Tom Gjelten Tom Gjelten covers issues of religion, faith, and belief for NPR News.
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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Steve Bannon Criticizes Catholic Bishops For Response To DACA

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For people who believe in God, natural disasters can challenge faith. For some, it becomes impossible to believe there is a God in command when truly awful things happen. Charlie Riedel/AP hide caption

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'He Has A Reason': How Natural Disasters Test The Faithful

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How Natural Disasters Can Be Faith-Challenging Experiences

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Megachurch Leader Joel Osteen Under Fire

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Attention On Hate Speech Drives Donations To Fight Anti-Semitism

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Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. (right) praised President Trump for his "bold truthful statement" about Charlottesville. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Trump's Evangelical Advisers Stand By Their Man

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The Role Of Solar Eclipses In Religion

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Liberty University Presidnet Jerry Falwell, Jr., right, praised President Trump for his "bold truthful statement" about Charlottesville. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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In Contrast To Business Councils, Trump's Evangelical Advisers Stay Put

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Trump Adviser Stephen Miller Undermines Poem's Connection To Statue Of Liberty

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Members of Michigan's Chaldean community rally against religious persecution in Iraq in 2010. Paul Sancya/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

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After Fleeing Persecution, U.S. Christian Refugees Now Face Deportation

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Christians Seeking Refuge May Get Caught Up In Trump's Deportations

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A plethora of religious iconography fill the National Museum of American History's new exhibit, Religion in Early America. From left to right, an 18th century Torah scroll, a 17th century Catholic cross and a children's Noah's Ark playset from 1828 sit on display. Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

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To Understand How Religion Shapes America, Look To Its Early Days

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Supreme Court Sides With Religious School In Church-State Case

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