Judith W. Kay

Professor Emerita
Religious Studies

As professor of religious and philosophical ethics, Kay’s scholarship integrates moral psychology, oppression theory, and virtue ethics. Based on work with death row inmates and families of murder victims, Kay authored Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty (Rowman & Littlefield), which examines Americans’ deep-seated allegiance to a story that justifies violence as a means of justice. Related publications include “Is Restitution Possible for Murder? Surviving Family Members Speak”; “Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation: Story-Telling for Healing, as Witness, and in Public Policy”; and an article on spiritual advisors, “In the Shadow of the Execution Chamber: Affirming Wholeness in a Broken Place.” Investigation of the dynamics of racism in the genocides in Europe and Rwanda are discussed in “Middle Agents as Marginalized: How the Rwanda Genocide Challenges Ethics from the Margin,” and “The Exodus and Racism: Paradoxes for Jewish Liberation,” both in The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics. Her recent book project examines how those in oppressor roles acquire and can dismantle habits that perpetuate systems of domination, with particular attention to anti-Semitism and the oppression of young people. Kay is an active participant in the university’s Race and Pedagogy Institute.


B.A., Oberlin College, 1974; M.A., Pacific School of Religion, 1978; Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union, 1988

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