It has been suggested that because of the overwhelming support that Americans in the nineteenth century gave to the constitutional arrangements on the relation of church and state, no serious issue such as the relation of the state to public and parochial schools could reach the stage of widespread theological discussion, despite an intense political exchange on the very subject. 1 If we grant the accuracy of this suggestion, we must be careful not to infer that that situation resulted from an absence of attempts to deal with the School Question in a theological way. On the contrary, many of the foremost Catholic spokespersons were engaged in a theological assessment of the educational issue. One important Catholic spokesperson whose views on this matter have largely been misunderstood is Isaac Hecker. This essay aims at presenting Hecker’s position on the School Question within the context of his apologetical theology. Hecker’s thought on the relation of church and state signified a point of departure for a Catholic theory of American democracy which, in turn, provided the context for his stand on the School Question. For him the public school issue constituted a “test-question of the sincerity of the American people in their profession of liberty of conscience in religious matters.” 2 This essay unfolds in three steps: (1) a brief review of Hecker’s involvement with the educative mission of the Church; (2) an outline of his political and theological interpretation of democracy; and, (3) a presentation of his position on the school controversy and why it represented a test question for religious liberty.