The other day I was partaking in my favorite pastime — sitting on my ass, neurotically alternating between the Drudge Report and Microsoft Outlook — when I came across a disturbing story about the Westboro Baptist Church. (Here’s the link:

Founded by Fred Phelps, this cult of pseudo-Christians from Kansas believe that God hates America because of its rampant tolerance of homosexuality and that He is punishing us for it.

(Cue “Dueling Banjos”).

One such punishment is the death of American soldiers in Iraq. But it gets worse. These hayseeds picket the funerals of U.S. soldiers, heckling their families with signs like “thank God for dead soldiers.” See, and you thought all psycho religious fanatics came from the Middle East (and then if they’re lucky, became students at Yale).

To be honest, I thought I was reading about an episode of “South Park.” It was that over-the-top. They think that we “fag enablers” will all soon burn on Judgment Day. I wonder how they know which horrible events are punishments for the gay thing. Sept. 11? Katrina? Paul Walker movies? Toad’s Saturday Night Dance Party? Are these all punishments for our toleration of faggotry?

After I stopped laughing in disbelief, I gave it some more thought. These hicks may be on to something. I mean, when people hear “America,” they think, “now there’s a country that loves gays.” The United States embraces homosexuals with a big gay bear hug. This cult knows that America is seen the world over as a bastion of gay rights, a vanguard that puts Ancient Greece to shame. Look at the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa …their people aren’t being killed in Iraq. And why not? Well, I thought it was because they didn’t have any soldiers there. But it’s obviously because they have absolutely no tolerance for homosexuality (well, besides that whole legal same-sex marriage thing).

Finding a connection between Iraq and tolerance for gays was harder than finding a connection between Iraq and al Qaida, but Fred Phelps was able to do it (He’s got a real purdy mouth on him, don’t he?). It’s just a testament to his incredible use of logic and reasoning.

So maybe the inbred intellectuals from Kansas are right, maybe the end is near. Think about it – J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison were the two best players in college basketball, and they are both white. That has to be a sign of the apocalypse, right? Michael Moore hasn’t released a book in more than a year – again, the coming apocalypse.

And this is perhaps the most disturbing sign of the apocalypse: A couple weeks ago, I watched the lame-ass Oscars, then forgot to watch a double dose of “24” the next night. Let me explain — I don’t care what the stars are wearing, I had not seen any of the nominated movies, and I have a general distaste for award shows, but I am a huge fan of “24.” I think Jack Bauer is the greatest television/movie cop of all time, I think the people who write “24”‘s elaborate conspiracy theories should be hired by our government as national security analysts (can’t do worse than the current crop, right?).

So me remembering to watch the Oscars and then forgetting to watch “24” is like Angelina Jolie remembering she has a “Billy Bob” tattoo and forgetting where she put her U.N. Global Humanitarian Award. Do you smell what I smell? Mmm, fresh apocalypse.

So maybe the Westboro Baptist “Church” is right, and the end is near. God is punishing us for our tolerance (if there’s one thing Jesus hated, it was an open mind). And maybe Islamic fundamentalists are right, God rewards suicide bombers with 72 virgins.

But maybe (probably) they’re wrong. Something tells me God doesn’t give a shit about any of this and He’s wondering how the hell religion got all mixed up with sex, violence, politics, Teletubbies and the humiliation of mourners. Or, as Seinfeld would say, “I don’t see why religion got all tied up and connected with that.”

Whether they’re blowing themselves up in a market, heckling grieving parents, or attending Yale at age 27, religious fanatics think their way is righteous. So it’s like they are in God’s exclusive club. And when you’re in an exclusive club, it’s exclusive because there aren’t many people in it. So, then, why do the “righteous” ones try to get everyone into their club? Why would they want heaven to be crowded? You don’t see members of the Freemasons going around and recruiting people, because then it wouldn’t be prestigious. Shouldn’t religious fanatics just be glad that they’re part of the “enlightened” few who supposedly get to go to heaven, and just leave the rest of us alone?

Look, I have nothing against religion. I’m a Catholic, I pray, I go to church and feel guilty like many others. Religion should be a recipe — it gives you all the ingredients for a good dish, but everyone puts it together a little differently and the end results look and taste a little different.

Your religious recipe is a secret recipe. I shouldn’t have to make my cookies your way.

Why do people waste energy imposing “righteousness”? Really, there are many more things one should waste brain power on – critiquing Charlize Theron’s Oscar dress or wondering how George Mason made it to the Final Four, for instance. Otherwise, you’ll end up like Fred Phelps — after a hard day of thinking about gay sex and making yourself feel important by insulting parents who just lost their sons and daughters in a war, you’ll go home and watch the prison shower scene from “American History X” in slow motion while pleasuring yourself.

If that’s the road to salvation, you can count me out. The Oscars are better, anyway.

Carl Williott is starting his own religious cult that blames the Iraq war on the absence of mint-chocolate chip ice cream in Yale College dining halls. He and his minions will continue to protest and heckle students as they patronize Ashley’s until the ice cream shortage is resolved and, consequently, the fighting in Iraq ceases.