Books & Other Publications

Grace Y. Kao’s co-edited anthology with Ilsup Ahn–entitled Asian American Christian Ethics: Voices, Methods, Issues–was published by Baylor University Press in the fall of 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
  • 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)

Asian American Christian Ethics at the SCE

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)


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

Grace Y. Kao’s first book was published by Georgetown University Press in 2011 in their Advancing Human Rights series.

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


  • Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World was the subject of two discussions at the annual meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics in 2012 (viz., “Breakfast with an Author” and “Recent Work among Asian American Christian Ethicists”)
  • Selected chapters of Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World were assigned as required reading for Dr. Richard Amesbury‘s Spring 2011 Religion and Human Rights course at Claremont School of Theology
  • Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World was adopted as a course text for Dr. Lisa Schweitzer‘s Fall 2012 Seminar on Social Justice and Public Policy at the University of Southern California (USC).

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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.


Grace Y. Kao, “Working Contextually and in Solidarity with Others,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 31.1 (2015): 115-121.

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

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

Grace Y. Kao, “Mission Impossible: ‘Nonsectarian’ Prayer in the Military Chaplaincy,” Political Theology 11.4 (2010): 577-606.

Grace Y. Kao, “The Universal vs. the Particular in Ecofeminist Ethics,” Journal of Religious Ethics 38.4 (2010): 616-637.

Elizabeth M. Bucar, Grace Y. Kao, and Irene Oh, “Sexing Comparative Ethics: Bringing Forth Feminist and Gendered Perspectives,” Journal of Religious Ethics 38.4 (2010): 654-659.

Grace Y. Kao, Ramón Luzárraga, and Darryl Trimiew, with introductory remarks by Christine E. Gudorf, “Managing Diversity in Academe,” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 28.2 (2008): 75-95.

Grace Y. Kao, “‘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 27.1 (2007): 183-204.

Grace Y. Kao and Jerome Copulsky, “The Pledge of Allegiance and the Meanings and Limits of Civil Religion,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75.1 (2007): 121-149.

Grace Kao, “Consistency in Ecofeminist Ethics: Contextual Moral Vegetarianism and Abortion,” International Journal of the Humanities 3.11 (2005/2006): 11-21.


Grace Y. Kao and Ilsup Ahn, “Introduction: What is Asian American Christian Ethics?,” in Asian American Christian Ethics, eds. Grace Y. Kao and Ilsup Ahn (Waco, Tx: Baylor University Press, 2015).

Grace Y. Kao and Ilsup Ahn, “Conclusion: The Future of Christian Ethics,” in Asian American Christian Ethics, eds. Grace Y. Kao and Ilsup Ahn (Waco, Tx: Baylor University Press, 2015).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Grace Y. Kao and Ilsup Ahn, “Roundtable: Asian American Christian Ethics: Voices, Methods, Issues,” Journal of Asian/North American Theological Educators 2.1 (2016): 106-115.

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: A New Forum for Theology 1.3 (2014): 97-105.

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




Grace Y. Kao, “Religious Diversity and Human Rights,” Blackwell Companion to Religious Diversity, ed. Kevin Schilbrack (Malden, MA: Blackwell, forthcoming 2016).

San-Yi (Shirley) Lin and Grace Y. Kao, “Taiwanese American Women Pastors and Leaders: A Reality in our Churches, in Setting the Table: Wisdom Leadership of Pacific, Asian, North American Asian Women Ministers, Activists and Scholars, eds. Su Yon Pak and Jung Ha Kim (Westminster John Knox Press—in progress).

Grace Y. Kao, “Barth, Infant Baptism and Recent Male Circumcision Controversies: A Case Study,” in Theo-Politics? Conversing with Barth in Western and Asian Contexts, ed. Markus Hofner (Fortress Press, under contract).

Grace Y. Kao, “Living Sustainability,” in Performing the Faith, eds. Gina Messina-Dysert and Xochitl Alviso.

Her co-edited reader (with Paul Dafydd Jones) on Liberation Theology is also under contract with Fortress Press in their Shapers of Modern Theology series.

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Read more about Grace Kao’s service to professional organizations.