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In memoriam: John S. Compere was former Clergy Project president

John S. Compere

John S. Compere, 86, died in Chandler, Ariz., on Oct. 10. He was a longtime member of FFRF, past president of The Clergy Project, a retired licensed clinical psychologist and professional speaker.

He was born Oct. 17, 1934. Prior to his deconversion, he was a fifth-generation Southern Baptist minister. 

“FFRF is so sorry to lose John, a kind, thoughtful, outstanding human being and very dedicated freethinker, who enhanced FFRF and all other groups he belonged to, including doing painstaking intake work and vetting for The Clergy Project,” says his friend Dan Barker, FFRF co-president and co-founder of The Clergy Project.

Compere received a B.A. in English from Mississippi College in 1956, a B.D. in theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1961, an M.A. in psychology from Wake Forest University in 1969 and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina in 1972. He subsequently taught psychology at Wake Forest University and Medical School, as well as having a private practice as a clinician. 

In addition to being author of Outgrowing Religion and several other freethought books, Compere was a member of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists. He also was one of the initial consultants at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C., and from that association, began speaking to corporate and professional conferences on Psychology You Can Use. 

In 1989, he became a full-time professional speaker and has spoken in 48 states. He was a member of the National Speakers Association. Compere’s contacts with the secular humanist community since leaving organized religion led him to conclude that “humanists are certainly no less moral than the typical person of faith and in many ways, superior.”

Twenty years ago, in the April 2001 issue of Freethought Today, he wrote: “People have every right, of course, to be as religious as they choose, so long as the practice of their religion doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. Many, many good, honest, sincere people are totally convinced that their religious views are not only right, but are what make them good, honest, and sincere. . . . I also think they are, unfortunately, deluded. . . . I would like to see a world in which, instead of pouring our resources of time, money and energy into religious coffers, we tried building a more humane society among those who are so inclined. And that we quit assuming that religion is sacred.”

He is survived by his wife Joyce, who wrote, “I cannot imagine my life without him. I took it for granted that I lived, loved and shared a wonderful life with the most incredible man I ever met. I should be grateful instead of devastated! For now, I will be both.”