Fred Phelps and his nutty Westboro Baptist Church members have been in the news a lot lately for protesting the funerals of gay people, American soldiers, and most recently, Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of Senator John Edwards. On the positive side, these hateful people are generally reviled by most people, including other Baptists and Christians in general. However, while condemning their actions, most Christians also try to deny that these Baptists Christians are not "real Christians". Let's imagine for a moment that the Westboro Baptists were Muslims. While they still would be reviled by most decent human beings, I don't think people would buy the defense that they weren't "real Muslims". That defense would be rejected outright if used when speaking of the 9/11 terrorists, Bin Laden, suicide bombers and al Qaeda. These groups were raised with Islamic values, read the Koran, pray to Allah, go to mosques, and call themselves Muslims - therefore, they ARE Muslims. Why should it work for Christians? The Westboro Baptists were raised under Christianity, read the Bible, pray to God and Jesus, go to church, and call themselves Christians. By any definition, they ARE Christians.
Instead of claiming that fellow believers are, in fact, not "real" Christians, isn't it better to confront the problem by speaking out against them? Sweeping problems under the rug is not a solution, and neither is living in denial.