Tom Gjelten Tom Gjelten covers issues of religion, faith, and belief for NPR News.
Tom Gjelten 2010
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Tom Gjelten

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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Eleanor Roosevelt holds up a copy of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in December 1948. Fotosearch/Getty Images hide caption

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Boundlessly Idealistic, Universal Declaration Of Human Rights Is Still Resisted

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John Allen Chau, an American self-styled adventurer and Christian missionary, was killed and buried by a tribe of hunter-gatherers on a remote island in the Indian Ocean where he had gone to proselytize, according to local law enforcement officials. @johnachau via Reuters hide caption

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Killing Of American Missionary Ignites Debate Over How To Evangelize

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The Faithful Are Angry As Catholic Church Fails To Unite On Addressing Clergy Abuse

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Rev. William Barber spoke earlier this month at a get-out-the-vote rally at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.. Tom Gjelten /NPR hide caption

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Preaching Gospel Of Love And Justice, William Barber Mobilizes Progressive Christians

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A visitor walks by a memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shooting in Pittsburgh on Monday. Cathal McNaughton/Reuters hide caption

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Trump Shouldn't Be Shocked Anti-Semitism Persists: Conspiratorial Rhetoric Feeds It

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Matthew Shepard's family leaves with his remains after public ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on Friday. Cameron Pollack/NPR hide caption

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'You Are Safe Now': Matthew Shepard Laid To Rest At National Cathedral

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Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl. The two met in 2015 during the pope's visit to Washington, D.C. Gary Cameron/Reuters hide caption

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Frustration Grows As N.C. Schools Are Slow To Reopen After Florence

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Many People Hit By Hurricane Florence Are Still Dependent On Charity Relief Groups

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Some Of The Problems That Hurricanes Bring Emerge Only After The Storm Leaves

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