The Azaria Case - Could Fiction Be So Strange?

Speaker: Categories: Apr 12, 1986


[57min, 4sec / 53min, 33sec]


Adventists have had a noted interest in things having an Australian origin! Australian accents, coming from the pulpit or the lectern, have attracted special attention and careful surveillance. But this interest has been primarily associated with alternatives to orthodox Adventist exegesis. Little concern has been expressed in Australian justice, the public perception of Seventh-day Adventists in Australia, or, more specifically, the fate of one Australian Seventh-day Adventist family.

In fact, it is quite unlikely that North American Adventists, other than readers of Spectrum, would associate Azaria, Chamberlain, or dingoes with anything Adventist at all. Even for those in the know, Baby Azaria and the Chamberlain case would be considered a geographically distant, somewhat bizarre incident which might possibly have implications, remote at best, for Adventists worldwide.

Our April 12 meeting will enlighten us as to what did happen following the mysterious disappearance of two-month old Azaria, daughter of Pastor Michael and Lindy Chamberlain, from a public campsite at Ayers Rock (Australia) the evening of August 17, 1980. We'll be guided in an examination of how a modern judicial system, two years after the tragedy, could find Lindy guilty of murdering her infant child and then sentence her to life imprisonment with hard labor, yet without producing the body of the deceased as evidence? We'll look at the role of the primary investigators of the case, the coroner's findings, the report of the forensic experts, the appeals court, the media coverage, and the Australian perception of Adventists (and other "religionists"). And what about dingoes -- how did, or might they, fit into this stranger-than-fiction drama?


Dr. Dorothy Comm has had a long-time interest in the Chamberlain case. She has kept in close contact through friends of the Chamberlain family. In 1984 she personally interviewed Pastor Michael Chamberlain just prior to his public statement which challenged the manner in which the entire incident was handled. She is knowledgeable, informed, and interested that we, too, become aware of what has happened to one Seventh-day Adventist family, geographically distant but emotionally and theologically near to us.

Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Takoma Park, Canadian Union College and Newbolt College provided her elementary and secondary education. She earned her bachelor's degree from Atlantic Union College, 1950; masters from Andrews University, 1964, magna cum laude; and her doctor of philosophy in English literature from the University of Alberta (Canada), 1971.

Dr. Comm has been published in various SDA journals and has authored four books. She is currently an associate editor of Adventist Heritage.

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