Doby Photography/NPR
Tom Gjelten 2010
Doby Photography/NPR

Tom Gjelten

Correspondent, Religion and Belief, National Desk

Tom Gjelten covers issues of religion, faith, and belief for NPR News, a beat that encompasses such areas as the changing religious landscape in America, the formation of personal identity, the role of religion in politics, and social and cultural conflict arising from religious differences. His reporting draws on his many years covering national and international news from posts in Washington and around the world.

In 1986, Gjelten became one of NPR's pioneer foreign correspondents, posted first in Latin America and then in Central Europe. In the years that followed, he covered the wars in Central America, social and political strife in South America, the first Gulf War, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the transitions to democracy in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Gjelten's latest book is A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story, published in 2015. His reporting from Sarajevo from 1992 to 1994 was the basis for his book Sarajevo Daily: A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege (HarperCollins), praised by the New York Times as "a chilling portrayal of a city's slow murder." He is also the author of Professionalism in War Reporting: A Correspondent's View (Carnegie Corporation) and a contributor to Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know (W. W. Norton).

After returning from his overseas assignments, Gjelten covered U.S. diplomacy and military affairs, first from the State Department and then from the Pentagon. He was reporting live from the Pentagon at the moment it was hit on September 11, 2001, and he was NPR's lead Pentagon reporter during the early war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. Gjelten has also reported extensively from Cuba in recent years. His 2008 book, Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause (Viking), is a unique history of modern Cuba, told through the life and times of the Bacardi rum family. The New York Times selected it as a "Notable Nonfiction Book," and the Washington Post, Kansas City Star, and San Francisco Chronicle all listed it among their "Best Books of 2008." His new book, A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story (Simon & Schuster), recounts the impact on America of the 1965 Immigration Act, which officially opened the country's doors to immigrants of color.

Since joining NPR in 1982 as labor and education reporter, Gjelten has won numerous awards for his work, including two Overseas Press Club Awards, a George Polk Award, and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a regular panelist on the PBS program "Washington Week," and a member of the editorial board at World Affairs Journal. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he began his professional career as a public school teacher and freelance writer.

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Protesters and LGBT activists rally outside Trump International Hotel this month in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images hide caption

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In Religious Freedom Debate, 2 American Values Clash

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Philadelphia Cemetery Vandalized In Wave Of Anti-Semitic Attacks

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Refugee Agency World Relief Lays Off Workers In Response To Trump

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In his campaign, Trump criticized President Obama for his reluctance to use the words "radical Islamic extremism." The Trump administration may now want to refocus key programs on Muslim extremists. Kamran Jebreili/AP hide caption

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Kamran Jebreili/AP

Trump Reportedly Plans To Refocus Violent Extremism Initiative On Muslims

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Trump Opens Prayer Breakfast With Remarks About 'Apprentice' Ratings

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Some Trump Advisers Have Made Anti-Muslim Comments In The Past

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Christian Leaders Question Trump's Promise To Favor Christian Refugees

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The HIAS welcomes refugees in Philadelphia in 2015. "The faith groups are going to kick and scream and object to every aspect of this disgusting, vile, executive order, which makes America out to be something that it's not," says Mark Hetfield, the organization's president. "You know, we are a country that welcomes refugees." Bill McCay/Getty Images for MoveOn.org hide caption

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Bill McCay/Getty Images for MoveOn.org

Trump Refugee Ban Clashes With Faith-Based Groups' Religious Missions

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Trump Takes On Ambitious Plan To Eliminate Terrorism By Radical Islamists

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Democratic members of Congress address the worshipers at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center after Friday prayers on Dec. 4 in Falls Church, Va. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Calll hide caption

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Muslim-Americans Remain Anxious About Trump Administration

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, will be one of six faith leaders to pray at Donald Trump's inauguration. Victor J. Blue/Getty Images hide caption

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With His Choice Of Inauguration Prayer Leaders, Trump Shows His Values

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