapists, possibly, because they have been battle-hardened in life for their atheism or agnosticism or some form of nonbelief in the standard, dominant religion.

Ray: Right. There’s a lot of problems with being a religious minority. I mean atheists are the most hated religious minority in the United States, even more so than Muslims. It’s funny, but that’s what the few trusted religious surveys have shown for quite a few years now.

So, it’s highly intelligent trained therapists who should be using evidence, and because of being highly trained and educated, are probably also secular. What has happened in the United States is, like Liberty University or Regents University, Paul and Pat Robertson’s institutions respectively, and other institutions, like George Fox University, they’re all fundamentalist colleges and universities.

But they have created these new programs for family therapy. It’s insidious around family therapy. But it’s a religious institution teaching family therapy or psychotherapy methods and requiring people to adhere to their theological perspectives throughout their training.

For example, Birmingham University, if you are a Ph.D. candidate, master, or lower Ph.D. candidate at Birmingham University, you’d have to sign a statement, or nobody will admit you that on: you will not masturbate and two you won’t have sex acts outside of marriage.

Jacobsen: [Laughing]!

Ray: So, right. [Laughing]! So, the funny thing there is: now, first, there’s finish graduating from that college, goes out in the world of practice. What are they going to teach people?! How are they going to get over their own stupidity around masturbation and help somebody who’s having a lot of guilt?

They’re a Catholic. They’re guilty as hell about masturbating. How is that therapist going to work with them? They can’t. Their own indoctrination is going to get in the way. It does. We get this repeatedly.

My therapist sent me back to church. In fact, reading a good article, interviews, another interview, it’s right on her website. The Psychotherapy Project website, ‘has your therapist tried to save you?’

David Niose did the interview with me for Psychology Today a couple years ago.

7. Jacobsen: You have written on “sex addiction.” Is it not a real thing? So, one of the major, or main restrictions, boundaries, borders that are put up, traditionally speaking, by religious texts and subsequently communities, and even societies, are strongly around sex.

So, why isn’t sex addiction a real thing? And what do you see as the main reason for religion in general, especially the Abrahamic ones, to restrict and direct sexual activity of the young especially, and even more especially the women?

Ray: First, sex addiction is a religious construct. It is not a psychological or scientific construct. The reason I say that is in 25 or 30 years of research; nobody has been able to figure out how you would scientifically define and diagnose this notion of sex addiction.

Most addictions are questionable and difficult to define, but we found ways to define some of them. But let me ask you a counter question, “Do you believe in Facebook addiction?”

Jacobsen: [Laughing] Not really.

Ray: Okay, people who spend hours after hours online on Facebook. They waste a ton of time. It interferes with their work; it interferes with their life; it interferes with their relationships. Doesn’t that sound like an addiction to you?

Jacobsen: It does fit some criteria that I would tacitly have.

Ray: And yet, those researchers aren’t concerned about Facebook addiction because sex has a special component to it. So, that’s my answer to the first piece. The second part of the sex addiction piece is, since there’s no science, we can’t diagnose it.

If you can’t diagnose it, you can’t treat it. So, anybody who claims to treat sex addiction is a charlatan; they’re selling snake oil; they should be disbarred. And yet there are people who advertise themselves as sex addict counselors.

They should be disbarred; they should have their license taken away. But it’s a powerful religious lobby. The religionists make a lot of money off the notion of sex addiction. DSM-5 does not have a category of sex addiction in it.

In fact, hypersexuality has even been severely changed and modified because: how do you define hypersexuality? Is somebody masturbating 10 times a day hypersexual? If it doesn’t interfere with his life or her life, then it’s not hypersexual.

But, in the Catholic worldview, masturbating even once makes you a sex addict. Masturbating to pornography makes you a porn addict, even once. I have quotes. I have a video of a Catholic spokesman for the Catholic Church of the United States saying, ‘If you’ve masturbated to porn once, you are a sex addict.’

That’s ludicrous. But not to a Catholic. I have a nice 50-minute talk on the myth of sex addiction. You can see it on YouTube. Google it, it’s right there. There’s a hell of a lot to talk about on that. But the main thing to know is that sex addiction is a religious notion, not a scientific one.

So, women and sex, all patriarchal religions have discovered over centuries that the best way to control people is through their sex and sexuality. I use the term in my book The God Virus, I call it the “guilt cycle.”

But religions, they teach that when you’re 5 or 10-years-old; that sex is bad; that masturbation is bad, touching your own genitals is bad. If you do it, then you’re going to hell: Jesus is watching you.

There’s a voyeuristic God out there that wants to see everything you do and is going to condemn you. I often tell Christians that if you’re a Christian, and you have sex, then you have a threesome with Jesus. He’s watching you the whole time.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Ray: So, patriarchal religions, once they realize that, they’ve taught you that your own body is your enemy: I mean look at the story of Adam and Eve. That is a signal that your body is the enemy and particularly women are the enemy.

Women were the temptress; women succumb to temptation. Women tempted men. All those are sins and crimes and all women are guilty of that crime in the Catholic worldview. Also, in the Islamic worldview, and to a somewhat lesser degree, even in Buddhism, Buddhists clearly are misogynistic, and male-dominated, patriarchal.

Hinduism, the same thing. So, you can name the patriarchal religion and control of women’s sexuality as number one in their list of priorities from their worldview. It starts early on with girls being taught about the religious concept of virginity.

Virginity is not a biological concept. At all. It’s a religious concept. So, what we do is we teach girls that virginity is precious, God owns your virginity; in other words, you do not own your own body, and losing your virginity is a dangerous thing.

You must guard it carefully. Of course, on the opposite side, it assumes that boys are out to get your virginity; that you must protect yourself; that you keep your legs together with an aspirin between them. All these messages.

In the purity culture, especially among fundamentalists, but it pervades our whole culture. And when we have people going into our schools right now teaching abstinence only, bull shit, the girls, most of the messages are guilt messages.

Now, why is that important in a patriarchal religion? Because when a child is taught their body is ba, they commit a sin, where they feel terrible about it. “I masturbated this morning, now I feel terrible, what do I do?”

A Baptist reads the Bible and prays. A Catholic goes to confession. A Mormon confesses to his bishop. Do you realize that bishop Mitt Romney of the Mormon church had to listen to 12-year-old boys tell him if they masturbated or not? Did you know that’s a part of the Mormon church?

12-year-old boys come in to get their talking to by the bishop and one of the questions they ask is, “Have you masturbated?” And if you have, “What are you going to do about not doing it anymore?”

This is a 12-year-old boy. They hand them an 8-page piece of literature. I even quote it extensively in my book, Sex and God. They even give them an 8-page a story or metaphor that does not mention the word sex or penis or masturbation, doesn’t mention it once, but the title is, “Don’t tamper with the factory.”

The metaphor is that your genitals are a factory for creating sperm. It’s going to do its thing and you shouldn’t mess with it. Don’t touch your genitals, [Laughing]! And Mitt Romney was giving this thing to people.

To 12-year-old boys, because the bishop in the Mormon church must do that, it’s one of their duties. Nobody said that during the election cycle, that’s for sure, [Laughing].

8. Jacobsen: What’s the most bizarre sexual taboo that you’ve come across in your research on sex and religion?

Ray: Oh, that’s an easy question to answer. Most Christians say to secularists, “You want to be secular because you want to act like an animal. You want to have all the sex you can.”

Let me tell you something. There are almost no animals in this planet that only have sex for procreation.

There are almost no animals on this planet that can have sex whenever they want to. Humans can have sex whenever they want to, bonobo apes can have sex whenever they want to, chimps can have sex whenever they want to, dolphins can have sex whenever they want to.

But, my dog, she’s walking around me right now wondering why I’m not petting her. She only mates when she’s ready to procreate. That insect that’s getting ready to hatch out of its larva this spring in a few weeks is only going to have sex to procreate.

Most animals on this planet only have sex to procreate. In other words, when the Pope tells you to have sex only to procreate, he’s telling you to have sex like an animal. Now, think about that. He’s telling you to have sex like an animal.

As a human, I have sex whenever I want to, and masturbation is a big part of being human. So, that’s perverted if you think about it. When the Pope says nuns cannot have to sex their entire lives, that to me is one of the most perverted sexual things you can ask a person to do.

So, flip it on its head, your question. What’s the most perverted thing? Telling people, they can’t have sex for a lifetime.

Jacobsen: I can see from their perspective a self-selection of people entering them, but then also telling them: it’s probably both. It’s people self-selecting to go into that, plus then being reinforced and encouraged to not.

Ray: They’re somewhat self-selected at an early age before their own hormones. Many, many priests tell me that they committed their lives to God when they were 12- or 13-years-old before the hormones got rolling.

Now, there is a self-selection. About one percent of the population probably meets the criteria of being asexual.

9. Jacobsen: What are the criteria for asexual?

Ray: Have no interest in sex at all. Don’t masturbate, don’t want to have sex with another person, it doesn’t interest them.

Jacobsen: That’s a lot of people.

Ray: In some ways, they are lucky. The rest of us are so horny. We don’t know what do with it sometimes. If one percent out of the population is asexual, now, there’s probably a large percentage of that that is situationally asexual.

Medically, you have a medical illness or disease or condition. You might lose your sex drive; your libido might disappear. People have told me after they got divorced, they had no interest in sex for three years.

Then suddenly their sex life comes back, their libido comes back. But what I’m talking about is of those one percent in the world, of course, half of those are male. If those people are self-selecting to become priests, then they have a huge advantage.

They’re not interested in sex and never will be interested in sex. So, they’re going to make great priests. But the problem with that is they’re also going to be great priests standing up in front of everybody else and saying, “You can’t masturbate. You can’t have sex.” It’s easy for them to say!

I have no interest in Game of Thrones. I don’t want to ever watch that; it doesn’t make any sense to me; I don’t want to watch it. So, if I said, “You can’t because I don’t like Game of Thrones, you can’t watch it either.”

That’s basically what people are saying, what an asexual would be saying to the rest of the congregation. Now, the fact is that most of those priests are not asexual because they went to an all-boys seminary.

I’ve interviewed so many priests. I’ve done this so many times. They commit themselves to the church at 12 or 13, often at the behest of their parents because Catholics love to have a boy in the family that’s a priest.

That gives them lots of status in the Catholic community. My uncle is a priest, or my son is going to be a priest. They love that. And so, the kid at 12 or 13 under parental pressure and family pressure goes to an all-boys seminary and in the all-boys seminary; there’s a lot of fucking going on.

A lot of homosexual activity going on. And most every person I’ve ever talked to that went to the all-boys Catholic seminary, even if they didn’t eventually become a priest, said there was lots of homosexual stuff going on.

So, these boys are discovering their sexuality, even as they’re going through their celibate and abstinence-only indoctrination. It’s not working then when they get out. They become an actual priest. They have been programmed to sexually respond in that environment.

And as a result, in my own research and several other people have verified this in their own research, that’s a big part of where the pedophile priest issue comes from. It is the way they’re being trained as boys because your brain is designed to labor: what are the appropriate sexual behaviors and sexual object in my culture?

And that’s why what is attractive and beautiful in one culture is not attractive and beautiful in another culture because the brain has been programmed for that cultural expectation. We’re not programmed, our brains are not preprogrammed like an insect.

