Books & Other Publications

ASIAN AMERICAN CHRISTIAN ETHICS (Baylor University Press, 2015)

Asian American Christian Ethics

This groundbreaking volume presents the collective work of twelve Christian ethicists of Asian descent in the U.S. who map the new and burgeoning field of study located at the juncture of Christian ethics and Asian American studies. Led by Grace Kao and Ilsup Ahn, these scholars identify the purposes and chart the contours of what constitutes a distinctly Asian American Christian ethical approach to moral concerns.

Asian American Christian Ethics rethinks perennial issues in Christian ethics (war and peace, family/ marriage/ parenting, gender and sexuality, economics and wealth, virtue ethics), pressing social matters (race relations, immigration, healthcare, the environment), and issues of special interest to Asian Americans (education, labor, plastic surgery). Each chapter utilizes classical Christian sources read from the particular vantage point of Asian American Christian theology, ethics, and culture. Beginning with a description of the range of Christian responses to the issue, each author describes and enacts a constructive proposal for an Asian American Christian ethical response. An ideal volume for researchers, teachers, and students alike, Asian American Christian Ethics articulates the foundations, questions, and goals of this vibrant and flourishing field of study.



“Several years in the making through a Working Group of the Society of Christian Ethics, this rich and innovative volume is the first major scholarly contribution to the emerging field of Asian American Christian Ethics. Grace Y. Kao and Ilsup Ahn’s work helps define a field of thought and will be the benchmark for future contributions to Asian American Christian Ethics. I highly recommend this volume for anyone interested in cutting-edge work in ethics.”

William Schweiker, The University of Chicago, President of the Society of Christian Ethics (2015-2016)

“This book has deeply informed and challenged my thinking. Kao and Ahn invite us on a crucial exploration of the development and application of a new subfield called Asian American Christian ethics. No one who claims to be interested in the field of ethics can ever consider themselves fully informed if they fail to interact with this first, and hopefully not last, major contribution to the academic discourse from the Asian American experience relegated to the margins.”

Miguel A. De La Torre, Professor of Social Ethics and Latino/a Studies, Iliff School of Theology

“This significant work is sure to transform the field of Christian ethics. Asian American Christian Ethics challenges us to think theologically, to think ethically, and to delve into the very conditions of our existence with one another in order to understand the past, present, and future that is still to come. This volume is a must for students and scholars who want to know what happens when Christian ethics and Asian American critique intersect.”

Wonhee Anne Joh, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
  • Grace Yia-Hei Kao participated in a hour-long teleconference with WATER in their “Feminist Conversations in Religion” series on January 3, 2016. Click here for the audio of that session.
  • Asian American Christian Ethics was the subject of a panel discussion (“What Can We Learn From Asian American Christian Ethics?”) at the Society of Christian Ethics, Jan. 6-10, 2016 (Toronto, ON)

Pictured left to right: Jonathan Tran, Hak Joon Lee, Grace Yia-Hei Kao, Lisa Sowle Cahill, MT Davila, Peter Paris, Gary Dorrien, Ki Joo (KC) Choi, Sharon Tan, Ilsup Ahn

  • Asian American Christian Ethics was the subject of a panel book discussion (“Asian American Christian Ethics: An Introduction and Critical Assessment”) at the American Academy of Religion, Nov. 21-24, 2015 (Atlanta, GA). Reviews by Kwok Pui-Lan, Rita Nakashima Brock, and Andrew Sung Park, with a response by Ilsup Ahn & Grace Y. Kao were subsequently published in the Journal of Asian/North American Theological Educators 2.1 (2016): 106-115.
AAR book panelists pictured (from left to right): Andrew Sung Park, Grace Yia-Hei Kao, Ilsup Ahn, Kwok Pui-Lan, Rita Nakashima Brock

Pictured (from left to right): Andrew Sung Park, Grace Yia-Hei Kao, Ilsup Ahn, Kwok Pui-Lan, Rita Nakashima Brock, Patrick Cheng


While grappling with the arguments of several leadinBookcover for Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist Worldg thinkers in human rights theory, Dr. Kao defends the universal validity of human rights against charges of relativism and ethnocentrism on the one hand, and in conversation with two oppositional strategies of justification on the other: a “maximalist” approach requiring human rights to be embedded within a larger (philosophical, religious, or cultural) vision of the good and a “minimalist” approach requiring no particular metaphysics, religious tenet, account of human nature, or culturally idiosyncratic norm. Kao offers a sympathetic but critical engagement with three accounts of justification that fall between this minimalist-maximalist divide: an urgent rights approach, a consensus-based approach, and the Capability Approach. Kao concludes that the human rights project both presupposes and itself provides a conception of that which is characteristically human, but that conception can be defended on either religious or non-religious grounds. Kao also proposes that ethical realism (over non-realist versions of political liberalism) provides the most satisfying account of what she takes to be a founding premise of the entire human rights enterprise—the equal moral worth of all human beings.



Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World is a must read. It provides an introduction to the basic issues of human rights and should be read in any introductory courses on human rights. Not only does Kao write clearly about complex issues, but she brilliantly analyses the leading and diverse positions. She thereby provides excellent treatment of the relevant issues implied in the thorny issue of cultural pluralism.”

Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Theological Studies, Harvard Divinity School

Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World makes an important contribution to current discussions of the universality of human rights in the context of cultural and religious pluralism. It embodies broad and deep knowledge of the current theoretical discussions of the foundation and meaning of human rights in both secular and religious contexts. It will be of great interest to human rights scholars in a variety of disciplines, both theoretical and policy-oriented.”

David Hollenbach, University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice; Director, Center for Human Rights and Social Justice, Boston College

“Clearly written, rigorously argued, and thoroughly researched Grounding Human Rights is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary discussions of human rights. Grace Kao has given us a philosophically sophisticated yet truly accessible book, a rare and valuable contribution.”

Ronald F. Thiemann, Bussey Professor of Theology, Harvard Divinity School

In accordance with the “fair use” doctrine of U.S. law, the publications below may be downloaded and copied for teaching or non-profit usage. If you do, please use each publication in its full form and include full bibliographic citation (i.e., author, title, source, date). Please know that Dr. Grace Kao welcomes your correspondence with her about her work.


Kao, Grace Y. “Working Contextually and in Solidarity with Others.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 31, no.1 (2015): 115-121.

Kao, Grace Yia-Hei. “Prospects for Developing Asian American Christian Ethics.” Society of Asian North American Christian Studies 3 (2011): 91-102.

Kao, Grace Y. “Moving Forward by Agreeing to Disagree: A Response to ‘Healing Ecology.’” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 17 (2010): 268-278.

Kao, Grace Y. “Mission Impossible: ‘Nonsectarian’ Prayer in the Military Chaplaincy.” Political Theology 11, no.4 (2010): 577-606.

Kao, Grace Y. “The Universal vs. the Particular in Ecofeminist Ethics.” Journal of Religious Ethics 38, no.4 (2010): 616-637.

Bucar, Elizabeth M., Grace Y. Kao, and Irene Oh. “Sexing Comparative Ethics: Bringing Forth Feminist and Gendered Perspectives.” Journal of Religious Ethics 38, no.4 (2010): 654-659.

Kao, Grace Y., Ramón Luzárraga, and Darryl Trimiew, with introductory remarks by Christine E. Gudorf. “Managing Diversity in Academe.” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 28, no.2 (2008): 75-95.

Kao, Grace Y. “‘One Nation Under God’ or Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain? Christian Reflections on The Pledge of Allegiance.” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 27, no.1 (2007): 183-204.

Kao, Grace Y. and Jerome Copulsky. “The Pledge of Allegiance and the Meanings and Limits of Civil Religion.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75, no.1 (2007): 121-149.

Kao, Grace. “Consistency in Ecofeminist Ethics: Contextual Moral Vegetarianism and Abortion.” International Journal of the Humanities 3, no.11 (2005/2006): 11-21.


Kao, Grace Y. “Setting the Captives Free: Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014).” In Can I Get a Witness? The Forgotten Tradition of Radical Christianity in America, edited by Charles Marsh, Shea Tuttle, and Daniel Rhodes. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans: forthcoming Spring 2019.

Kao, Grace Y. “My Life with Morris: A Feminist Account of Friendship and Conversion in a Bicultural Context.” In Encountering Earth: Thinking Theologically with a More than Human World, edited by Trevor Bechtel, Matthew Eaton, and Timothy Harvie. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, forthcoming April 2018.

Kao, Grace Y. “Barth, Infant Baptism and Recent Male Circumcision Controversies: A Case Study.” In Theo-Politics? Conversing with Barth in Western and Asian Contexts, edited by Markus Höfner. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, forthcoming 2018.

Kao, Grace Y. “What About Other Marginalized Communities and Beings?” In Faith, Hope, Love and Justice: The Theological Virtues Today, edited by Anselm K. Min, 127-138. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, forthcoming 2018.

