Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards says Jesus would be appalled at how the United States has ignored the plight of the suffering, and that he believes children should have private time to pray at school.

Edwards, in an interview with the Web site Beliefnet.com, said Jesus would be most upset with the selfishness of Americans and the country's willingness to go to war "when it's not necessary."

"I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs," Edwards told the site. "I think he would be appalled, actually."

Edwards also said he was against teacher-led prayers in public schools, but he added that "allowing time for children to pray for themselves, to themselves, I think is not only OK, I think it's a good thing."

In the interview, the former North Carolina senator discussed how he lost touch with his day-to-day faith during college, but that it "came roaring back" after the death of his 16-year-old son, Wade, in 1996.

Edwards has often cited religion as a part of his politics, frequently linking his efforts to fight poverty as a matter of morality.

Edwards was interviewed by David Kuo, a conservative Christian who served as deputy director of President Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives until 2003. Kuo wrote a book, "Tempting Faith, An Inside Story of Political Seduction," that said Bush aides privately called conservative Christians "nuts," "ridiculous" and "goofy."

Edwards told Kuo he stood by a decision to keep two bloggers on his staff despite their provocative writings criticizing the Catholic Church. Edwards said he also found the writing offensive, but "decided to forgive them and stand by them, knowing there would be potential political consequences for that."

The bloggers later quit, saying they didn't want to be a liability to the campaign.