An insect or a bird knows exactly who to mate with. We don’t. We must learn that. If your brained is turned on to learning who to mate with when you’re 13, 14, 15, and you’re in an all-boys seminary, you look around or your all girl’s nunnery; you look around, all you see is boys, or all you see is girls, your brain is going to imprinted.

I mean by that “imprinted,” the biological printing, to think that should be the focus in your mating behavior. It’s done at a biological level and neurological level. I can go on and on about that, but I don’t think that’s what you wanted to hear.

Jacobsen: It’s all fascinating.

Ray: This is an aside, you may or may not be interested in. You may have noticed this, but every culture seems to have a body type that is more prevalent. I’ll give an example. The most extreme is something called “Steel Page” in Africa. Women with gigantic butts.

Now, why are women in certain tribes of Africa having gigantic butts? Whereas you go to Wales and you look at women there, women there have on average much larger breasts than women in other places.

Then you go to Asia, you see Asian women with almost no breasts at all, tiny, if at all. So, you must ask the question, “Why is there such a massive difference in body types across cultures?” And part of that has to do with what we’re talking about. We literally are breeding ourselves.

There is sexual selection going on right within our own species and different cultures highlight what is sexually attractive in their culture. Then those people tend to breed more successfully. Their offspring tend to have their butts bigger, or bigger breasts or fuller breasts.

It’s fascinating to know we’re doing to ourselves what we do with cattle and what we do with dogs. We’re self-breeding. And it’s because the brain is programmed to look around and say, “What is attractive? What should be? What is attractive in my culture?”

So, you get lots of people at age 12 or 13 – all people, men, and women are – looking around; their brain is programmed to say, “What is the right thing in this culture?” Once they’ve locked in on that, then that becomes their sexual fetish, probably for the rest of their life.

It is especially true of men. The research shows that men fetishize much more quickly and completely and for lifelong than women do. So, if a man has a breast fetish, he locks in on that. H’s probably going to have a breast fetish for the rest of his life.

Lots of other fetishes, we think that’s probably where it comes from, the brain. It is so desperate to figure out what’s the appropriate mating strategy currently in this place and this culture. That it locks onto whatever seems to be right to that 12 or 13-year-old, who is totally inexperienced.

He doesn’t have a clue. He’s responding to the visual and emotional cues of that time and place.

So, that’s my extra bit of knowledge there for you.

10. Jacobsen: What are sometimes termed universal attractive characteristics? Those that would be invariant. So, things across-culture-attractive and that we are self-selecting for no matter the culture?

Ray: I’m not sure I can answer that. The reason I say is that humans, we are the most sexually flexible on the planet. There are almost no other species as nearly as sexually flexible as ours. The interesting thing is there’s a good book called Sexual Fluidity. It came out about 5 years ago.

It’s a long-term – I mean long term, 10- to 20-year – a study of women and shows how women’s sexual behavior changes rather dramatically over a lifetime. And that a woman who may describe herself as straight in her teens may describe herself as bisexual in her 20s and lesbian in her 30s then back to straight in her 40s.

It’s amazing how fluid women’s sexuality is. Men do not seem to be nearly as fluid but still fluid within that window of time that I’ve spoken about that that the brain is programmed. The remarkable thing: obviously, there’s probably some universals.

But even that’s iffy. I’m not sure. Every universal I can think about there’s major exceptions. If you think about it, my dog doesn’t have a wide variety of sexual behaviors that she wants to engage in.

Whereas a female, the equivalent of that, age and all, would have a wide variety of sexual behaviors she can engage in. Some of which would develop by age; I’ve studied people in their 40s and 50s and 60s. They’re still developing new things.

People who are 50 and 60 years old can be kinky as hell. Tell me in my 20s, I’d have never thought about doing that. I’d be scared to death to do that. So, we are amazing. The unique thing about humans is we have a high-level need for variety.

Humans want variety, constant variety. That’s partially what drives our consumerist society. We’re always looking for the new thing; we always want the latest technology, want the newest car, want a different color or shade of lipstick or whatever.

If the same thing that drives our sexuality always labor what’s going to turn us on, one of the problems with religious sexuality is religion has a one size fits all approach, and that’s monogamy forever.

The fact is, there’s no human society on this planet that’s monogamous. There’s never been a time in human history that was monogamous. So, I give talks about this all the time. I ask my audience. Let’s say there are 400 people in the room.

I’d say, “How many of someone who is monogamous?” And I bet half the hands will raise up. The other half have heard my talk before or they’ve read my books, so they know better.

Jacobsen: [Laughing] That’s funny.

Ray: Now, I say, “Keep your hands up if it’s not you.” And almost all the hands go down. Because, for example, my parents, who are now both deceased, told me that they had never had sex before they were married.

That was not true or at least one of my two parents. I have evidence for it. So, people lie about their sexual experience, especially women. Because sexual experiences are shamed in our culture. Women are shamed for being sexual.

So, anyway, the one size fits all religious straitjacket works for people who have a low sex drive, low level of curiosity, who is asexual, who buy into the religious stuff about staying married to your spouse for the rest of your life.

The rest of us, we don’t want to have a deal with that. That’s why the divorce rate is so high. The divorce rate is higher among the most religious. The more religious you are, then the more likely you are to be divorced.

11. Jacobsen: Are they not only the more guilt-ridden around sex as well?

Ray: Oh, there’s a lot of shame and guilt that they don’t know how to deal with. So, they act it out and that leads to divorce. And this notion of sex addiction. You don’t know how many people are going to therapists now saying my husband is a sex addict because I caught him looking at porn and masturbating.

So, who diagnosed that? Was it a psychologist? Or was it the wife? [Laughing]! Or the mother in law, or the minister? I call it the Oprah Effect. Oprah Winfrey is diagnosing sex addiction.

She has no fucking qualifications for doing that. She’s having people on her show like Dr. Drew, who’s an idiot, or Dr. Phil, who has no qualifications and shouldn’t be diagnosing anybody; they’re calling people sex addicts.

Dr. Phil, I mean these people are spreading incredibly harmful notions about sexuality on Oprah and she is not challenging them. Believe me, I’ve tried to get her to challenge them, she won’t answer my emails, that’s for sure.

12. Jacobsen: But that’s in the United States. The United States, maybe outside of the Islamic world, is one among a few extraordinarily religious nations. So, the framework from people, families, groups, and subpopulations that will view the world in one way, which is completely internally self-affirming to unsupported and non-scientific ideas around sex, right?

Ray: There’s a lot of good research out there. You might look at David Barash’s book, it’s a great book called The Myth of Monogamy or read Dr. Marty Klein’s book. Both guys are major sexologists.

Dr. Marty Klein’s essay called “You’re Addicted to What?” It’s an essay. Or you might also be interested in Dr. Marty Klein’s book called America’s War on Sex. It’s an interesting look at politics and statistics and practices of America and sexuality.

And of course, if you’re interested in the sex part of it, go look at my book, Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality. There’s a lot of people starting to write about it. The reason I wrote both of my books, my most recent books, was because I wasn’t seeing anybody talking about this stuff, especially sex.

Nobody wants to challenge the religious notions about sexuality in our culture. And nobody wants to challenge therapists that are using nonscientific approaches to therapy that cause more problems.

The first rule of medicine is “do no harm” and yet psychotherapists out there are exacerbating the psychological problems that people are having that was initially caused by religion.

As a therapist, my colleagues verify this, about 80 percent of the people that come into my office or have come into my office over the years, dealing with sex problems, 80 percent, probably more, really, is dealing with sex problems directly related to religious training.

So, if they’re going through a divorce because the wife says you’re a sex addict, that’s a religious notion. It’s not a scientific notion. And we got all that stuff going on in our culture. And psychologists that don’t stand up and say, “That’s wrong. You can’t do good psychotherapy.”

They can’t say that without challenging underlying religious assumptions. That’s scary. That’s scary, especially when you’re a religious person as a psychotherapist, scary.

13. Jacobsen: Are there any aspects of religion that you find admirable?

Ray: Religion can bring people together in community. That’s one of its big strengths. But, it is not unique to religion. They have created a corner on that market. Humans are social creatures. We want community.

We want a place to bring our children, we want a place to teach our children, they’re safe. And churches claim to do that for people. Unfortunately, once you get in the church, then your children are going to be taught things you probably don’t want to be taught.

And where’s the secular person going to go? If I said, and too many secular people say, “I went back to church because I wanted a community. I don’t believe a word that minister is saying.” But the problem is you’re putting your children through Sunday school where they’re being taught some nasty stuff.

Like God created genocide, killed everybody on the planet through this cute little story about Noah’s Ark or another cute little story like murdering all the children for making fun of a prophet.

So, the community teaches us what people are after. And what I’m loving right now, Sunday Assembly is a movement out of England. It’s sputtered a bit, but it’s working in some places. Oasis started about 3 years ago. It’s bringing the community together.

I’m watching it. It started in Houston and is thriving in Houston. And it’s now in Kansas City. I say we because I’ve been a part of this movie. They have 3 organizations in Salt Lake City area, one in Okun area, one in Toronto area, and one in Austin opened two weeks ago.

One in Wichita, Kansas that opened a few months ago. Here’s what Oasis is: it’s a weekly meeting on Sunday morning at 11 o’clock where mostly atheists, secularists, and humanists, all come together and have a blast listening to a science culture, hearing some good rock music or good secular music.

There is childcare, which is really important. All churches have childcare. We’ve got childcare. The minute you add childcare to the formula, your population doubles or triples. It’s amazing to see how many people come to these things.

We’re getting 200 people showing up every Sunday. Houston is getting 150 people showing up every Sunday. Now, it sounds crazy and people say it sounds like an atheist church. Oh, no, it’s community, like the Rotary Club is a community.

Nobody calls them a church. Our focus is on education and science, philosophy. We have great speakers; people who challenge your thinking process about stuff like death and dying. What do death and dying mean to an atheist? That’s interesting.

We have polyamory presentations on “What’s polyamory?” and “How does it work?” We show some people that can talk about it. Or swinger, somebody talking about a swinger lifestyle. Now, what church is going to let you talk about swinging or polyamory?

Jacobsen: Not many.

Ray: No, you would be shocked at the number of polyamorous in the atheist community, lots of poly people. About 30 percent of our group in Oasis is poly or poly-friendly. The fact is, there’s probably poly people in churches too.

They couldn’t say it. Or they’d get thrown it. Does that answer your question?

14. Jacobsen: That does, and I’m out of them. So, thank you much for your time, Darrel.

Ray: My pleasure.

