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Mormon church explains past ban on black pastors, disavows past teachings

The Mormon church is providing its most extensive explanation yet about the faith's past exclusion of blacks from the priesthood with a new Web posting that for the first time disavows previous teachings.

The statement on the church's website says an era of great racial divide influenced the church, and it pins the ban on a 1852 announcement from church president Brigham Young.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints barred men of African descent from the priesthood until 1978.

Mormon scholars call the recent posting a significant moment in church history for what has been a sensitive topic for church leaders and the 15 million members worldwide.

Mormon church officials say it's part of a series of new postings to explain or expand on certain gospel topics for its members.