What Should be the Relationship between Religion and State? – Interfaith Dialogue on April 23, 2023

Fostering Interfaith Relationships on the Eastside (FIRE) invites you to our 21st Interfaith Dialogue on Sunday, April 23, 6:30-8:00PM. This will be a hybrid meeting in person at Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church (308 4th Ave. S, Kirkland) and online using Zoom. Please register at https://FIRE-April-2023.eventbrite.com and select whether you plan to attend in person or online; the Zoom link will be emailed to all registrants.

The Dialogue is entitled “What Should be the Relationship between Religion and State?”. The moderator will be Michael Reid Trice, Ph.D., founding Director of the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement at Seattle University. Dr. Trice also serves as Secretary of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and is a former Associate Executive for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Office of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Relations.

Panelists from a variety of world religions (biographies will be posted later) will discuss topics including:

  • The history of the relationship between the state and their faith tradition;
  • Factors that contributed to those dynamics;
  • How issues between their tradition and the state were resolved or left unresolved;
  • How members or leaders of their faith tradition would like to see the relationship changed in the future; and,
  • What, in their view, would be an ideal relationship between religion and state.

The panel discussion will be followed by small group discussions and open Q&A in the room and on Zoom.

The Dialogue will be recorded and shared on the FIRE web site after the event. Attendees who do not wish to be on the video may sit in an off-camera area or leave their video off on Zoom.

Light refreshments will be available for in-person attendees.

Parking is available at Northlake UUC in the lot to the east (uphill) of the building, as well as on surrounding streets.

If you have questions about the Dialogue, please email rsvp@fire-wa.org.


Dr. Michael Trice – Director, Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement, Seattle University; Trustee, Parliament of World’s Religions.

Kathy Sharp – Former Board Member, The Church Council of greater Seattle; Advisory Council Member, Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement, Seattle University.

Bruce Knotts – Co-chair, UN NGO Committee on Human Rights; Chair; NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace,and Security; Trustee, Parliament of World’s Religions.

Panelist Biographies

Dr. Michael Trice

Rev. Dr. Michael Reid Trice is Spehar-Halligan Professor and Founding Director of the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement (CEIE) at Seattle University. Trice is also the founder of Religica, a popular virtual and multimedia platform. Trice also adopted into the CEIE platform, The Interfaith Observer, an online popular journal and substantial archive of first-hand accounts that promote cultural, religious, Indigenous, and values-based fluencies around the world.

Trice’s first book, Encountering Cruelty won the humanities award at Loyola University, Chicago. He is currently co-editing a forthcoming an interdisciplinary volume (Georgetown University Press) titled: Injury, Repair and Gratitude in a Pandemic Age. He participates on a Vatican dicastery Ecology Interreligious advisory committee through the Parliament of the World’s Religions and served as a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seminaries program as well as at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Trice served as the Executive Associate for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; on the Board of Directors for Church World Service; as liaison to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the Obama Administration and is currently serving his third term as a trustee on the Board for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. He has served since 2004 on the National Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission in the United States.

Trice is an Associate Editor for the Journal in Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology, and holds degrees from Duke University, Loyola University, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Bethany Lutheran College, a certificate of study from Ludwig Maximilian Universität in Munch, Germany, and is currently pursuing a Leadership Executive MBA at the Seattle University School of Business and Economics.

In the early 90’s, Trice clerked on the legal team of Judge Robinson O. Everett, in which Judge Everett successfully argued a case against race as a deciding factor (i.e. racial gerrymandering) in redrawing voting districts (Shaw v. Reno, 1993) at the US Supreme Court. Today at CEIE, Trice is also introducing an Ignatian method of scholarship that responds to critical societal challenges, through convening scholars across disciplines within the Jesuit university network. Trice presents widely in both national and international venues.

Kathy Sharp

Kathy Sharp is an ordained lay minister for Community of Christ, a global denomination founded in the United States in the 19th century. Before retirement, she served as mission president for the Greater Pacific Northwest (Alaska, Washington and Oregon). Prior to working full time in ministry, she was a business consultant, specializing in public relations, change management and human resources. Kathy is a former board member for The Church Council of Greater Seattle and currently serves on the advisory council for The Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement at Seattle University. She also is a member of her denomination’s global Ecumenical and Interfaith Ministries Team. As a private citizen, Kathy is active in her local Democratic Party as a precinct committee officer and chair of the Issues Committee for the 1st Legislative District. She and her husband, Lynn, live in Bothell, WA. They have three married adult children and six grandchildren living nearby.

Bruce Knotts

Bruce Knotts was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia, worked for Raytheon in Saudi Arabia (1976-80) and on a World Bank contract in Somalia (1982-4), before he joined the Department of State as a U.S. diplomat in 1984. Bruce had diplomatic assignments in Greece, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire and The Gambia, where he served as Deputy Chief of Mission. While in Cote d’Ivoire, Bruce served as the Regional Refugee Coordinator for West Africa. Bruce worked closely with several UN Special Representatives and observed UN peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone from 2000-2003. Bruce retired from the Foreign Service in 2007 and began directing the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) in 2008. Bruce founded faith-based advocacy for sexual orientation/gender identity human rights at the United Nations and continues to advocate for the rights of women, indigenous peoples and for sustainable development in moral terms of faith and values. Bruce is co-chair of the UN NGO Committee on Human Rights, the chair of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security, a member of the steering committee of the NGO UN Security Council Working Group. Bruce retired from the UUA September 30, 2022. Bruce is currently the Director of International Engagement at Community Church NY. In 2006, Bruce and Isaac Humphrie were wed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Isaac works internationally as an event environmentalist for Apple, Google, Horatio Alger Awards, and others. He’s a professional photographer, and social media consultant, he works in Fashion Show production in New York, London, Tokyo, and Kampala.