References

  1. ABC News. (n.d.). Atheists Have Best Sex Lives, Claims Psychologist. Retrieved from https://www.webcitation.org/5ywc4WxKy?url=http://abcnews.go.com/Health/atheists-best-sex-lives-claims-kansas-psychologists-survey/story?id=13679076&singlePage=true.
  2. An Atheist. (2010, May 20). Darrel W. Ray Speaks Out!. Retrieved from https://www.webcitation.org/5z9zjyAsh?url=http://www.anatheist.net/2010/05/darrel-w-ray-speaks-out/.
  3. Filipino Freethinkers. (2014, August 3). A Conversation with Darrel Ray. Retrieved from http://filipinofreethinkers.org/2014/08/03/a-conversation-with-darrel-ray/.
  4. Eberhard, J.T. (2014, November 12).  Darrel Ray enters the world of podcasting with Secular Sexuality!. Retrieved from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2014/11/darrel-ray-enters-the-world-of-podcasting-with-secular-sexuality/#so34SDUMC5VAcpSY.99.
  5. Gray, H.T. (2009, June 12). New support group Recovering Religionists helps people who leave the church. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20090617033259/http://www.kansascity.com/238/story/1249250.html.
  6. Myers, P.Z. (2011, January 24). Prying into your dirty, dirty secrets. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20110303204654/http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/01/prying_into_your_dirty_dirty_s.php.
  7. Teaming Up. (2016).  About Darrel W. Ray, Ed.D.. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20120324135226/http://www.teaming-up.com/drdray_bio.html.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Recovering from Religion.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 15, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/ray; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] BA, Sociology/Anthropology; MA, Religion; Doctorate, Psychology.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from Religion [Online].February 2018; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, February 15). Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from ReligionRetrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/ray.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from Religion. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, February. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/ray>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from Religion.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/ray.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from Religion.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (February 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/ray.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from ReligionIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/ray>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from ReligionIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/ray.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from Religion.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 16.A (2018):February. 2018. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/ray>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Dr. Darrel Ray on Christian Fundamentalism and Sex: Founder, Recovering from Religion [Internet]. (2018, February; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/ray.

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. 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 and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: February 8, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 5,604

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Rick Rosner and I conduct a conversational series entitled Ask A Genius on a variety of subjects through In-Sight Publishing on the personal and professional website for Rick. Rick exists on the World Genius Directory listing as the world’s second highest IQ at 192 based on several ultra-high IQ test scores developed by independent psychometricians. Kirk Kirkpatrick earned a score at 185, near the top of the listing, on a mainstream IQ test, the Stanford-Binet. Both scores on a standard deviation of 15. A sigma of ~6.13 for Rick – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 2,314,980,850 – and ~5.67 for Kirk – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 136,975,305. Of course, if a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population. This amounts to a joint interview or conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick, Rick Rosner, and myself on the “American Disease,” as identified and labeled by Kirk, and “Super Empowerment,” as observed and named by Rick.

Keywords: general intelligence, Kirk Kirkpatrick, Rick Rosner, sigma, Stanford-Binet, World Genius Directory.

Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”[1],[2]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, let’s open the discussion with the election and lead into healthcare. Rick, I believe you had some thoughts on the election. We had some discussions before.

Rick Rosner: Kirk wanted to go deeper than that. Right before we started taping, he wanted to talk about deeper causes because everybody has had a stomach full of the more obvious proximate causes, but I believe deeper trends help generate the situate we’re in.

Kirk Kirkpatrick: Yes, I think he’s right. If I can start the conversation, my background is rather diverse considering most Americans. I lived in 8 countries. I have probably have been to every country in the northern hemisphere. I speak several languages.

My wife is a native Chinese. I tend to take a more international look at things. But when I returned back to living in the United States, one the things that struck me was the way people think they are entitled to hold an opinion.

And they confuse the entitlement of holding an opinion with the veracity of the opinion. In other words, “I have a right to hold an opinion, and that means you need to consider this opinion as valid.” So, I see, if I can give an example.

If I had never been to LA and I was speaking with Rick, and we were having a discussion about Los Angeles, and Rick said to me, “You know, Kirk, I grew up here. I lived here all of my life.” I would start deferring to him about finding out what Los Angeles was like.

I would be the last person in the world to start arguing with him about a place I had never been to before, and that he happened to live in and had grown up in, and is a rational, intelligent human being. Do you understand my point?

Rosner: Yup.

Jacobsen: Yes.

Rosner: And I agree with it. I’ve been calling it “super empowerment.” Where a lot of our tech and social media give people reinforcement of the idea that whatever you believe must be the truth, you’re entitled to spread that truth by whatever means necessary.

Kirkpatrick: The evangelists, I think that’s a very good point. The way I put it, or the succinct way I say it, “A Google search does not an expert make.” Because you Googled an article and read it doesn’t even tell me that you 1) had the background to understand the article that you read or 2), and more importantly, to validate the article and find out whether or not the author knew what he was talking about.

Rosner: I heard on NPR yesterday, day before. Some country or entity wants to install something before you’re allowed to comment on the article. You have to take a quiz on the article to make sure you even read it and understood it.

Kirkpatrick: [Laughing].

Jacobsen: [Laughing] That’s very good.

Kirkpatrick: I can give you a perfect example that will illustrate it excellently. If you remember a while back, we did a deal, or I say we were part of a deal, with Iran to try to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons.

While that was going on, I had a phone call from a woman who claimed to be from my congress, which I don’t believe. But she said she was. I’ll quote her as quickly or as accurately as I can. She wanted to know my opinion on “Obama’s deal with Iran.”

And those were her exact words. I said to her, “Ma’am, can I ask you a couple of questions first?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “What is your opinion on Obama’s deal with Iran?” She said, “I don’t like it.”

Rosner: Sure.

Kirkpatrick: I said, “Have you been to Iran?” She said, “No.” I said, “Can you name 5 cities in Iran?” She said, “No.” I said, “How about 3?” She said, “No.” I said, “Can you name the countries that border Iran?” She said, “No.” I said, “Then, what is it that bothers you about this deal?” She said, “It threatens Israel.” I said, “That sounds reasonable. Can you name 5 cities in Israel?” She said, “No.” I said, “Can you name 3?”

She said, “No.” I said, “Can you name the countries that border Israel?” She said, “No.” I said, “Have you ever visited the place or been there?” She said, “No.”

I said, “Then allow me to answer your question.” I said, “Firstly, I don’t know any deal that Obama did with Iran, but I know a deal that the P5+1 nations did with Iran under the auspices of the Security Council at the UN. If that’s the one that you’re referring to, I’ve been to Iran and can easily name 5 cities in the place, and can tell you every country that touches it.”

I continued, “And on top of that, I lived in Israel. So, 5 cities are really easy. I can tell you every country that touches Israel. I have been to all of them. And in spite of all of this, I still don’t know enough about this arms deal to form an opinion one way or another. So, the operative question for me is, ‘Why do you care what I think? And why do you even have an opinion?’”

Of course, she hung the phone up.

Rosner: Nice.

Kirkpatrick: That’s my point. You’re going to have an opinion on an arms deal that you incorrectly describe to these people, and it’s an arms deal! You know, it’s like, who are you?

Rosner: What she characterized as an arms deal was the nuclear weapons development negotiation going on, I guess, right?

Kirkpatrick: She meant the P5+1 nations’ deal with Iran. But my point is, you’re going to form an opinion about something like that. You’re not bothering to educate yourself? Not knowing the countries that border Iran?

It isn’t that advanced. Let’s put it this way, if Rick and I were talking, and Rick put an equation in front of me that said, “y+ 8=4,” and I looked at him and said, “You can’t add letters to numbers.” I’m not sure he’d take my opinion on math very seriously.

Rosner: Yes, Yes.

Kirkpatrick: That’s the point I’m trying to make. This is what I call the “American Disease.” Where because we have TV, cable news, and Google, we think, “Oh, I’ll Google this.” The American becomes unaware of the fact that the guy who wrote the article doesn’t know any more about the subject than he does. He’s writing down what somebody else has said, over and over again.

Rosner: I’ve watched a lot of the middle to Left-leaning news. I watched a lot of MSNBC. I reluctantly watch CNN. With Fox News, at least you know, you’re getting biased news. CNN presents itself as news and tries to be even handed, or at least they present the appearance of being even handed.

That involves assembling these panels of 6 or 8 people. Most of whom either don’t know what they’re talking about or who are dispensing fairly pure bullshit. And this was a staple of coverage during the election. CNN has stayed with that format.

All of the little tricks they learned about drawing in eyeballs during the election. These cross-partisan panels. People on Trump’s side. People on the other side. Countdown clocks, town halls, they’ve kept it all. It’s as if the election is still going on.

It is endless presentations of uninformed and/or deliberately misleading opinion.

Kirkpatrick: Yes, I have to give you credit here because I can’t stomach any of it. I watch no, absolutely zero, television news.  So, you understand, I can’t do it.

Rosner: I used to write jokes for late night TV. Which meant that I…

Kirkpatrick: you had to…

Rosner: Yes, I had to be informed. I’ve kept the habit. Much to the detriment of my blood pressure.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Kirkpatrick: Here’s what I advise my friends who come and ask me, because my news is a little tough, in that, I speak multiple languages. I am able to read Het Parool in Holland or Die Welt in German. So, I get a little different viewpoint.

But what I tell them is to go to Google News, if they go down to Google News at the bottom, there’s a link that says, “Other languages.” Or there’s about 20 overseas editions of Google News that are English, but presented from the perspective of the person in that country.

So, for example, India has an English Google News and Australia has an English Google News, Israel has an English Google News, and South Africa has an English Google News. If you click that, then there’s every article that you’ll never see in the United States.

Rosner: That’s really good to know. I get sick of my three stupid go-to sources. The ones that I can stomach. I go through it pretty fast. I’m unnecessarily informed after going through it.

Kirkpatrick: They all have to buy it. That’s why I say, “If you get a bunch of them, you read them in the middle.” The other thing I tell people is that if you want to, for example, tell me about Germany and the problem they’re having, or perhaps not having, with the immigrants, and then try to sit there and argue with me.

First thing I’m going to do. I’m going to research it in the German press. Because when I lived in Europe, sometimes, you can see the European press writing in glee about a problem The United of States was having.

When you look down into the problems, it wasn’t nearly as bad. There was a lot added to it because they wanted that. That goes in all directions for any country. I’m not blaming Europeans or anybody else.

Rosner: I had a discussion with a super conservative friend about Sweden being the rape capital of Europe because of the Muslims. My buddy is an artist, which means he’s using his eyes and hands all day but his ears are free.

He pipes in ten hours a day of conservative talk about this stuff. He is very informed on all the conservative talking points. The story about this rape in Sweden. You poke at it a little bit. It starts to fall apart because it starts turning into mush where you really have to do a lot of research on it.

It’s all the parts, but you’re not left with anything because now you’re left with uncertainty. One reason that Sweden seems rapey is that they have a super inclusive definition of sexual assault that can include things such as micro aggressions.

Kirkpatrick: It is worse than that, okay? Now, let me give you an example, my company, the one I am the CEO of, has about 15 employees who has 10 on contract. We build countrywide telecommunication systems, but we generally use the manpower of whoever is buying our system to build it.

So, let’s get to Sweden, I’m talking to some young thing in the bar. I tell her I’m the CEO of a telecommunication company. Then we go to bed because she thinks I’m hot. In the next morning, I get a phone call.

I say, “I’ve got to do this and that. It’s my accountant. I don’t have a secretary.” She asks, “How big is your company?” I reply, “We have five employees and ten contractors.” Now, she thought I was this rich Apple type CEO, but, in fact, now she found out that my company is not as big as she thought it was.

