A missionary millionaire's plan to build a second Christian city academy in the Midlands is being opposed by local Lib Dems and a Labour MP.
Businessman Bob Edmiston hopes to sponsor the new school in Coventry which will be based on a "Christian ethos".
The move is made possible under a controversial Labour policy allowing the private sector to co-finance new city academies to replace failing schools in urban areas.
Warwickshire-based Mr Edmiston, whose IM Group has made him one of the richest men in the country, has already pumped more than £2 million into creating the Grace Academy in Solihull.
The 57-year-old evangelist now plans to replace Woodway Park School in Coventry with a similar Christian-based academy.
But Coun Derek Benefield (Upper Stoke), leader of the Lib Dem group in Coventry, claimed youngsters would have religion forced upon them against their will.
"A secular state school is going to be replaced, in effect, by a religious school," he said.
"At the moment, religious schools are optional. In this case, parents who live in the catchment area may be forced to send their children to this school against their will if places are not available in other school.
"This totally flies in the face of Tony Blair's talk about parental 'choice'."
Coun Benefield claimed the city academy movement - where sponsors stump up about £2 million towards the £25 million cost of a new school - represented privatisation through the back door.
"The private benefactor will have a very big say in the ethos of the school, even though they put in such a small percentage of the cost," he said.
The number of city academies is set to grow from fewer than 20 now to 200 by the end of the decade under Government plans.
Christian groups appear keen to gain a strong presence in the programme. Christian charity the Oasis Trust set up an 'academies consultancy' shortly after the expansion drive was announced to help other believers to sponsor the new secondaries.
Mr Edmiston Grace Academy in Chelmsley Wood will replace Whitesmore School and is due to open in September 2006.
The entrepreneur who made his money importing cars and is estimated to be worth between £300-£400 million has said he wants to create three in total in the West Midlands.
But outspoken critic Ken Purchase, Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East attacked the move and his party ' s policy on city academies.
"I think Labour's policy on this is an absolute disaster," he said.
"I say keep religion out of education. Leave that job to the parents and the church.
"If churches wishes people to become Christian and Gurdwaras wish them to become Sikh and people from the Muslim faith want them to learn Islam they have a perfect right to do so.
"I absolutely defend their right to do this. But keep it out of our schools."
Mr Purchase also attacked Labour's emphasis on greater choice of different types of schools.
"I am committed to a fully comprehensive system of education at primary and secondary level," he said.
"I believe that is the fair way we bring about the learning this country so dearly needs.
"We are moving further away from this under my Government." Coventry City Council claimed the city academy proposals represented the best way of replacing outdated facilities at Woodway Park.
Chris West, head of children's services finance, said: "The opportunity of working with a sponsor can bring about these improvements much more quickly than any other way. The expression of interest for an academy has already been warmly welcomed by governors and there will be full consultation in September."