“A Dingo Ate My Baby” (And why you should put Jesus on trial)


Read John 7:40-52.

How Could A Dingo Possibly Eat Your Baby?

Michael was a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Lindy was a pastor’s wife, and Azaria was the name of their two month old daughter. They were camping in the Australian Outback when witnesses say they saw Lindy outside of her tent yelling, “A dingo’s got my baby!”

According to Time magazine, at the time, in Australia, little was known about the Seventh-day Adventist religion. Australians viewed the Christian denomination as a cult. There was speculation that followers of this strange religion sometimes sacrificed their babies. People even said the baby’s name, Azaria, meant “sacrifice in the wilderness.” (The real meaning of the name Azaria is “blessed of God.”) And then there was the prevailing public opinion concerning dingoes. It was believed that a dingo would never attack a human being unprovoked. After the baby’s disappearance, the public was sympathetic–toward the dingoes. Michael and Lindy were stoic in their grief which further fueled speculation that, since the dingoes couldn’t possibly have done it, the couple must have killed their own daughter. They were charged, and convicted, of murder. The prosecution proposed that Lindy slit her daughter’s throat with scissors, hid the body in a camera case, drove to a remote location away from their camp, and buried their deceased baby.

There was a media frenzy and the case received worldwide attention. They even made a movie about it starring Meryl Streep. The dog-like dingoes were facing a harsh accusation from Lindy and Michael. And the media, the public, and the prosecution all sided with the dingoes. During the trial journalists published images of dingoes looking more playful than predatory. Lindy was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Her husband Michael was convicted of accessory after the fact. Lindy spent four years behind bars and away from her husband and her other three children. The couple eventually divorced. (Divorce rates increase as a result of both imprisonment and the loss of a child.)

People thought the idea that a dingo would crawl into a tent and drag away someone’s baby was ludicrous–and they thought it was funny too. “A dingo’s got my baby” evolved into “a dingo ate my baby.” That phrase, spoken in an exaggerated Australian accent, became a favorite punchline of comedians. It appeared on popular sitcoms like Seinfeld and The Simpsons too.

But the people, the prosecution, and the media were making a judgment without all the facts. Four years later more light was shed on the case: Azaria’s clothes were found partially buried near a dingo lair. Before Azaria’s death, the chief park ranger warned that the increasing dingo population in the area was becoming a danger to humans, but his warnings were ignored. It was also discovered that “blood stains” on the floor of Michael and Lindy’s car are actually stains from a spilled drink. Since Lindy and Michael lost their daughter Azaria, three other small children have been attacked and killed by dingoes. Eventually, with all the facts in hand, the coroner came forward with a declaration that dingoes were responsible for the death of two month old Azaria. Lindy and Michael’s names were cleared, but it took years. In the interim Lindy served time in prison and the family was torn apart.

How Could Jesus Be The Christ?

Here’s the scene from John chapter seven: After Jesus completely disrupted the feast of tabernacles ceremony and gave his invitation for people to “come to me and drink,” we see the crowd debating each other over the identity of Jesus. There was a “media frenzy,” if you will, over the question: Who is Jesus? Some recognized him as the Christ. Others wanted him arrested. They reasoned that Jesus couldn’t possibly be the Messiah, because the Old Testament prophecies said Messiah would come from Bethlehem, and Jesus came from Galilee. Of course they were correct in one sense because Jesus made his home in Galilee, but they didn’t know about his birth in Bethlehem. (see previous post The “Water” That Can Make A Difference In Your Life)

After Jesus spoke to the crowd, the law enforcement officers sent by the Pharisees to arrest Jesus returned empty handed.

Why didn’t you bring him in? The Pharisees asked.

You don’t understand, the officers said, no one ever spoke like this man speaks.

The Pharisees became angry and told the officers they were in the same camp as the people in the crowd who believed Jesus to be the Messiah. They told the officers anyone who believes in Jesus is “accursed.”

As a group, the Pharisees said this, except for one of their number. Nicodemus spoke out against this line of thinking.

Nicodemus said: “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?”

Nicodemus wanted to get the facts first, before making a judgment. But they shouted him down. They said, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Will You Give Jesus A Hearing?

So that’s the question. What will you do with Jesus? Will you evaluate him, as the Pharisees did, without having all the facts? Or will you, as Nicodemus proposed, (and later did himself) give him a hearing and learn what he did, and does?

After a long time as a Christian I was in a conversation with a man more godly and wise than myself, and this man told me to study the life of Jesus. I was polite (on the outside) but on the inside I was laughing. I was a regular church goer, I usually attended twice a week. On top of that I’m a note taker. On top of that I listen to Christian radio, so, study Jesus, really? I’ve been studying the Bible for years now. I brushed it aside, at first.

But then I thought, what do I really have to lose? So I started studying the life of Jesus in earnest, and it wasn’t long before I realized the great value in doing so. I was like those men who went to arrest him. No one ever spoke like this man. No one ever lived like this man. No one ever loved like this man. That was my reaction. I’m amazed at the change in my life. The deeper I go into the life of Jesus, the more impressed I am with him and the less impressed I am with myself. The deeper I go into his life, the more I want to bless him. The deeper I go into his life the greater his Spirit wells up inside me. The deeper I go into Jesus’ life the more I love him.

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve been a Christian for awhile. If you are, would it be alright if I gave you my best advice? Give Jesus a hearing and learn what he did (and does). Study Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Study in an intentional manner. Study with a purpose. Study with the intent of learning everything you can about Jesus.

I promise you, you’ll be so glad you did.

You’ll never regret it.

You’re life will change, in the best possible way.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

References and Resources:

Jennifer Latson, Why That ‘Dingo’s Got My Baby’ Line Isn’t FunnyTime Magazine, 2014

Clyde Haberman, Vindication at Last for a Woman Scorned by Australia’s News Outlets, New York Times, 2014

Bible Gateway

Dingo image via Gabriela Dominguez – Creative Commons

3 Comments on ““A Dingo Ate My Baby” (And why you should put Jesus on trial)

  1. Thank you! What an amazing story about the Dingo! More amazing still is how the mother was found not guilty when it was all said and done. Our Savior looks out for the helpless, the hungry, and the prisoners of all types who have been wrongly charged.
    I’m reminded of the story of Joseph! The good news is that we know where that child is now, and one day will reunite with family. Still, I’m looking forward to talking with Joseph as his story is my favorite in the Scriptures and I’m sure that he must have felt like the imprisonment was forever yet was found to be for a grander purpose.
    On another note, I could never understand why we start reading the Bible at the end of the book rather than the beginning for Messiah/Jesus is all over the Old Testament interacting with His Father on events. After all, He is His Father’s right arm and alphabetically is the First letter (Aleph) and the Last letter (Tav). And everything in between!

    • Joseph’s story is one of my favorites too Irene. Good parallel there. Thank you for the comment and say hi to Mike for me!

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