That’s right; I deceived her. That’s rape after the fact. That’s what Julian Assange has been accused of; that exact thing. That he lied to the woman about who he was. I’m not going to show what they do about it, but I don’t think that that’s right in the other direction.

But it’s the same thing when you’re talking to a conservative about the crime rate in the UK. If I raise my fist to you in the UK, then I’ve assaulted you, even though I’ve never hit you. In the United States, that’s not a violent crime and in the UK it is.

But I think that’s my point in the case of discussing this about Sweden. I will move this on social media. This will come up and almost lead into the conversation. A guy who is not only Swedish, but he lives there. He’s living there now. He’s never lived any place else.

I’ll still have Americans who argue with him. Sure, that’s much more.

Rosner: Yes, so, in a deeper sense or looking at its people feeling super empowered, at the same time, they’re almost more manipulable than at a lot of other points in history.

Kirkpatrick: Does that mean the Dunning-Kruger effect?

Rosner: Yes, I love that thing. I tweeted about that during the election so many times. To explain to everybody, the Dunning-Kruger Effect, let me explain: in movies, there are magical characters.  Often, in movies, dumb people have a special wisdom. They know they’re dumb.

Forrest Gump, he’s retarded. He’s got an IQ 70. Yet, he’s full of this wisdom, a deeper wisdom that goes beyond his academic difficulties. That’s in the movies. In real life, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is that somebody who’s dumb is also dumb about their level of dumbness.

So, a lot of people who are dumb think they’re super smart because they’re too dumb to realize that they’re dumb. There’s nothing magic about them. There’s no deep wisdom about them. There’s a deep assurance that they know what’s what.

They’ve been catered to by these news sources. Fox being the first one to it. I’m not sure my understanding is completely accurate, but it is my understanding. That 30-40 years ago conservative think-tanks started researching how to win people.

They realized that dumb, colourful, easy branding, easy issues were the way to grab low information – meaning dumb – voters, and yank them around. They started by that.  Anyway, Fox News has been going for 37 years. People have their brain tenderized.

They are super confident about what they think, but they’re not good in the head.

Kirkpatrick: I think you’re giving them a little too much credit.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Kirkpatrick: Let me tell you what mean by that. I think this is more Rupert saying that there’s the gullible objects. First, what I’ll say is this, we say it about CNN and MSNBC. I think MSNBC tried to be FOX a little bit.

But what I would say is most of the American media and a lot of European media are biased towards sensationalists. If it bleeds, it leads. They want to be sensational. CNN is the worst with this, but Fox is appealing to a specific constituency that Rupert Murdoch realized CNN wasn’t available to feed these people.

When I was dealing with a man who was very close in the group, I helped set up Sky Latin America for him down in Latin America. He told me that they had brought in a bunch of marketers who’d do a marketing plan for Sky Latin American.

The groups produced a document about a 158 pages long. Rupert wasn’t there.  Rupert came down. My friend whose name happens to be Scott, came in to say you may have this marketing plan in his hand, which they put together.

He said, “I handed it to Rupert.” As I see Rupert glance at the cover, he said, “This hand never stopped moving towards the next page.” Finally, he dropped it. He looked at him. He said, “Scott, you buy the football. You put dishes on the roofs. That’s the marketing.” You get it?

I would say deep understanding of these markets. 80% of the decisions when multi-channel video is made on the basis of sports program in Latin America; soccer is everything. So, Rupert was much more fundamental than Scott was.

Guys, it’s really simple. These guys want football, buy the rights, then y’all run to you to get it, okay? Same with FOX. You could out that conservative being this The people will have confirmation by us. They want that to be right and will turn you into the exclusivity of everybody.

Rosner: I can’t get me to shut up about the size of the American population. 325-329 million people You got the dumbest half of the country. Then half of that again is the dumbest half of the dumbest half. That’s still 80 million people.

Kirkpatrick: FOX has this subscribership of about 30 million. So, that’s not even half of that, but look at how much money they’ve made.

Rosner: By the way, this is little off what you were saying, where the coverage is people who are on the Left. They lost the election, lost the government. All the branches feel pretty angst and bereft.

Perhaps, beyond even the immediate or midterm consequences of the laws, I think it’s hard on people’s sadness that the coverage took the form of sports coverage during the election. So, it’s not the political implications, but there’s this emotional bond you have with your political team now.

The way that people either love or hate you the way they do with the Patriots.

Kirkpatrick: You definitely have this, but I think there’s ignorance. I know that there’s a lot of – I didn’t say – angst because we lost the election, but this in my opinion is fundamentally different. I’ll tell you why for a couple of reasons. Number one, as I told you, I’ve lived more than half of my life in other countries.

You might imagine other countries follow American politics closely. The reason is because it affects their lives. But until the second George Bush election, I had never seen that end up with the American people. What I mean by that is people saying, “I don’t like your government at all, but I think the Americans are best people who work.” You understand what I mean?

Rosner: We’re starting to get hit hard with our own brushes.

Kirkpatrick: Yes. After the second George Bush election, people started saying, “Straighten this out, if that is the way you are, then, maybe, the American people are not who we thought they were.” I don’t think the average American understands the picture that we started painting for over the border.

If I can give you an example, did either of you gentlemen see the movie ‘The American Sniper’?

Jacobsen: Nope.

Rosner: No.

Kirkpatrick: I haven’t either, on purpose.  But I know about the scene because I went out and looked at it, because of the description of the scene. The first scene of this movie they’re attacking a neighborhood in Iraq. I believe it’s Iraq.

The red’s a woman in a Hijab and Abaya, where she’s got a 10-year-old kid.

Rosner: I heard about that scene too.

Kirkpatrick: You’ve heard about it? So, he shoots the woman. The whole time he’s sitting there saying, “Please don’t throw the grenade, please don’t throw.” But she starts to throw and he kills her. The little 10-year-old kid picks up the grenade and he starts back with this.

Of course, to make it more dramatic, his partner says, “If you’re wrong about this, you’re going to go to prison.” And, of course, he hesitates, the boy throws the grenade, but it doesn’t make it all the way to Americans. So, he saved their lives.

I say to people, “If you watch this scene in this movie, the only thing about the movie is that you convert the American soldier into a Soviet Union informant and make the woman and the boy Afghans, how would you feel? Would you feel the Soviet guy was a hero because he is saving the other Soviet soldiers from this evil Afghani woman and her child, as they’re invading their country?”

Rosner: Not so, much.

Kirkpatrick: Not so much, what’s different about the situation with Chris, Scott? We’re invading their country. They’re defending their homes the same way. Yet, now, he’s a hero and the whole world looks and wonders.

Let me give you a second example to chock the crap out of them, my wife is Chinese. She became an American citizen. She applied for American Citizenship. They had a nationalization ceremony. 80 people got their citizenship. I went to it. 

While she went to what should have been a solemn ceremony, they had a big screen in the centre of the room that would pop down when they played the national anthem. People stood up. After they said their oaths and stuff, they handed out to these little American flags.

After the ceremony, the screen comes back down, then they start playing Proud to be an American, the country music song. A woman walks on stage swinging a huge American flag back and forth. She yells at these guys and says, “Now, new American citizens stand up, wave your flag and sing.”

Now, I’m sure my wife has never heard this song before. She’s sitting right in front of me. They (new immigrants) were sitting together. But my point was when the song is over, of course, the 80 guys stood up and smiled and waved their flags.

It was as soon as it was over my wife not knowing what she was doing looks over at me six rows across the room and says out loud, “Just like IN CHINA, So Communist.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Kirkpatrick: Guys, that’s exactly what I was thinking. I spent time behind the Iron Curtain. I was thinking “This looks eerily like in Moscow.” What do you mean stand up, wave your flag and sing? Is that an order? I never did anything for it. Scott, you’re Canadian, right?

Jacobsen: I am, yes.

Kirkpatrick: Yet, can you imagine a lumberjack in the middle of the nationalization ceremony?

Jacobsen: [Laughing] If on the condition that it was a replay of a Monty Python song.

Kirkpatrick: Oh, right, right. And you don’t have the guy doing Doug & Bob McKenzie impressions from the podium. No, I can end this by saying my team I hired him out of Moscow. He grew up in the Soviet Union and has lived in the US for 5 years. ,

He came to me and said “One of the big differences between the Soviet Union and the US is that we have understood that our propaganda was all bullshit, “But you guys believe yours!”

Rosner: Because it comes out of an earnest people because the basic American values are not cynical. The 20th century marked the decay of American institutions that people used to believe in wholeheartedly: the church, Boy Scouts, patriotism, and so on. Everything got torched.

That stuff worked great for a while. So, it’s easy to sell people on stuff that used to work without examination and qualification. I remember in the ‘60s being taught critical thinking skills in elementary school.

There was a lesson on the nine ways advertising manipulates you.  It was good to have that.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Rosner: If that is still taught, but I know that we’re in the middle of a bunch of new technology and new social media, that makes us vulnerable because we haven’t learned the considerate bullshit. We’re still virgins.

When I worked in bars, one of my jobs was walking through the bar and looking for underage people who’d snuck in one way or another. One way I found them was I’d look for the clump of lame guys over there night after night without picking anybody up.

If there were several of those gathered around somebody, I knew at the center of the cluster of lame-Os would be an underage girl who had yet to bullshit. She didn’t have the experience yet on how to detect bullshit, how to push it away.

We are in that situation, where there’s all this new stuff. It looks shiny and powerful and makes us feel powerful. It makes us manipulable.

2. Jacobsen: Then maybe a closure question for the two of you: do you think social media, the new technology, amplifies the American Disease as you call it, Kirk, or the Super Empowered population as you call it, Rick?

Kirkpatrick: I think we’re both right. What I mean by this is I think it amplifies the American Disease, but as Rick implies, it’s probably going to be solved. In the end, it’s probably going to be the closest to the point that, as he mentioned before, you’re going to pull something and it’s going to pop up.

Instead, I’ve marked this is incorrect for anybody who might read.

Rosner: I totally agree with that. It takes a while to get resistant. When people first had cell phones, only 10% of the population had cell phones. We saw a lot of behaviour because it made everybody else pissed off: talking really loud on your phone in the line at the bank or in a restaurant.

Over time, people calmed down with that. Now, the new prop is texting all over the place, in crosswalks or while driving. Eventually, people will calm down with that and will learn to make better use of technology and understand. They will be less swayed by it. The trouble is by that time. It will be two or three new ways of tech to mess with people, but I remain optimistic.

Kirkpatrick: I do too.

Rosner: Is that a good place to end right there?

Jacobsen: That is a good line to end on, I think.

