Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has called for tighter controls on immigration when Gordon Brown becomes prime minister.
Lord Carey says Christian identity remains important in Britain
He told the BBC the issue would "not go away" and that stricter controls were needed alongside clemency for refugees.
Lord Carey also urged Mr Brown not to forget "the importance of Christian identity" to the UK population.
The Refugee Council said he was out of step with other religious groups and that controls were already strict.
Speaking on Radio 4's Sunday programme about his hopes for the Brown government, Lord Carey said: "At home, the issue of immigration will not go away and I hope that he will impose stricter controls on those entering the United Kingdom."
But he added that he understood Mr Brown was "very concerned" about British identity and that there was a need to balance control with "clemency in the case of some people who need refugee status".
He added: "I hope he will not forget the importance of Christian identity at the very heart of being a part of the United Kingdom."
Tim Finch, of the Refugee Council, questioned why Lord Carey had intervened on the subject when "controls on immigration and asylum were so strong already".
He added: "Lord Carey would seem to be out of step with the Church of England and other Christian and faith groups which have been in the forefront of calls for more generosity to be shown to migrants and refugees."
The programme also heard from Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, the Muslim Council of Britain's secretary general, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, and chairman of the Hindu Council UK, Dr Jagdish Sharma.
Mr Brown has previously said he would like to see immigrants doing community work to help them settle before being granted UK citizenship.