Almost one-quarter of likely voters say that religious leaders who criticize gay marriage are guilty of a hate crime, a new poll finds.

According to Rasmussen Reports, 24% say it’s a hate crime when pastors and other faith leaders criticize social policies like gay marriage — even if those policies violate the basic tenets of their religion.

The vast majority of voters, 63%, disagree. They claim that it is not a hate crime when religious leaders stand up for the principles of their faith.

More than three-quarters of those polled, 77%, believe that the government should not be allowed to prosecute religious leaders for comments that are critical of social or political policies that are in violation of their religion. Only 14% think that it’s acceptable for the government to prosecute religious leaders on that basis.

Voters are more evenly split on their views concerning the commingling of religion and government, though. Thirty-four percent believe that religious leaders are practicing politics by criticizing government policies that violate their religious beliefs. However, 40% say that such criticism is not politics. More than a quarter, 26%, aren’t sure.

More than three-quarters of those polled said that their religious faith is important in their daily life.

The poll was conducted in response to Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s recent attempt to subpoena sermons, speeches, and private communications by pastors in that city who might have expressed opposition to a proposed gay rights ordinance.

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