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  40. Strike TV [SmartestGuyITW]. (2008, November 10). Smartest Guy in the World EP 6 – Money. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3EaX6ULaJo.
  41. Strike TV [SmartestGuyITW]. (2008, November 10). Smartest Guy in the World EP 7 –The Fate of the Universe. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJW2SoCxFfo.
  42. Strike TV [SmartestGuyITW]. (2008, November 10). Smartest Guy in the World EP 8 – Dark Matter. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJW2SoCxFfo.
  43. The Daily [WatchTheDaily]. (2012, April 23). Is this the World’s Smartest Man?.  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYo46N-Kfuw.
  44. The World Genius Directory (2013). Rick Rosner, World Genius Directory: 2013 Genius of the Year – America. Retrieved from http://www.psiq.org/world_genius_directory_awards/goty2013rickrosner.pdf.
  45. Trivia Hall of Fame. (2004, March). Interview: Rick Rosner, quiz show writer. Retrieved from http://www.triviahalloffame.com/rosner.php.
  46. Tsatsou, M. (2012, October 31). Evangelos Katsioulis Has World’s Highest IQ: 198. Retrieved from http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/10/31/evangelos-katsioulis-has-worlds-highest-iq-198/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Kirk Kirkpatrick: Founder & CEO, MDS America Inc. Corporation; Rick Rosner: Former Comedy Writer, Jimmy Kimmel Live!; Former Editor, Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 8, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/american-disease-super-empowerment; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment” [Online].February 2018; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/american-disease-super-empowerment.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, February 8). Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/american-disease-super-empowerment.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, February. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/american-disease-super-empowerment>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/american-disease-super-empowerment.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (February 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/american-disease-super-empowerment.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/american-disease-super-empowerment>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/american-disease-super-empowerment.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 16.A (2018):February. 2018. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/american-disease-super-empowerment>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment” [Internet]. (2018, February; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/american-disease-super-empowerment.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: February 1, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 6,856

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

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.

References

  1. Angeles, M. (2012, August 20). World Trade Center ‘cross’ causes religious dispute among Fil-Ams. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/global-filipino/08/20/12/world-trade-center-cross-causes-religious-dispute-among-fil-ams.
  2. Atheist Republic. (2014, September 10). Marissa Torres Langseth: Freethinking groups can achieve a common goal. Retrieved from http://www.atheistrepublic.com/gallery/marissa-torres-langseth-freethinking-groups-can-achieve-common-goal.
  3. Comelab, M. (2012, May 26). Filipino Atheists Becoming More Active. Retrieved from http://mail.reasonism.org/main-content/item/2689-filipino-atheists-becoming-more-active.
  4. Duke, B. (2011, April 28). The Pope’s gonna have a cow. Catholic Philippines gains its first atheist society. Retrieved from http://freethinker.co.uk/2011/04/28/the-pope%E2%80%99s-gonna-have-a-cow-catholic-philippines-gains-its-first-atheist-society/.
  5. French, M. (2017, March 5). The New Atheists of the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/new-atheists-philippines/518175/.
  6. Langseth, M.T. (2011, June 1). Atheism in the Philippines: A Personal Story. Retrieved from https://thehumanist.com/news/hnn/atheism-in-the-philippines-a-personal-story.
  7. Langseth, M.T. (2017, April 14). FROM SUPERSTITION TO REASON: JOURNEYS TO HUMANISM/ATHEISM BY HAPI. Retrieved from http://thescientificatheist.com/author/marissa/.
  8. Langseth, M.T. (2013, March 20). Kwentong Kapuso: Registered nurses and the alphabet soup of nursing. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/pinoyabroad/300110/kwentong-kapuso-registered-nurses-and-the-alphabet-soup-of-nursing/story/.
  9. Meyer, E. (2017, March 7). Atheist missionaries are spreading humanist ideals in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://wwrn.org/articles/46700/.
  10. Universal Life Church Monstery. (2017, March 27). Filipino Atheists Pulling from the Christian Missionary Playbook. Retrieved from https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2017/03/filipino-atheists-using-the-christian-missionary-playbook/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 1, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[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.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Five) [Online].February 2018; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, February 1). An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Five)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Five). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, February. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (February 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Five)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Five)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 16.A (2018):February. 2018. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Five) [Internet]. (2018, February; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-five.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: January 22, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,579

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. She discusses: Societies and women’s dress; fear for women Millennials; the Humanist party; policies and platform recommendations of the party; normalization of humanism and ordinary humanists; demonization of the non-believer population in America in general; humanism and politics; non-religious invocations; emotionally potent lies; risk of social suicide; and social ostracism.

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

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If you look at the lists of restrictions on women, it’s quite obvious. I mean just read the text by implication if you’re being mild about it. ‘Thy ox, thy ass, thy wife, thy manservant, thy maidservant’ and so on, right there, you have a wife as property in one of the Ten Commandments.

But then also in terms of what is considered appropriate dress for women, as if society at large has a say in how a woman should dress, right?

Langseth: Yes, I couldn’t understand that before. Why are the men allowed to control women’s bodies? It’s because of religion. A woman is supposed to be subservient and submissive to their husbands. That’s what religion taught them.

2. Jacobsen: And my fear, even within my own generation, the Millennial, the women coming out of these traditions with very comprehensive worldviews in practice, in theory, in perspective.

Even if coming now to the label of secular or free thinker and so on, will harbour the same self-doubt and idea, that they are to be of service to the men in their lives, especially in intimate settings such as probably one of the most important decisions a person can make in their life, their partner, their marriage partner or spouse. 

This stuff takes a long time to decode and unwind.

Langseth: Yes, it will take centuries, maybe. But it’s happening now. I don’t think I can see it in my lifetime, but if you promote humanism with me and all of us promoting this, that we are all equal.

There are human rights and all of these humanistic values and ethical values, the next generation, maybe not yours, will be a lot better. But we’ll never know.

3. Jacobsen: Are there any topics that you would like to explore?

Langseth: I’m excited about this Humanist party. If we have humanist constituents in the Philippines, we will be known better. They will see us better even if we lose the first few years. This is where my excitement is coming from right now, to be honest with you.

4. Jacobsen: What are some of its policies and platform recommendations?

Langseth: It’s all about human rights, LGBT rights, and women’s rights. Of course, there is democracy in the Philippines, but now it’s becoming a dictatorship by Duterte. We’re more about the promotion of reason and critical thinking like we are educating our children.

If each person in the Philippines is a critical thinker and will not even mention religion, we are better off. And of course, the Churches will close down because nobody will go there anymore. Everybody will go to the library.

This is why we have libraries. I have a library in my house in the Philippines for HAPI. But I’m excited that if this will push through, there will be more awareness in the Philippines of our humanist constituencies.

Not even popularity, it will open a lot of minds and this platform will become bigger. It will become bigger than what we have now and they will no longer be afraid to come out. This is what I’m hoping for.

5. Jacobsen: So, is it a process of normalization of humanism and ordinary humanists?

Langseth: Yes, something like that. But I hope this will push through; we have a plan already. Because as law if we are always under the radar, if we are hiding all the time, like our HAPI Con, it was small.

Few people knew about it. Even if they knew, they were afraid to attend because they think it’s a sin to be a humanist or to get out of their religion. And if we have a party and it’s open, out in the open, people will become bolder to come out. And I am sure one of these days, this will happen. The first few Years we will lose but that’s fine. We will win eventually.

6. Jacobsen: In America, there is a lot of demonization of the humanist population, the non-believer population in general.

Langseth: Yes, in general, in fact, I have met a candidate somewhere in the South. He became my friend. He is running not as a congressman, but in the municipal elections or something like this.

He said he is an atheist, but he cannot tell them he is an atheist. He said he told everyone he’s a humanist. And when you ask what is a humanist, it’s like a vague explanation.

7. Jacobsen: Yes, it’s like when you’re talking to the kids. It’s like the “human-” and the “-ism,” thinking, “I believe in people.” Another thinking, “Oh, I believe in people too.” That’s exactly what it is.

Langseth: Yes, something like that [Laughing]. Because he’s afraid that he will not win if he comes out as an atheist. This is pervasive.

Jacobsen: Yes, it’s the same in America. Statistically, there has to be a lot of atheists in political office.

Langseth: I’m sure.

8. Jacobsen: I’ve been in contact with one politician. It’s a woman. She’s an atheist. And she did an invocation. It was an irreligious statement of ‘let’s all get together and be together.’

A latter middle age, white, overweight Southern accented man got up and made the statement that the policy says that this is going to be an opening prayer to a God – emphasis on God – and he then began his opening prayer to overturn the invocation by stating that ‘God, we ask your forgiveness for our pride, et cetera.’

It was passive aggressive. I thought he was a prima donna about it. In America, the main activists for women’s reproductive rights in light of the Trump administration like, for instance, the Global Gag order, have been women.

Because it more directly impacts them. Women seem more acutely aware of it. My hope is that at least in the non-belief sector of America that people won’t have to be so closeted. That it will be a dual-gender phenomenon, I hope.

Langseth: Yes, it’s like cats. Herding cats is a daunting task. I said that to myself a long time ago in 2011 when I made PATAS. But if we have loud voices, it will become louder even if we are cats.

That’s what I’m saying. If you’re standing for what is good, even if we are cats and we become more vocal, they can hear us. Maybe, they will hear us. I have some successes because I am vocal.

In 2010, we had a high school reunion in Cebu, Philippines. I told them, “I am an atheist. I do not like prayers. I will not tolerate any prayers in front of me.” True enough, I got my wish. There were no prayers. Only flag raising and singing of our national anthem.

There were no prayers. Ask me why.

Jacobsen: Why?

Langseth: Because I paid, mostly [Laughing]. Which means that you are powerful when having knowledge plus money. If you can afford it, right? Look at that, I spent 2,000 dollars on that reunion in 2010. My husband was even with me.

There were no prayers because I told them there are no prayers, I don’t believe in prayers. And that’s a high school reunion. 80% of my classmates; they’re still religious. But they respected my wishes because I’m the one paying for the thing.

So, that you are powerful when you have the means. I would not be able to do this thing if I didn’t have the means. Look at PATAS, when it was launched, the launch was in an open space. We call it Lunetta Park, which is in Manila.

What they did was they went to Lunetta Park with a banner saying, “Philippines Atheist and Agnostic Society,” PATAS in short. We had books because I sent them a lot of books. Richard Dawkins books and Hitchens’ books and Sagan’s books, a lot of lovely books that are not religious.

Because you cannot find these books in Manila, in the Philippines. I told them I could not sleep when they launched when they had that launching in Lunetta Park because I was afraid they would get killed.

Jacobsen: That is a legitimate fear for many people, so many non-believers.

Langseth: Would you believe nobody got killed?

Jacobsen: I will happily believe that.

Langseth: I sent them a lot of funding for their dinner and for their nice things so they’ll stay there for a while. They said, of course, a lot of people asked them what is atheism? What is that? What is that all about? Because a lot of people in the Philippines are ignorant about atheism and about Humanism.

9. Jacobsen: And why is that? Because some pastors, preachers, and priests are telling emotionally potent lies about the character and inherent nature of people who do not believe in their doctrines.

Langseth: Right, these charlatans are everywhere.

Jacobsen: Yes, a man in a dress getting mad at transgenders or trans people.

Langseth: Yes, and in fact, I always get into debates online because I am vocal. We had one of the earlier debate forums. It was “Is there a God or not?” And I was one of the admins.

This was before I made PATAS. My goodness, Filipinos were killing me online. “You’re a devil woman,” “you’re a bride of Satan,” “you’re a whore,” and so on. It was based on “Why are you doing this?” And some of them are my friends.

At least 1/3rd of my friends unfriended me.

10. Jacobsen: That’s the thing. It’s social suicide to reject the dominant culture, the dominant mythology in a lot of cases.

