A Des Moines, Iowa, Internet company is petitioning President Bush and the U.S. Congress to add “God Bless America” as a national hymn to honor the Sept. 11 tragic events.

Known as the unofficial American national anthem, Irving Berlin’s song has gained renewed popularity following the terrorist attacks.

Through e-mail referrals, Grassfire.net links Internet users to the petition Web page. It then asks visitors to sign the petition by filling in the blanks with personal information and clicking “Submit.” Users receive a personalized link and are encouraged to forward it to their friends.

The company plans to accumulate 100,000 signatures to send to the president this spring. Over 50,000 singed the petition since last November.
Grassfire tells petitioners it will compile weekly reports showing how many people they motivated to sign the petition.

“You will have access to Grassfire.net’s breakthrough system that will let you watch your influence grow day by day,” the site reported.

But the numbers are skewed by the fact that users can create multiple accounts, causing them to be counted more than once.

“Results do overlap,” Grassfire president Steve Elliot told EthicsDaily.com. The Grassfire Web site shows some people inspired more than 5,000 Internet users to sign a Grassfire.net petition.

Elliot said the company gets financial support from larger companies who use Grassfire petition services.

One of Grassfire’s largest clients is the conservative Coral Ridge Ministries led by Presbyterian evangelist James Kennedy in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Alex Smirnov is BCE’s research associate.

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