President Barack Obama has been urged by the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, comprised of 700 pastors, not to "preach" and impose his views in support of same-sex marriage on the Kenyan people when he visits the African country in July.
"We would like to send a strong message to the U.S. president that the homosexuality debate should not become part of his agenda, as it has been his tendency whenever he comes to Africa," Bishop Mark Kariuki of the Evangelical Alliance, told the Kenyan Daily Nation newspaper on Monday.
"[Obama] should respect the faith, culture and people of Kenya when he comes in July," he added. "He should not put [homosexuality] as one of his main agenda[s] in the country."
The pastors said in a separate statement that "President Barack Obama is welcome to visit Kenya this summer — but please, leave the preaching to us."
And Nairobi Cardinal John Njue, who serves as president of the Kenyan Episcopal Conference, said that Obama has "ruined" American society with his support for gay marriage.
"Those people who have already ruined their society … let them not become our teachers to tell us where to go," Njue said. "I think we need to act according to our own traditions and our faiths."
Obama's state visit to Kenya, the country where he traces back part of his heritage, will be his first return trip to the country since he became president, the LA Times noted.
America has shared a strained relationship with Kenya in recent years, stemming from the U.S.
government's opposition to President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was elected in 2013 despite being charged with crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court.
July's state visit is aimed at rebuilding that relationship, with Secretary of State John F. Kerry already meeting with Kenyatta earlier in May to discuss counter-terrorism efforts and security cooperation.
Obama has urged the African government to decriminalize homosexuality, and in 2013 said during a speech alongside Senegalese President Macky Sall that gay people should not be discriminated against.
"When it comes to people's personal views and their religious faith, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there," Obama said at the time.
"But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don't believe in discrimination of any sort," he added.
The comments prompted Kenyan officials to urge Obama to respect culture and religious beliefs.
"No one should have any worry about Kenya's stand as a God-fearing nation. President Obama is a powerful man but we trust in God as it is written in the Bible that cursed is the man who puts trust in another man," Kenya Deputy President William Ruto said back then.
Kenya, a majority Christian country, does not allow gay marriage and criminalizes same-sex acts, as is the case in a number of other African states.
The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya has also said that it is wary of Obama's upcoming visit.
"We are not prepared to accept, hear or listen to anyone lecturing us on how our culture is good or bad," said IRCK Chairman Adan Wachu.