Langseth: Right, and of course, when someone in our forum says, “I lost my friends because of this. I say that’s not new to me. I lost about 1/3rd of them. And some of them are close to me. Some of them are in New York City.”

Jacobsen: Do you ever run into them?

Langseth: Yes, they blocked me.

11. Jacobsen: It’s not only social ostracism from a secular point of view, but it’s probably from their point of view preventing Satan from entering their lives? Not necessarily you, but the influence of the dark one?

Langseth: [Laughing] My God, I’ll tell you something. I recently reconnected with a co-worker in the Philippines. His name is Bello. You reminded me of this. When I reconnected with him, he read about me in my information.

So, he read that I made this and did that. He said, “You are the anti-Christ.” Because according to his religion, there is an anti-Christ coming from America. And he said that must be me!

Jacobsen: Of course, not only are you the anti-Christ, but the anti-Christ coming from America; of course, Jesus Christ is coming from toast.

Langseth: [Laughing] coming from toast! And this man, I knew him personally because we used to work together! It’s funny; he believed I am the anti-Christ from America. He even blocked me.

He sent me a threatening note before he blocked me. Before that, we were debating too. He was debating me. Of course, he cannot reconvert me. Because he can’t reconvert me, he blocked me. He mentioned that his church knows about me now.

They’re following me already [Laughing]. I was laughing.

Jacobsen: I’m hearing the Jaws terror music when they’re following you.

Langseth: Yes! This man, I knew him from before. It’s so ironic because this man is not even clean as a person. He loves women. He’s married, but he likes women. He flirts with a lot of women. Now, he’s telling me that I am the bad one. That I am the evil one.

References

  1. Angeles, M. (2012, August 20). World Trade Center ‘cross’ causes religious dispute among Fil-Ams. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/global-filipino/08/20/12/world-trade-center-cross-causes-religious-dispute-among-fil-ams.
  2. Atheist Republic. (2014, September 10). Marissa Torres Langseth: Freethinking groups can achieve a common goal. Retrieved from http://www.atheistrepublic.com/gallery/marissa-torres-langseth-freethinking-groups-can-achieve-common-goal.
  3. Comelab, M. (2012, May 26). Filipino Atheists Becoming More Active. Retrieved from http://mail.reasonism.org/main-content/item/2689-filipino-atheists-becoming-more-active.
  4. Duke, B. (2011, April 28). The Pope’s gonna have a cow. Catholic Philippines gains its first atheist society. Retrieved from http://freethinker.co.uk/2011/04/28/the-pope%E2%80%99s-gonna-have-a-cow-catholic-philippines-gains-its-first-atheist-society/.
  5. French, M. (2017, March 5). The New Atheists of the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/new-atheists-philippines/518175/.
  6. Langseth, M.T. (2011, June 1). Atheism in the Philippines: A Personal Story. Retrieved from https://thehumanist.com/news/hnn/atheism-in-the-philippines-a-personal-story.
  7. Langseth, M.T. (2017, April 14). FROM SUPERSTITION TO REASON: JOURNEYS TO HUMANISM/ATHEISM BY HAPI. Retrieved from http://thescientificatheist.com/author/marissa/.
  8. Langseth, M.T. (2013, March 20). Kwentong Kapuso: Registered nurses and the alphabet soup of nursing. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/pinoyabroad/300110/kwentong-kapuso-registered-nurses-and-the-alphabet-soup-of-nursing/story/.
  9. Meyer, E. (2017, March 7). Atheist missionaries are spreading humanist ideals in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://wwrn.org/articles/46700/.
  10. Universal Life Church Monstery. (2017, March 27). Filipino Atheists Pulling from the Christian Missionary Playbook. Retrieved from https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2017/03/filipino-atheists-using-the-christian-missionary-playbook/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI.

[2] Individual Publication Date: January 22, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[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.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four) [Online].January 2018; 16(A). Available from:  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, January 22). An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, January. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (January 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 16.A (2018):January. 2018. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Four) [Internet]. (2018, January; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-four.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. 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 and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: January 15, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,127

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

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.

References

  1. Angeles, M. (2012, August 20). World Trade Center ‘cross’ causes religious dispute among Fil-Ams. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/global-filipino/08/20/12/world-trade-center-cross-causes-religious-dispute-among-fil-ams.
  2. Atheist Republic. (2014, September 10). Marissa Torres Langseth: Freethinking groups can achieve a common goal. Retrieved from http://www.atheistrepublic.com/gallery/marissa-torres-langseth-freethinking-groups-can-achieve-common-goal.
  3. Comelab, M. (2012, May 26). Filipino Atheists Becoming More Active. Retrieved from http://mail.reasonism.org/main-content/item/2689-filipino-atheists-becoming-more-active.
  4. Duke, B. (2011, April 28). The Pope’s gonna have a cow. Catholic Philippines gains its first atheist society. Retrieved from http://freethinker.co.uk/2011/04/28/the-pope%E2%80%99s-gonna-have-a-cow-catholic-philippines-gains-its-first-atheist-society/.
  5. French, M. (2017, March 5). The New Atheists of the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/new-atheists-philippines/518175/.
  6. Langseth, M.T. (2011, June 1). Atheism in the Philippines: A Personal Story. Retrieved from https://thehumanist.com/news/hnn/atheism-in-the-philippines-a-personal-story.
  7. Langseth, M.T. (2017, April 14). FROM SUPERSTITION TO REASON: JOURNEYS TO HUMANISM/ATHEISM BY HAPI. Retrieved from http://thescientificatheist.com/author/marissa/.
  8. Langseth, M.T. (2013, March 20). Kwentong Kapuso: Registered nurses and the alphabet soup of nursing. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/pinoyabroad/300110/kwentong-kapuso-registered-nurses-and-the-alphabet-soup-of-nursing/story/.
  9. Meyer, E. (2017, March 7). Atheist missionaries are spreading humanist ideals in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://wwrn.org/articles/46700/.
  10. Universal Life Church Monstery. (2017, March 27). Filipino Atheists Pulling from the Christian Missionary Playbook. Retrieved from https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2017/03/filipino-atheists-using-the-christian-missionary-playbook/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI.

[2] Individual Publication Date: January 15, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[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.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three) [Online].January 2018; 16(A). Available from:  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, January 15). An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three)Retrieved from  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, January. 2018. < www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A.  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (January 2018).  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: < www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A.,  www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 16.A (2018):January. 2018. Web. < www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Three) [Internet]. (2018, January; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-three.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. 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 and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 16.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twelve)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: January 8, 2018

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 6,229

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. She discusses: becoming a nurse practitioner, disallowance of freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of movement for women; religious and secular superstitions in medical decisions; assumptions in medical determinations; the God of the gaps; presumption of a family dynamic in declarations at death; evidence for prayer in the medical literature and in practice; complication in terminology for an atheist and an irreligious individual, and secular superstitions; two streams of atheism; other superstitions brought into the formal medical world; conspiratorial mindsets about the FDA; one of the most egregious examples of complementary medicine inundating proper medicine and causing real damage to people’s lives; fasting and health complications; symptoms of renal failure; other concernswith fasting, as a medical professional; and the ubiquitous belief in prayer.

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

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, why did you become a nurse practitioner, to clarify?

Marissa Torres Langseth: To clarify, I became a nurse practitioner specializing in adult health because I wanted autonomy in my profession. I wanted to direct people in what to do. I’m confident I can do it and I did it. Of course, I retired two years ago as a nurse practitioner. I have never been sued.

No complaints with my diagnoses. So far, I did it all and the money was good. However, I need to rest.

2. Jacobsen: For women coming from cultures or subcultures, this can be North America too, of course, that disallow freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of movement as one would like, would you recommend becoming a nurse practitioner for that independence?

Langseth: Absolutely. In fact, I have recommended that all registered nurses become a nurse practitioner because it is different when you are already at that bracket. You function autonomously. You are like a doctor.

Not only that, but there is some form of respect that you don’t get from being a registered nurse. I was a registered nurse for a long time. It was different. Our training is different. Our pay scale is much higher and we are regarded by a lot of doctors, especially the general practitioners, as equals.

For example, when my patient goes to the emergency room, I call them and talk to them as an equal, not as a second-class citizen or a nurse. I’m a nurse practitioner and these doctors, some of them, are arrogant. I’ve met a lot of them.

I put them in their place. Modesty aside, I can say I was a successful nurse practitioner during my time. Really, I love my job. I have helped a lot of families make decisions for themselves because part of our job was to empower families and patients to make decisions for themselves. when you go to the hospital, the doctor will tell you.

No, it should be that they provide options and the patient should choose what they want, not the doctors. Some doctors are stupid. They’re arrogant, in fact, they don’t want to be corrected and they don’t want you to let them know that medicine.

Personally speaking, when I go to the doctor, I tell them, doctor, I’m a nurse practitioner, right away they treat you differently. They treat you like you’re an equal.

3. Jacobsen: In regards to the nursing profession in the medical world, does religious or even secular superstition ever play a part in medical decisions?

Langseth: It’s always a part of that because some of these religious people say, “I’ll pray for you. I hope you become better. We’ll pray for you.” They always have that phrase about praying. For me, that’s nonsense.

I always say, “How could prayers work? You’re in the hospital.” And again, I’m objective. I’m straightforward. If it were my patent, I don’t tell them, “I’ll pray for you.” I always say, “I hope the drugs, the medications, the medical interventions, surgical interventions will work for you.”

I’ve never said pray. However, I’ve heard a lot of doctors, especially the Muslim doctors, they always say, “Okay, we’ll pray for you. We’ll say good graces to you, to Allah.” I still see some of them.

In fact, recently, there’s a doctor who told a patient. I was right in from of him. He said, “I’m sorry but your mother was taken by God already.” I said, “Doctor can’t you say the patient did not make or died because of this?”

4. Jacobsen: Why assume?

Langseth: Yes, they use God to maybe finish the statement, so that they don’t have to explain further. God took your family.

5. Jacobsen: In philosophy, they have the idea of God of the gaps.

Langseth: Yes.

Jacobsen: When you can’t explain something in an argument with a premise or formalized argumentation structure, you say, “God did it,” in essence. 

Langseth: Exactly.

Jacobsen: I feel as though in that context it’s another form of it, but for grief. So, in place of grief, you say, “God took him or her.”

Langseth: I have no objection to that. In fact, it brings comfort to a lot of people, especially again we cannot explain so many things. Even with how much you like to in medicine and technology, we cannot explain. You’re right. God of the gaps. We cannot explain. That’s why they mention it.

And again, I don’t know. I cannot say God took your mother. I cannot say that.

6. Jacobsen: It seems presumptuous because you don’t know the full family dynamic, where everyone’s at in regards to their faith. In some context, I could see an appropriateness for it, not only as a filler for grief but also based on shared religious doctrine and belief. 

But often, even statistically, you should not expect that or use it as a phrase in that a context.

Langseth: It should not be. It’s a little bit unprofessional when they say that. Like, “We’ll pray for your mother.” We’ll pray for your mother? If you were to ask me, you should go to the hospital when you’re sick; otherwise, don’t go there.

It’s the worst place you can be. We have bacteria resistance. Bacteria that will not respond to medications. It’s the worst place you could be, really.

