Washington, Nov. 20--(RNS) A Texas congressman wants to make "God BlessAmerica" the country's national hymn, but a leading atheist watchdoggroup says the bill is another example of "feel-good religion" thatoffends nonbelievers.

Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, and 29 other House members from bothparties want to give Irving Berlin's patriotic anthem official status.Green's bill, introduced last month, has been referred to a Housecommittee.

Although Green's office was unavailable for comment, the bill hasAmerican Atheists Inc. talking, saying the job of public officials is torun the government, not "organizing or encouraging worship services." "Isn't it foolish to be calling upon `our God' to bless us when Islamic terrorists like Osama bin Laden are doing the same thing?" asked Ron Barrier, communications director for American Atheists. "We should be standing up for separation of church and state, not trying to turn our secular republic into a theocracy."

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