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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President Trump is welcomed by the prefect of the papal household Georg Gaenswein as he arrives at the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis on Wednesday. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Trump Avoids Major Slips On International Religious Tour

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Trump Takes Religion Tour On First International Trip

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Trump Will Meet Pope Francis At Apostolic Palace During Vatican Visit

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Callista Gingrich, wife of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, waves to the crowd during the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016. She was nominated this week as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. John Moore/Getty Images hide caption

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The sun sets over the old Saudi palace on the outskirts of the Saudi capital Riyadh. President Trump will visit Saudi Arabia, as well as Israel and the Vatican, starting Friday. Hassan Ammar/AP hide caption

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Wading Into Murky Waters, Trump Trip To Advocate Religious Unity

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Facing Global Persecution, Christian Leaders Urge U.S. For More Protection

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Trump Issues Executive Order Designed To Protect Religious Freedom

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Morning News Brief: GOP Health Care Plan, Trump Eases Religious Group Restrictions

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Pedestrians walk past St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. The number of Americans who list their church affiliation as "none" has certainly increased, but more than 70 percent still identify generally as Christian. Marianne O'Leary/Flickr hide caption

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Why Religion Is More Durable Than Commonly Thought In Modern Society

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A third-grader reads from the Quran. Neha Rashid /NPR hide caption

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This Islamic School Helps Students Build Their American And Muslim Identity

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Amy Clayton teaches a fifth-grade history class at St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Md. The school, which almost closed eight years ago, has experienced growth over the past few years, largely due to an influx of Catholic families who were drawn to Hyattsville by a desire to live among others who share their values. Tom Gjelten/NPR hide caption

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Catholics Build 'Intentional' Community Of Like-Minded Believers

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Imam Johari Abdul-Malik (center), of Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Northern Virginia, speaks alongside other leaders of the Muslim community during a December 2015 news conference in Washington, D.C., about growing "Islamophobia" in the United States. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Push To Name Muslim Brotherhood A Terrorist Group Worries U.S. Offshoots

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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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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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