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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Pope Francis has summoned church leaders from around the world to the Vatican in February to address the continuing clergy sex abuse crisis. Some bishops say the abuse is due to gay priests within the church. Andrew Medichini/AP hide caption

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As Catholic Sex Abuse Crisis Deepens, Conservative Circles Blame Gay Priests

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Pope Summons Bishops To Meeting On Sexual Abuse

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Pope Francis will meet at the Vatican with leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church, including the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, to discuss clergy sexual abuse. Andrew Medichini/AP hide caption

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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced her own clergy abuse investigation last month. Seth Perlman/AP hide caption

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Has Catholic Canon Law Aggravated The Clergy Abuse Crisis?

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Pennsylvania Grand Jury Investigation Into Clergy Sex Abuse May Set New Precedent

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Allegations Surface That Pope Francis Knew Of Alleged Abuses By Former D.C. Cardinal

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Victim Advocates Of Clergy Abuse Say They Won't Bury the Past

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol on Tuesday. A Pennsylvania grand jury says its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims in records in six Roman Catholic dioceses. Matt Rourke/AP hide caption

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Clergy Sex Abuse Raises Questions About Financial And Reputational Costs To Churches

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Pope Francis And U.S. Bishops Respond To Report On Sex Abuse In Pennsylvania

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Pope Francis, who visited Philadelphia in 2015, has been challenged by the widening abuse scandal, despite his efforts to deal with it. Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis Deepens As Authorities Lag In Response

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Sex Abuse Problems Persist Inside The Roman Catholic Church

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For A Church Defined By Tradition, Changing Catholic Doctrine Can Present A Problem

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