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

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Tom Gjelten
Wanyu Zhang /NPR

Tom Gjelten

Correspondent, Religion and Belief, National Desk

Tom Gjelten reports on 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 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. Over the next decade, he covered social and political strife in Central and 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.

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 latest book, A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story (Simon & Schuster), published in 2015, recounts the impact on America of the 1965 Immigration Act, which officially opened the country's doors to immigrants of color. He has also contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other outlets.

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 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 arrives at the window of his studio for the Angelus noon prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday. Alessandra Tarantino/AP hide caption

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Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Yazidi refugees from Iraq are among those fleeing religious persecution. The Biden administration promises to allow refugees into the U.S. at much higher numbers than the Trump administration did. Muhammed Muheisen /AP hide caption

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Muhammed Muheisen /AP

Biden Gives New Hope To Refugees Fleeing Religious Persecution

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LGBTQ supporters gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 8, 2019. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP hide caption

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Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Religious Freedom Arguments Give Rise To Executive Order Battle

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Religious leader and philosopher Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was the former chief rabbi of the U.K. He has died at the age of 72. BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Towering Intellect Of Judaism, Dies At 72

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Britain's Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Dies At 72

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Evangelical voters have shown strong support for President Trump over the last four years, and 8 in 10 voted for him in the 2020 election as well. Samuel Corum/Getty Images hide caption

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Samuel Corum/Getty Images

2020 Faith Vote Reflects 2016 Patterns

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President Trump has paid far more attention to Catholics this year than he did in 2016. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

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Alex Brandon/AP

For Trump, Conservative Catholics Are The New Evangelicals

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Pope Francis attends a interreligious ceremony for peace Tuesday in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome. Gregorio Borgia/AP hide caption

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Gregorio Borgia/AP

Pope Francis Calls For Same-Sex Civil Union Law In New Documentary

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Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett speaks during her confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Patrick Semansky/Pool/AP hide caption

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Patrick Semansky/Pool/AP

Needing The Support Of Catholic Women, Democrats Are Careful With Amy Coney Barrett

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Can Amy Coney Barrett's Nomination To The Supreme Court Be A Win For Democrats?

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Religious leaders urge people of faith to pray for political leaders, both in general and when those elected officials are ill, even if people disagree with those leaders' policies. Paula Bronstein/AP hide caption

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Paula Bronstein/AP

The U.S. flag and flag of Vatican City are hung on the outside of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference building in Harrisburg, Pa., on March 26, 2019. Catholics outnumber Evangelicals in Pennsylvania by a 2-to-1 margin. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Catholic Voters In Pennsylvania Talk About The Presidential Election

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What Catholics In Pennsylvania Think About The Upcoming Election

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after President Donald Trump announced her as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House on Sept. 26. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

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Alex Brandon/AP

Amy Coney Barrett's Catholicism Is Controversial But May Not Be Confirmation Issue

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