Sen. Brad Holyman, a Manhattan Democrat, has written a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, urging him to reject a bill passed by both houses the Legislature is session that establishes “an official state hymn of remembrance” for veterans, arguing it violates the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state.

The hymn, “Here Rests in Honored Glory,” was written by former Onondaga Community College Professor Emeritus, Dr. Donald Miller, and has been played in memory of our service men and women at events and ceremonies across the world, according to the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, a Syracuse-area Democrat.

The assemblyman called the hymn a “moving composition” and “a fitting tribute to those that served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”

But Hoylman notes the lyrics of the piece include several overtly religious references, and appears to be based on a 19th century hymn traditionally sung on Palm Sunday to mark Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

“As you can see, the lyrics are not only religious, but they are explicitly Christian, representing a clear violation of the Establishment Clause,” the senator wrote.

Hoylman also sought to link the hymn to the Trump administration’s travel ban, which was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that making a Christian hymn the official state hymn of New York contributes to a culture of “profiling and religious discrimination.”

Those were Cuomo’s own words in decrying the president’s ban, and deeming the high court’s decision to uphold it a “stain on this country’s history.”

Hoylman said that when the bill, which was sponsored by the Senate by retiring Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, an erstwhile GOP gubernatorial candidate, first came up in his chamber back in February, he requested as the ranking member of the Investigations and Government Operations Committee that it be removed from consideration to allow committee members to read the lyrics.

According to Hoylman, the committee never again considered the bill, which was discharged by the GOP Senate leadership in the final days of the session – “seemingly to avoid controversy” – and passed.

“As we prepare to celebrate July 4t1 this weekend, what better way to celebrate Independence Day than supporting the separation of church and state, a founding principle of our nation? In the spirit of American independence, I respectfully ask you to veto S6856A/A8704A,” Hoylman concluded.

Sen. Brad Hoylman asks Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto hymn bill. by liz_benjamin6490 on Scribd