Lin, San Yi and Grace Y. Kao. “Taiwanese American Women Pastors and Leaders: A Reality in our Churches.” In Leading Wisdom: Asian, North American Asian Women Leaders, edited by Su Yon Pak and Jung Ha Kim, 29-41. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.

Kao, Grace Y. “Firsthand Experience with Secondhand Shopping.” In Women Religion Revolution, edited by Xochitl Alviso and Gina Messina, 85-91. Indianapolis, IN: Feminist Studies in Religion Books, 2017.               

Kao, Grace Y. and Ilsup Ahn. “Introduction: What is Asian American Christian Ethics?” In Asian American Christian Ethics: Voices, Methods, Issues, edited by Grace Y. Kao and Ilsup Ahn, 1-17. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2015.

Kao, Grace Y. and Ilsup Ahn. “Conclusion: The Future of Christian Ethics.” In Asian American Christian Ethics: Voices, Methods, Issues, edited by Grace Y. Kao and Ilsup Ahn, 267-268. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2015.

Kao, Grace Y. “From Human Rights to Animal Rights.” In Religion and Public Policy: Human Rights, Conflict, and Ethics, edited by Sumner B. Twiss, Marian Gh. Simion, Rodney L. Petersen, 120-137. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Kao, Grace Y. “Experimenting with Feminist Pedagogy and Technology in the Classroom.” In Feminism and Religion in the 21st Century: Technology, Dialogue, and Expanding Bordersedited by Gina Messina-Dysert and Rosemary Radford Ruether, 167-183. New York: Routledge, 2014.

Kao, Grace Y. “Exploring the Korean First Birthday Celebration (Dol Janchi) as a Site for Comparative Religious Ethics and Asian American Christian Ethics.” IReligious Ethics in a Time of Globalism:  A Third Wave of Comparative Analysis, edited by Elizabeth M. Bucar and Aaron Stalnaker, 145-176. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012.

Kao, Grace Y. “Of Tragedy and its Aftermath: The Search for Religious Meaning in the Shootings at Virginia Tech.” IFrom Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America, edited by John D. Carlson and Jonathan H. Ebel, 177-193. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Kao, Grace Y. and Jerome Copulsky. “The Pledge of Allegiance and the Meanings and Limits of Civil Religion.” In Religion and American Politics: Classics and Contemporary Perspectivesedited by Amy Black, Douglas Koopman, and Larycia Hawkins, 73-77. Boston: Longman, 2011.

Kao, Grace Y. “For All Creation.” In To Do Justice: A Guide for Progressive Christiansedited by Rebecca Todd Peters and Elizabeth Hasty-Hinson, 97-107. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.

Kao, Grace Y. “The Logic of Anti-Proselytization, Revisited.” IProselytization Revisited: Rights Talk, Free Markets, and Culture Wars, edited by Rosalind I. J. Hackett, 77-107. London: Equinox, 2008.

Kao, Grace. “Introducing Religious Studies.” In An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studiesedited by Michael K. Herndon, 28-39. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 2004.


Ahn, Ilsup and Grace Y. Kao. Response to the “Roundtable: Asian American Christian Ethics: Voices, Methods, Issues. Journal of Asian/North American Theological Educators 2, no.1 (2016): 112-114.

Donna Yarri’s The Ethics of Animal ExperimentationA Critical Analysis and Constructive Christian Proposal (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) in Political Theology 7.3 (2006): 535-537.

Grace Y. Kao. “Responding Theologically to Animal Ferocity and Suffering: A Review of Ronald Osborn’s Death Before the Fall.” Syndicate 1, no.3 (2014): 97-105.

Grace Y. Kao“Creaturely Solidarity: Rethinking Human-Nonhuman Animal Relations,” Journal of Religious Ethics 42.4 (2014): 743-768.


Kao, Grace Y. Righting Wrongs: Reparations and Reconciliation in Asian American Contexts.

Todd Peters, Rebecca and Grace Y. Kao, eds. Encountering the Sacred: Feminist Reflections on Women’s Lives. New York and London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark (under contract as of 12/7/17; projected publication date = Fall 2018).

Kao, Grace Y. “Defending Gestational Surrogacy on Christian Feminist Grounds” (in preparation for the Jan 2018 Society of Christian Ethics conference and submission to the JSCE)

Kao, Grace Y. “Religious Diversity and Human Rights.” In Blackwell Companion to Religious Diversity, edited by Kevin Schilbrack. Malden, MA: Blackwell. [publication date uncertain]


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