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

Wanyu Zhang /NPR
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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Church Groups Registering Voters Must Heed IRS Laws

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Sharon Litton of Shreveport, La., is baptized by immersion in the Jordan River, where Jesus is said to have been baptized. Such baptisms are a staple of evangelical tours of Israel. Courtesy of Randy Litton hide caption

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Courtesy of Randy Litton

As U.S. Jews Cool To Israel, Evangelicals Flock There As Tourists

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Tourism To Israel Is On The Rise, With More U.S. Evangelical Christians Visiting

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How And Why People Come Up With Conspiracy Theories

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New Poll Shows Young Americans Are Not Especially Knowledgeable About Religion

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Trump's Remarks Against Congresswomen Are Not The Only Example Of The 'Go Back' Taunt

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Church And Clergy Have Fallen Out Of Favor, New Polls Show

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State Department Conference Aims To Identify Victims Of Religious Persecution

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Democrats are hopeful they can mobilize a religious left to counter the religious right. But it's unclear whether that outreach will resonate with voters who make up the religious middle. A-Digit/Getty Images hide caption

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A-Digit/Getty Images

Democrats Have The Religious Left. Can They Win The Religious Middle?

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Ed Rowe (from left), Rebecca Wilson, Robin Hager and Jill Zundel react to the defeat of a proposal that would have allowed LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage within the United Methodist Church, at the denomination's Special Session of the General Conference in February. Sid Hastings/AP hide caption

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Sid Hastings/AP

After Disagreements Over LGBTQ Clergy, U.S. Methodists Move Closer To Split

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Bishops In Amazon Region To Debate Whether Married Men Might Join Priesthood

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Catholics And Southern Baptists Consider How To Respond To Sex Abuse In The Church

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Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear speaks to the denomination's executive committee in February. Church leaders meet this week to discuss clergy sexual abuse cases. Mark Humphrey/AP hide caption

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Mark Humphrey/AP

Southern Baptists To Confront Sexual Abuse And Role Of Women In The Church

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Darrell Patterson, a devout Seventh Day Adventist, says he was fired after he refused to work on Saturday. Dan Weber/Courtesy General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists hide caption

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Dan Weber/Courtesy General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

How The Fight For Religious Freedom Has Fallen Victim To The Culture Wars

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The Debate Grows Over What Religious Freedom Means

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