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Freethought Today · November 2015

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Meet a graphic(s) staffer: Jake Swenson

Name: Jake Swenson.

Where and when I was born: Rockford, Ill., November 1981.

Education: B.F.A. in graphic design from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. I'm in my first semester in the master's program at UW–Madison's Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

Family: Parents Brad and Sandee Swenson, older sisters Jenni Corbett and Jessi Knuth.
How I came to work at FFRF: I discovered FFRF from an article I was reading on the Fox News website during my freshman year of college, and I have followed the group ever since. After college I was working back in Rockford. My girlfriend lived in Madison, so I decided to move up last fall. Shortly after, I noticed FFRF was looking for a graphic designer.
What I do here: I do the layout for the newspaper, logos, brochures, web graphics, photography and more.

What I like best about it: There are many wonderful things about working for FFRF. Aside from the obvious — getting to work for a nonprofit that fights to keep state and church separate — I love working in downtown Madison. It is vibrant and pedestrian friendly. I walk around during lunch every day, and my bike commute to and from the Schenk–Atwood neighborhood is extremely easy, thanks to great bike routes and paths.

What gets old about it: The chaos that ensues right before the paper deadline.

I spend a lot of time thinking about: Where to go for coffee, how cities function, and politics.

I spend little if any time thinking about: Video games, TV, social media.

My religious upbringing was: Not religious, although I was baptized Catholic. We did not belong to a parish, so they paid a fee to do it at my grandparent's church in Milwaukee.
My mom was raised Catholic and my dad Lutheran. My mom and sisters went to church for a short time when I was very young. At some point, the church sent my mom a letter telling her she needed to contribute more money, and that was the end of it. Her exact words when I asked her about it via text message: "Screw them, never went back — never regretted it!!" She is also an FFRF member.

My doubts about religion started: Even though I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that never talked about religion, it is bound to infiltrate your life eventually. So many people I knew spoke of their religious beliefs as fact that I eventually started to believe some of it, not that I spent any time thinking about it.

I remember a day after school in junior high when my sister was watching some bad daytime talk show. The theme of the day was about god and the devil. She stated that she did not believe in either, and I remember being a little surprised by this option. Before long I adopted this view as well.

Sometime in high school I began to think more about the subject and came to the conclusion that it was not something that I could believe in.

Things I like: Cycling, music, coffee, traveling, photography, walking, running, historic architecture, craft beer, bike and pedestrian accommodations, public transit, public education.

Things I smite: Surface parking lots, automobiles, suburban sprawl, school vouchers and the way Wisconsin is currently being governed.

In my golden years: I want to be physically active. I want to continue to learn new things, and I still want to be living in an urban environment.

Favorite TV show: "Mystery Science Theater 3000." I know I said I don't think much about TV, but this one has been off the air for 16 years.