7. Jacobsen: To clarify even further on the prayer example, what is the evidence for prayer or against it in the medical literature and in practice?

Langseth: There was a study. It was in Columbia Presbyterian, about praying. It was specifically for patients who have had open heart surgery if I’m not mistaken. I read the article a long time ago. According to the article or to the study, it did not help.

In fact, it made the patient’s conditions worse. Especially when they told the patient that they’re praying for them, they became anxious and even got worse instead of getting better. Of course, I have this notion that prayers don’t work.

They don’t work. That study not only confirmed my understanding. And this is true that praying for somebody and you’re being prayed for, it makes them uncomfortable and worse in their condition. Although, there was no other study that I have read.

It was only one. But again, tested and proven, it won’t work. For example, patients in the Philippines. They’re poor. My classmates until now, would you believe that? Until now, my classmates in high school still go to quack doctors.

We call them abulerios. Doctors and them will recommend tea leaves or some drink from somewhere. Maybe, they will put charcoal in their wound. Of course, the wound becomes infected. So, I get upset and bothered by these classmates of mine.

That’s why I always get into fights with them. Because I cannot help it. As a medical practitioner, I say, “Why are you going to people who don’t know what medicine is? You will die or it will become worse.”

In fact, one of my colleagues. He’s one of my friends in the Philippines. He recently died. He posted on Facebook that he is sick. I said, “You are sick. Your blood sugar is high. Your blood level: you’re high risk. You need to go to the hospital right now.”

So, after a few days, I don’t know if he listened to me. He was bed bound for a while. He said he was in an out of a doctor. I said, “You don’t need to go to a doctor. You need to go to a hospital because it looks like you have the following.”

Of course, I mentioned my diagnosis according to his symptoms. True enough he had undergone some form of surgery and he died. Even if he believed, he was also an atheist. But even if he believed in science, if he has all these complications, medicine will not work.

8. Jacobsen: There’s a complication there in terms of terminology for an atheist or someone who is irreligious. So, someone could be labeled as having no religious affiliation. That doesn’t leave them unsusceptible to other forms of irrational belief about the world, especially medicine.

Langseth: Even if some people are atheists, some of them still are stubborn. They don’t want to see a doctor. They don’t want to go to a hospital right away. It doesn’t follow that if they’re atheists, they believe in hardcore science or medicine.

Especially in the Philippines, they could be atheist but still because they don’t have money and the means, they still go to these quack doctors for their fever. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, it’s because of poverty. A lot of atheists, members in HAPI, they’re poor.

They cannot afford medicine, so they still go to these quack doctors and boy do they get worse. They get worse, unfortunately.

9. Jacobsen: Also, there are at least 2 streams of atheism. One is “this is the only life I have so I will do the best I can for others and myself. I’m embedded in a social network, so I best take care of my health.”

For instance, “If I have children, I want to be there for them, and my grandchildren.” Another stream is “this is the only life I have and nothing matters and the world is valueless and,” therefore, they fall into some form of nihilism.

They don’t care. They may not have even expressed this explicit belief. So, they don’t go to the doctor. They don’t care about their health. They don’t care about decent behaviour either.  Those are two streams that follow from some atheism.

Langseth: Yes, I agree because I have met both types. I’m sad for the second type of atheism because they think life is only a delusion. They think life is unreal. This is why they don’t care about others. They say they’re atheist.

They pretend to be nice, but inside them and I’ve seen it also, but they don’t care. Because they think life has no purpose and their values, their ethical values are bad also. And some people like that and I’m sad for them.

10. Jacobsen: What about some of the other less known superstitious beliefs in medicine? Such as crystals, homeopathy, and so on, are these ever brought into the formal medical world as far from your experience?

Langseth: We call them alternative treatment or complementary treatment to make it sound better. Like, for example, aromatherapy, massage, and touch therapy, I saw a lot of ads saying alternative medicine or complementary medicine.

Meaning you go there, you have this therapy. Yet, you still believe in taking medications. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you believe in that, like touch therapy and massage, then there’s a problem. They can go together with a massage. You can relax. It’s also relaxation techniques and aromatherapy makes your body relax.

I practice, not aromatherapy, but I like the smell of these types of plants and the massage technique. I love those because it also makes your body feel better afterward, so you can function better. But of course, if you’re sick you go to a doctor, you go to the hospital.

Like Chinese medicine, acupuncture they say it works. Maybe to others, but I don’t know, I haven’t tried it. Homeopathy, maybe, it works to others, but I don’t know. Of course, it isn’t proven that it doesn’t work.

It’s even more expensive. But in a hospital or a nursing home where I work, we don’t apply them. But we do ask our patients if they have that. For example, the plants and the additional things that they do at home or especially using like r ginger plants or other herbs, we ask them.

We try to request them to stop while they are in the hospital. Although, we educate them because education helps a lot. We say that some of these plants are not good, or herbal capsules are not good because they do not undergo FDA experimentation.

They don’t go through the FDA, so some could be lethal in a few drops because I’ve heard a lot of horror stories especially from the Philippines. They try to use, comfrey. It’s a form of plant.

It’s used and some of them have a lot of liver failure because of that plant. Again, it’s difficult when we don’t have regulations like FDA regulations. So, we try to educate our patients not to use them.

11. Jacobsen: What are some responses that come from complementary medical practitioners, if I can call them that, who might have, for instance, a conspiratorial mindset about the FDA?

Langseth: Would you believe it? We have a few nurse practitioners who believe in that. Who are still promoting alternative medicine and, of course, homeopathy; in fact, it’s good you mentioned that. I have a close friend, he moved to Asheville, North Carolina.

He’s a nurse practitioner, but he’s also promoting homeopathy. So, I said, “My goodness, this guy is a wonderful guy, but he believes it works for his patients.” So, I could not even talk to him about it, to be honest with you. With due respect to him, he’s a nurse practitioner. He’s a graduate of Colombia University. He’s promoting homeopathy.

12. Jacobsen: What do you consider one of the most egregious examples of complementary medicine inundating proper medicine and causing real damage to people’s lives?

Langseth: It’s some form of manipulation in the neck instead of going to a real orthopaedic doctor. They go to these types of doctors. Chiropractor! Some of them they go to the chiropractor and I have heard of some people being paralyzed because of that.

Because some chiropractors, they’re not careful. Some are good. I went to one or two, but there were instances when they missed a part and these people become paralyzed and that is dangerous.

So far with the herbal treatments, there are some that work like Warfarin. So, if these people are taking it, warfarin, or aspirin, they can also bleed to death. That is dangerous when you mix that. But I have not heard of a lot of instances like that case anyway.

13. Jacobsen: What about things such as fasting – which for many of the faithful, of the formal religious – is an important part of their life, it is a part of an ascetic, religious life. You mentioned before that it didn’t make sense to you because you preferred to eat.

What are some health complications that can possibly show up with fasting?

Langseth: That’s ridiculous in a way because fasting, especially fasting for three days, you can have GERD. You can have ulcers. You can have be dehydrated within 72 hours and it can cause kidney failure.

So, fasting is nonsense, stupid and ridiculous. Although, in Saudi Arabia, their fasting is different. They eat when the sun goes down. When the sun comes up, they fast. So, it’s different. In the Roman Catholic faith, at the death of their Jesus Christ, they don’t eat.

Because they think it’s like some form of penitence. They’re like showing respect to their Jesus Christ, which is bad. Imagine not eating for 3 days? Again, during my time, I don’t observe that. I go to my room and eat and do what I want. T

There’s so many health issues after fasting. In the Philippines I cannot understand, this is the 21st century and these people still fast. That is plain stupid. And then they complain when they have ulcers, when they have to go into the hospital for renal failure and dehydration.

14. Jacobsen: What are some symptoms of renal failure?

Langseth: Fasting can cause renal failure, GERD, and ulcers. One symptom is anuria. “A” means without and “nuria” is to pee. If you cannot urinate for 24 hours, that means you could have some renal failure. Of course, that stems from being dehydrated.

If you don’t drink from 72 hours, your kidney cannot produce urine and there’s no urine so you have anuria. You can be dizzy, weak and will collapse. Dizzy spells, you could collapse. Some people could die from that. And of course, there are so many medications that can cause renal failure too.

15. Jacobsen: When you look at religious practices in general, what are some other ones that are of concern to you regarding health as a professional?

Langseth: Number 1, when they don’t follow or when they don’t go to the doctor or hospital when they are sick, they think God or prayers will save them. That is dangerous. Number 2, they go to a quack doctor. Of course, they cannot afford.

That’s also one reason why they don’t go to the doctor, because they cannot afford it. There is a lot of poverty in the Philippines, so they don’t go. Of course, they think that Jesus will help them or their God will help them.

Especially if they have incurable forms of diseases like cancer, they think their God will help them. That’s dangerous. Instead of getting different viewpoints from medical practitioners, they go to their relatives and friends and they would say, “Okay, let us all pray for you, so you’ll get better.”

That is dangerous. Would you believe that it’s still being practiced in the Philippines?

16. Jacobsen: I would because belief in prayer is everywhere. What about these televangelists who appear to be so popular in the United States? These people who go to televangelists are people who throw their diabetes medication up on the stage or their eyeglasses and they say, “Jesus cured my glaucoma and diabetes. Not only that, he took the tumor out of my gut.”

Langseth: These are clowns. They pretend so much; it’s so obvious to me. I could not believe why people would find them useful. I find them nauseating every time I hear that, “Throw away your medication.” Believe me, I’ve seen it.

I’ve seen real people say that. When I was in the Philippines, I saw people from the Church. They go to the pastor and this pastor will pray for them when they’re sick. They’ll think they’re cured. I could not believe why they have spread.

In the USA, we have a lot of educated people. Why do they believe in that? It stems from ignorance about medicine; God of the gaps; people being lazy. They don’t read. They don’t read about new technology and science – being ignorant about so many things.

Then when you talk to them, they think that you are like my God, what are you talking about. But when you show them your credentials, they would believe you. I met a few during my tour in Switzerland. I met a few ignorant teachers.

They’re from the Bible Belt and when they talk about that. I tell them, “No, that’s not true!” And they look at me like I’m crazy and when I tell them my credentials, “Ah!” So, again, I’m straightforward.

In the 21st century, we should not have these televangelists. Why are they allowed to preach when there is hardcore science to prove that science can cure ailments? Or we have palliative measures if it cannot be cured? I could not understand people throwing money at these types of human beings.

That’s why they’re getting rich, rich. Jehovah’s Witness is one of them. I’ve heard of a cult in Texas. There’s the one that came to my mind are Jehovah’s Witness. These are poor people trying to survive in their community.

I feel bad because they come knocking on our door. I would shoo them away. and I tell them, “I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in your bullshit.” One time they even said, “Good morning, ma’am!” I’m honest, I say, “Good morning.” They say, “We would like to bless you.”

I say, “Excuse me? You cannot bless me. You’re only a human being. I’m an atheist, get out of here” [Laughing].

To be honest with you, since I came out and was vocal about my atheism, a lot of people came out. Some of them said, “You inspired us to come out. Now because of you, we would not be able to come out.”

It’s because somebody has to stand up; somebody has to break that barrier and be called an atheist. There’s nothing wrong with being an atheist. There is nothing wrong. When I created PATAS, I had the bragging rights to make PATAS because I founded that.

