On this site there is plenty of information about what the "official" doctrines of various denominations are, but I doubt that the majority of Christians follow all of these to the letter.

Have there been any studies done to identify beliefs taught by a denomination, but which are widely ignored or not given much weight by its members?

An example would be self-identifying Catholics who use contraception.

To avoid the "no true scotsman" fallacy, consider a member of a denomination to be anyone who identifies themselves as such.

I'm mostly interested in protestant views, but interesting examples from other groups are also welcome.

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    I think it is an interesting question, and seems on-topic (IMHO) as long as it sticks to studies (not personal accounts). It is, I suspect, likely that no accurate data is available, though... Dec 10 '11 at 8:49
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    Interesting yes, on topic yes, answerable in a way that's both comprehensive and concise no. The number of variations and alternative interpretations from "official" doctrines is simply too large. It's a good question in general terms but not a good fit for this site.
    – Waggers
    Dec 10 '11 at 14:38
  • @Waggers: I realize it may well be too broad, and I'm not really expecting a comprehensive answer. An overview, links to any studies, or pointers on where to look would suffice.
    – hammar
    Dec 11 '11 at 12:54
  • The title does not match the question, as it leaves the impression that the leaders of most denominations are fundamentalists. With the possible exception of the Southern Baptist Convention in the U.S., this is not true. Dec 12 '11 at 18:13

The hardest part in this answer is to distinguish Evangelicals from Fundamentalists, who share the same doctrines, but a different culture.

The Fundamentalist movement itself takes it's name from a set of books called "The Fundamentals," published in 1925 as a reaction to modern liberalism in church polity. It basically called for a return to literal interpretation of the Bible and an increased focus on holiness. After the humiliating press from William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Monkey Trial in the same year, the movement also advocated a complete separation from and rejection of the culture. This has the practical result of demphasizing missions in most truly fundamentalist churches.

In the 1950s, Carl Henry, Billy Graham, and others reacted to this gap by telling fundamentalists they needed to reenage the culture- the foundation of evangelicalism. And, with Roe v Wade in the 1970s most remaining fundamentalists came to believe that engagement in politics was necessary.

Since Fundamemtalism itself is a movement and not a denomination, it is not possible to speak of doctrines or polity (though in effect most are Baptists in these matters) but rather culture and emphasis.

Primary distinctives are thus Literal Interpretation of the Bible, a rejection of theologically liberal learning (especially of the late 1800s) and a call to be separate from the culture.

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    A useful background on Fundamentalism, but it fails to answer the actual question. Although I think the fault probably lies in the question more than the answer, as I believe the question is far too broad to be answered without being focused much more first.
    – Flimzy
    Dec 11 '11 at 5:52
  • @Affable Geek: Thanks for the background. However, my question is more an attempt to understand moderates than fundamentalists, and the cases where people's beliefs contradict the doctrine. So while it would indeed be impossible to answer my question with doctrine or policy, I'm wondering if there exist any statistical studies that would help my understanding.
    – hammar
    Dec 11 '11 at 13:03

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