Religious leaders have condemned a plan by the government to force them to register themselves and be subjected to vetting.
The draft proposals, leaked to the Daily Telegraph, will require imams, rabbis, priests and other religious figures to join a national register of faith leaders, receive special training and be subject to security checks.
Faith leaders who wish to work within the public sector, such as in universities, schools and prisons, will have to join the register.
The measures, which are part of a wider Home Office campaign to counter extremism, will be published in the autumn
Prime Minister David Cameron has said the fight against Islamist extremism is the “struggle of our generation”.
Maulana Shah Raza, an imam who is a founding member of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, said the Government should not “meddle in religious affairs or to expand the state’s involvement in deciding on religious and theological issues”.
The Catholic Church is among the religious bodies not consulted on the proposals, even though clergy are included in the new measures.
Catholic priest Father Jeffrey Steel said on Twitter: “Exactly what China did and does. Don’t submit!”
Christian writer and blogger Barrie Lawrence tweeted: “Faith leaders’ in the UK will have to register? I thought such predictions were alarmist – it’s starting to happen.”
The Home Office’s strategy reportedly says Whitehall will “require all faiths to maintain a national register of faith leaders” and the Government will “set out the minimum level for training and checks” faith leaders must have to join the register.
The plans also reveal how the government wants to ban those individuals whose behaviour, whilst not meeting the “parameters of extremism”, undermines “British values”.
The leaked strategy is critical of the police and local councils for their failure to tackle scandals such as the Trojan Horse plot to take over state schools in Birmingham, extremism and corruption in Tower Hamlets and the child grooming scandal in Rotherham.
The document states: “The police response to Rotherham and Trojan Horse was hindered by a poor understanding of isolated communities and a fear of being seen as racist.
“This is not acceptable. We will therefore ensure that the police have a better understanding of extremist behaviour.”
Extremism, according to the Home Office proposal, is defined as “the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”
The Home Office has not commented.