November 27, 2022
My name is Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood and I serve as the spiritual advisor to Scott Eizember, who has been condemned to be executed by the State of Oklahoma on January 12. In the coming weeks, I will be participating in a clemency process for Scott that will culminate in a public hearing on December 7. Scott was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2003 murders of an elderly couple in Depew, A.J. and Patsy Cantrell. Of course, Scott is deeply remorseful for what happened…but that is not the reason I write…I write to talk about our witness as followers of Jesus.
As I’ve worked with Scott as his spiritual advisor, I’ve come to know him as a man that asks deep questions. Repeatedly, Scott has enquired why Christians in Oklahoma are so desperate to kill him. The only answer I could/can come up with is that there isn’t one thing Christian about an execution. While this answer might sound simple, it seems to be clearly supported by the basic message of Jesus.
I’m sure you remember the moment when one of the great scholars of the law approached Jesus with a deep question. “What is the most important commandment?” Jesus answered simply. “Love God with all your heart…with all your soul…with all your mind…and with all your strength. Then, love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.” Everything we do should be centered around such a statement. But, what’s that got to do with the death penalty? How in the world can one love their neighbor by killing them? Jesus didn’t say your good or righteous or moral or innocent neighbor. In fact, Jesus didn’t offer us any exceptions. Scott Eizember is your neighbor. How can you follow the greatest commandments and kill him? You can’t.
In the coming weeks, I am asking you to join me in seeking to love our neighbor. While such an effort might not be your thing, surely love is. There is nothing loving about doing nothing. There is nothing loving about shrugging our shoulders in indifference when someone is killed. I am asking you to stand up against the killing. I am asking you to stand in your pulpits and say something. I am asking you to call, write or send messages by social media to the Board of Pardon and Parole, the Governor and anyone else that might be able to stop this killing. While you might not think that Scott Eizember is worth it, surely Jesus is…surely our witness of loving our neighbors is.
If nothing else, I covet your prayers for Scott.
The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood
Spiritual Advisor, Oklahoma State Penitentiary (Death Row)
for more info about me: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jeffhood/biography/