Are you ready for this week’s faith and culture recap? To begin, let’s take a look at the church-state battles that have been raging in recent days.

First, read about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new plan to use religious schools to help implement his public pre-kindergarten program — and the complicated issues that come along with it.

And take a look at the four simple words a Texas tax collector added to his official stationary that have some critics up in arms.

“There are people who will see it and see a religious statement and there are others that will see it and see a patriotic statement. I look at it and see both,” the official told KTVT-TV.

Image source: Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: Shutterstock

In yet another case, a military recruitment center is being accused of improperly displaying and allowing the distribution of camouflage-covered Bibles, an alleged constitutional violation.

And what about churches taking political stances? One atheist group believes that’s a problem — and they did something about it by filing a lawsuit against the IRS.

“Our victory ensures that churches are not being singled out for preferential treatment as they were,” a leader of the Freedom From Religion Foundation said in a statement.

On the educational front, be sure to take a look at this story about why an Oregon school district is halting plans to make condoms available to children in grades six through twelve.

And as the Gaza conflict simmers, it seems the Israel Defense Forces allegedly obtained a copy of a Hamas “urban warfare” manual, which might imply and corroborate that Hamas is using human shields in its fight with Israel.

Also, read this heartbreaking report about the violence against Christians in Iraq and how the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is recruiting children.

And before he left for Liberia, Dr. Kent Brantly — the American doctor being treated for Ebola — gave a sermon explaining why he decided to serve there.

“On difficult days when I want to give up or when I wonder if I’ve made the right decision, retelling my story reminds me of how God has brought me to where I am,” he said in his message.

Dr. Kent Brantly and his wife, Amber, are seen in an undated photo provided by Samaritan's Purse. Brantly became the first person infected with Ebola to be brought to the United States from Africa, arriving at at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. Fellow aid worker Nancy Writebol was expected to arrive in several days. Experts say Emory University Hospital is one of the safest places in the world to treat someone with Ebola, the virus that has killed more than 700 people in Africa. (AP Photo/Samaritan's Purse) AP Photo/Samaritan's Purse

Dr. Kent Brantly and his wife, Amber, are seen in an undated photo provided by Samaritan’s Purse. (AP Photo/Samaritan’s Purse)

And take a look at the unusual way that famous pastor and writer John Piper responded to tweets by Donald Trump about bringing Brantly and another American with the disease back to U.S.

Miss Universe owner Donald Trump arrives for the final of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. AP

Miss Universe owner Donald Trump arrives for the final of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. (AP)

If you’re looking for a longer weekend read, then don’t miss this profile of Matt Chandler, the prominent pastor who survived brain cancer.

And check out why a major Christian organization removed Pastor Mark Driscoll’s church from its ranks — a decision made with “deep sorrow,” according to a statement released on the group’s website.

Also: What are the most (and least) religious schools in America? The Princeton Review has the answer.

Finally, watch this video message to President Barack Obama by the children of an American pastor imprisoned in Syria. But make sure you have a box of tissues nearby first.

Front page image via Shutterstock.com