But as soon as I came out, I posted the picture of Richard Dawkins. That picture with Richard Dawkins launched PATAS. People were shocked that there’s this Philippina on Facebook with Richard Dawkins.

There’s nothing wrong with coming out! And this is the reason why being vocal and showing how good you are as a human being and an atheist will promote not only PATAS in the Philippines, but it will show to the world that we are good people. That has a lot of comments.

Of course, I got some bashing also, but that’s fine. That’s expected [Laughing]. As expected, the jealous people bashed me, but that’s fine. What I’m saying is it’s because of Facebook that I was able to create something that has not been created in the Philippines.

If not because of Facebook and social media, we will still be in the dark. We won’t have these non-religious societies in the Philippines. I’m still stupid with computers, believe me. I’m not at all a computer guru.

But I taught myself to do Facebook and to help out on the website because I need to, as the founder. You’re right that religion is eroding. We are the silent majority. Why? When I went to the Philippines for 2 months, the people I spoke to said that they went to church.

It’s like for convenience. But as per my conversations with them, they don’t believe in a God that will help them. It’s no longer like that. Although the older population, the 80-years-olds, the 90-years-olds, they still go to church and ask for help.

But the younger generations, they have done better: Millennials. Millennials are the ones who will save us because they know now there is no supernatural being that will help us.

She will help us promote Humanism. Not atheism, but humanism; humanism is a positive word for atheism. This is why if you go to our website, I mention Humanism is the best gift of atheism. I got like 500 likes when that was posted in the Atheist Republic.

That means that a lot of people will agree with me. Humanism is better utilized than atheism. Atheism is an empty shell. It’s a lack of belief. We don’t believe, fine. Humanism is the action word. We do something. That’s Humanism, like educating people and promoting equal rights.

It’s not positive, but it’s like you’re doing something when you’re a humanist. Like how I explained to these youngsters that I met when they had a party in my house, these elementary school or high school students.

I said, “Humanism means human and ism. Human means in you, in me, in humanity.” That’s all I told them. I didn’t tell them there’s no God. I didn’t say that because some of them are still religious. But they are appreciative.

They believe because when they believe in humans, then they will try to help you. That’s all I said. That was positive. We will continue that type of education. In fact, I was chatting recently to that lady in Bacolod, who launched her project about HAPI SHADE (Secular, Humanist, Advocacy, Development, Education).

She is launching that, but hers is different. She’s getting the young. The young people, they’re not in high school. They are 5- to 7-years-old. I met all of them because I was there when she launched that event.

In fact, I cried because I was so happy with what I saw. This is what you call “catch them while they’re young.” When you catch them young, you teach them these things. Yes, so catch them young, there are 70 of them.

She also got 70 volunteers, so it’s like 1-to-1. Then we feed them. Her style is different. We were chatting, so I have this in my brain. Monday to Thursday, they do remedial classes. Remedial meaning “on top of”: these children are poor.

They don’t know how to read. They don’t know how to do much. They are 5- or 7-years-old. So, they do remedial classes and on Friday feed them. So, it’s one form of saying, “Hey, let’s go to that class Monday to Thursday and then they give us goodies on Fridays.”

She said she’s going to do that for years, and do some assessments and evaluate whether it’s working after a couple or a few years. So, I told her we need to find a lot of donors. I donated a hundred dollars. That’s nothing to me.

We need to sustain that. In order to sustain that, we need an article to immortalize that on our website, so we get more donors who can understand what we’re doing. A lot of the donors would like to see children talk science, technology, and philosophy rather than wasting their time praying, going to church.

I have met a lot of humanist types. Real humanism is a denial of any deity or any supernatural being; that’s real Humanism to me. I’m a humanist. I don’t believe in those bullshit deities or supernatural entities.

Some humanists, I’ve met a few of them. One, I was chatting with her. She said she still believes in something. I said that’s fine. She’s a freethinker. She’s a humanist because she does this for human beings, to advance humanity. In fact, I have met a person in AHA when I attended that convention in 2011, when I asked if she believed in God.

Humanism does not mean you don’t believe in God. That’s what he said. So, I learned from him and not only that but from experience that when you’re a humanist, then you’re not an atheist. Some of them still believe in something.

Not necessarily Jesus or Allah, but they still believe in something. It’s because they’re not 100% convinced out of fear. Some of them out of respect for their tradition. Like the Filipinos, some of them they think they’re Catholic humanists.

Okay, that’s fine. The reason being that we have a huge umbrella of humanists in HAPI. Some of them are pure atheists and hardcore militant atheists like me and some of them are quite religious. However, some religious people have become agnostic or freethinkers because of what they’ve read in our forum.

One example is Jamie. Jamie was religious before and now she doesn’t go. She always thinks, at this time, that she’s agnostic. For us, that is a success already. We are successful and some of these people coming to us. They were religious at first.

Now, since they’ve joined us, they realize there’s no use for praying. There’s no use of going to Church, being a good person. And that is already a success for me. I can brag that I have converted a lot of people. Jamie is one of them.

A few people in Bacolod who were religious are freethinkers. So, in HAPI, we welcome all of them. We welcome anyone, as long as they don’t have a bomb in their belt, that’s fine. Some humanists, I don’t know if they can still be called humanists.

Duterte is killing these drug addicts and drug lords. You are aware of that. Some these humanists in HAPI are giving them the go signal. I don’t know. That’s selective Humanism.

Jacobsen: Can you clarify?

Langseth: There are humanists in HAPI who believe that Duterte is doing a good thing and killing those drug addicts is fine. They would give a thumbs up to them. I don’t know if you can still call them humanists.

But in euthanasia also, we have a right to die. For example, one of my specialties is palliative nursing, palliative care nursing. For example, if a patient is having pain every day and is bedbound, cannot move anymore and wasting, they have the right to go comfortably or to choose when and where to die.

For example, I have advised a lot of my patients’ families that “why would we go through a lot of medical interventions when it’s futile?” Why would you go through that? And that’s also good humanism because on the positive note, it will stop the misery of the human being.

I hate to say this, but it will save Medicare dollars. But this is not economics, my job. When I was still working, it was to empower my patients, to empower the families. If their loved one is in constant pain, of course, we treat them with maximum treatments with opioids or other things like that, but some of them would rather die than go forward, than be like that forever.

And of course, the families, most of them, believe me, would agree. That is humane. Remember if you see a horse in the street and they are in pain, you want to kill them right? You want to shoot them, so they will be put out of their misery. Why can’t we do that with human beings?

In a palliative and comfortable and respectful way, of course, if I was sick and in pain every day, I don’t want to live like that: please, kill me. When I had a car accident, I was on leave, on medical leave for 2 months.

I told my husband, “Honey, kill me. I’m in pain every day, bury me in the backyard.” I told him that. How much more with those people in the nursing home who are always in pain and bedridden and suffering? There’s pain and suffering every day for years and years. How much more?

I could not imagine how they feel. People would rather die than be in pain. I read a survey. People would rather die than be in pain. This is why we have high incidents of drug addiction in America. Nobody wants to be in pain!

Yes, nobody wants to be in pain. Look at these doctors, I’ve overheard a lot of doctors mention, “What? We’re like drug pushers over here. We treat patients with opioids right away and they come back and they’re drug addicts.”

Of course! Duh. When my husband had a fracture, I was keen on his medication because I don’t want him to be addicted. The doctors would say, “How come you don’t like this medication?” He said, “My wife is a nurse practitioner. I would rather listen to her than you.”

Because they don’t care, they prescribe Tylenol number 3, Vicodin, Percocet, or opioids generally.  The whole time the patient is in the hospital. When they come out, they want to refill their opioids and then after a month or two they’re drug addicts. I’m not surprised. I wrote an article about that.

Because nobody wants to be in pain. I’m in pain right now, I have some tendonitis from my vacation because I was carrying my bags, heavy bags. I have tendonitis in my right shoulder. It’s little pain, but I cannot take it. How much more with people who are in severe pain?

I have seen my patients who do otherwise. Like they’d rather be in pain because that’s what Jesus Christ wants them to have and be pain free when they die. So, when they’re alive, I had a patient. My God, I could not forget her. She’s a Jehovah’s witness.

She was in severe pain. She had gangrene in both feet. That means, she’s dying. I told her I was going to give her a patch to alleviate her pain. She said, “No, I want to be in pain because I want to experience what Jesus did during his life.”

I said, “My lord, I cannot take this. What I did? I called her family. Her niece was open-minded.” I said, “We need to treat your grandmother. She is in pain.” So, she came and she saw the pain and suffering. I said, “Yes, okay, do whatever is good for her. She cannot decide anyway.”

She’s not only demented. She was in pain. Her religious belief is getting into me and into my practice. I ordered this. After a few days, she died comfortably, having a religious belief will make you suffer.

It will make people suffer. They believe that is part of life; that is part of the penance or their route to go to heaven, to be in pain. That’s bullshit. I’m talking about religious attendance. My husband and I, we still go to Church.

The last time we were there. There were like 12 people. My husband told me when I was in the Philippines that he went to Church. There were only 9 of them and even the pastor was not there [Laughing]. It’s sad. I said, “My goodness, what’s wrong with this?” It’s so sad.

Yes, we have a few of them. But you’re right, it’s changing. The landscape of religiosity is changing and that is a good thing for us.

References

  1. Angeles, M. (2012, August 20). World Trade Center ‘cross’ causes religious dispute among Fil-Ams. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/global-filipino/08/20/12/world-trade-center-cross-causes-religious-dispute-among-fil-ams.
  2. Atheist Republic. (2014, September 10). Marissa Torres Langseth: Freethinking groups can achieve a common goal. Retrieved from http://www.atheistrepublic.com/gallery/marissa-torres-langseth-freethinking-groups-can-achieve-common-goal.
  3. Comelab, M. (2012, May 26). Filipino Atheists Becoming More Active. Retrieved from http://mail.reasonism.org/main-content/item/2689-filipino-atheists-becoming-more-active.
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  7. Langseth, M.T. (2017, April 14). FROM SUPERSTITION TO REASON: JOURNEYS TO HUMANISM/ATHEISM BY HAPI. Retrieved from http://thescientificatheist.com/author/marissa/.
  8. Langseth, M.T. (2013, March 20). Kwentong Kapuso: Registered nurses and the alphabet soup of nursing. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/pinoyabroad/300110/kwentong-kapuso-registered-nurses-and-the-alphabet-soup-of-nursing/story/.
  9. Meyer, E. (2017, March 7). Atheist missionaries are spreading humanist ideals in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://wwrn.org/articles/46700/.
  10. Universal Life Church Monstery. (2017, March 27). Filipino Atheists Pulling from the Christian Missionary Playbook. Retrieved from https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2017/03/filipino-atheists-using-the-christian-missionary-playbook/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, PATAS; Founder, HAPI.

[2] Individual Publication Date: January 8, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[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.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two) [Online].January 2018; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, January 8). An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A, January. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 16.A (January 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 16.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 16.A (2018):January. 2018. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Marissa Torres Langseth, B.S.N., M.S.N. (Part Two) [Internet]. (2018, January; 16(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/langseth-two.

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In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. 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 and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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