Tom Gjelten Tom Gjelten covers issues of religion, faith, and belief for NPR News.
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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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Story Archive

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

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Pope Paul VI acknowledges cheers as standing on platform in Bogota, Colombia, on Aug. 22, 1968. AP hide caption

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AP

50 Years Ago, The Pope Called Birth Control 'Intrinsically Wrong'

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Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting on Wednesday in Dallas. Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images hide caption

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Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images

Pence Speech Riles Some As Southern Baptists' Moderates Gain Strength

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Southern Baptists Convene In Dallas To Elect A New President

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The wedding cake display seen at Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver in 2013. Brennan Linsley/AP hide caption

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Brennan Linsley/AP

Court Sees 'Hostility' To Religious Beliefs In Case Of Baker And Same-Sex Couple

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Roman Catholics And Evangelicals Move Apart In Their Political Priorities

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Southern Baptist President Removed Over Language On Sexual Abuse Of Women

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Southern Baptist Leader Removed From Post Over Comments On Domestic Abuse

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White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin unveil the entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images hide caption

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Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Religion A Large Presence As U.S. Embassy Opens In Jerusalem

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Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, is scheduled to speak at an upcoming Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas. Here, he speaks in Indianapolis in 2004. Tom Strickland /AP hide caption

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Tom Strickland /AP

Southern Baptist Women Protest Church Leader's Comments

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In his resignation letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Rev. Patrick Conroy noted that he was stepping down "as you have requested" and has since made it clear that he had no interest in leaving Capitol Hill. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Ryan's Dismissal Of House Chaplain Sparks Outrage And Suspicion

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Caring For Migrants Is As Important As Opposing Abortion, Pope Says

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CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies on worldwide threats during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Feb. 13, 2018. Pompeo, President Trump's pick to lead the State Department, has portrayed the fight against terrorism as an epic holy war. Saul Loeb /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Trump's National Security And State Department Picks Alarm American Muslims

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