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

President Trump announced Wednesday that the U.S. views Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a controversial move that complicates Middle East politics. Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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The American and Israeli flags are on display Wednesday on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. President Trump announced that the U.S. will view Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and he ordered the State Department to "begin preparation to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv." The controversial move threatens to unsettle the region's volatile politics. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Religious Leaders Divided Over Trump's Jerusalem Decision

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The Ten Commandments monument that was removed from the Alabama Judicial Building is on display in 2004. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

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From Roy Moore To Tax Debate, A Spotlight On Christian Nationalism

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Nura Mustafic, one of the Mothers of Srebrenica, wipes away tears as she reacts to the verdict handed down against former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, in The Hague on Wednesday. Mladic was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison for atrocities perpetrated during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war. Phil Nijhuis/AP hide caption

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U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore faces allegations that he acted inappropriately toward a 14-year-old girl when he was 32. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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White Evangelicals Conflicted By Accusations Against Roy Moore

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Roy Moore's Sexual Misconduct Allegations Testing White Evangelicals Tolerance

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The lobby features a 140-foot digital mosaic that rotates through different images. Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR hide caption

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Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR

New Museum Invites Visitors To 'Engage' With The Bible

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The man who started it all: German theologian and religious reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) Imagno/Getty Images hide caption

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The Reformation, 500 Years Later

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500 Years Later, Some Issues That Martin Luther Raised Remain

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In Puerto Rico, Generators Divide Those With And Those Without

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Hurricane Maria Takes A Toll On Businesses In Puerto Rico

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Puerto Ricans More Concerned About Situation On Island Than Trump's Tweets

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How Aid Is Being Delivered To Those In Need In Puerto Rico

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Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Trump's Religious Ambassador Nominee

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Police Investigation Into Las Vegas Attack Continues

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