Before he was an Oklahoma senator, Brooks Douglass was the son of missionaries Richard and Marilyn Douglass, who returned from Brazil to serve a Baptist church in the Oklahoma City area. One night, Glen Ake and Steven Hatch entered the Douglass home, murdering Brooks’ parents, raping his sister, and leaving Brooks and his sister for dead. In the new film, The Amendment, audiences will see Mike Vogel (The Case for Christ) portray Brooks Douglass as the senator crusading for victims’ rights and wrestling with what it means to forgive. On one night only, April 12, the film debuts in theaters as a Fathom Event.
Portraying Douglass, Vogel shows off the young senator’s headstrong, single-minded nature in pursuit of justice for his family, even as he struggles to come to grips with the anger that has been burning in his heart since he was sixteen years old. The surrounding actors are sufficient to the task in keeping up with Vogel, with Erin Chambers as a newsreporter pursuing the story, Taryn Manning as Douglass’ sister, Leslie, and Silas Weir Mitchell as Ake. Douglass plays his father in flashbacks, while Leslie plays a singer in a senatorial club.
Opening with Douglass dragging himself across the kitchen floor, the story is gripping in its extreme tragedy, without ever dragging us down into graphic exposure to what happened on that fateful night in the late 1970s. As the story moves forward, aimed at Douglass’ law passing and his inner pursuit of closure (which becomes forgiveness), it moves forward in the days leading up to Hatch’s execution and Douglass’ meeting with Ake. But interspersed in the action, there is much of the Christian faith of Douglass’ parents that highlights the change that will take place in the senator’s heart.
Between listening to sermons by his father and reminiscing about better times, Douglass thinks back to the way that his father taught love and forgiveness. Whether it’s the time the younger Douglass turned a thesis statement into paper-cut snowflakes, or the stories as a missionary that his father told him about choices to forgive, or times his Baptist pastor stood before his congregation and preached on the Beatitudes and forgiveness, the lessons of the father become the roadmap for the son’s healing.
The lynchpin to the film is Douglass’ one-on-one with Ake in prison. It defies reason and even most faithful understandings of what it means to follow Jesus. Instead, it’s a supernatural, holy thing that happens, where one man can confess to a horrible thing he’s done and takes responsibility for it, and another man can find a depth in his heart that allows him to forgive.
Powerfully acted, and ripped from the headlines of the 1970s and the 2000s, The Amendment is a testimony to the power of parents in the lives of their children, and the amazing grace of God’s love in one man’s journey to embrace forgiveness.