Do not worry about the difference of religion, because both are valid and respectable. Going to different middle and high schools won't be an issue since you are both close to one another's home. Having space between you and the person you are interested in is a good thing that keeps you focused on you and school. It is important when you like someone to make sure they are your friend first, friendship is the building block. If you don't know if he likes you, then I would say that you should simply ask. Make sure you tell him that his answer won't change your friendship, and it shouldn't. He should always be your friend first.