Tom Gjelten

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.

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.

Pages

Religion
4:36 am
Fri July 17, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Raises Questions Of Religious Rights, Tax Status

Originally published on Sun July 19, 2015 1:00 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Read more
National Security
4:10 pm
Fri June 5, 2015

Why Are Only Three Observant Sikh Men Serving In The U.S. Military?

Army Cpl. Simranpreet Lamba (center) stands in formation with fellow soldiers before taking the oath of citizenship, prior to his graduation from basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., in 2010. He was the first enlisted soldier to be granted a religious accommodation as a Sikh since 1984.
Brett Flashnick AP

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 7:24 pm

If a Muslim woman may wear a headscarf at work, as the U.S. Supreme Court has now affirmed, perhaps a Sikh man should be able to wear a turban while serving in the U.S. military.

Read more
Religion
5:00 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Muslims Will Outnumber Christians This Century, Pew Says

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 6:27 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Read more
Religion
4:20 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Church Of Scientology Calls New HBO Documentary 'Bigoted'

The HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief airs Sunday — over the vigorous objection of Scientology officials.
Courtesy of HBO

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 7:01 pm

The Church of Scientology is famous for its efforts to silence its critics, but it has not blocked an upcoming HBO film that turns a harsh light on the powerful organization and its leadership.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, directed by Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, will debut Sunday over the vigorous objection of Scientology officials.

Read more
Religion
8:52 am
Sun February 15, 2015

Some See Extreme 'Anti-Theism' As Motive In N.C. Killings

This image provided by the Durham County Sheriff's Office shows a booking photo of Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who was arrested on three counts of murder early Wednesday. On his Facebook page, Hicks described himself as a gun-toting atheist.
Durham County Sheriff's Office AP

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 11:49 am

Outrage over the murder of three young Muslim Americans in North Carolina last week has gone international. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation said Saturday that the killings reflected "Islamophobia" and "bear the symptoms of a hate crime," but local authorities say they don't yet know what motivated the murders.

The man held responsible for the killings is an avowed atheist. Whether that's relevant in this case is not clear, but some experts see a new extremism developing among some atheists.

Read more
National Security
12:39 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Highlights Challenges Of Balancing Security, Liberty

Coverage of President Obama's speech about proposed changes for the National Security Agency continues with more of his comments, plus analysis.

National Security
4:31 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Senate Committee Lays Blame For Benghazi With State Department

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 6:44 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Senate Intelligence Committee today delivered its analysis of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed in that attack, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. It's a bipartisan report. Democrats and Republicans on the committee agreed, among other things, that the attack might have been prevented if the State Department had taken better precautions at the Benghazi post.

Read more
National Security
5:04 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Is U.S. Ready Rethink Sept. 11 Security Policies?

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 6:52 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. President Obama says he will soon propose changes at the National Security Agency. Former contractor Edward Snowden's disclosure of NSA surveillance programs widespread criticism and prompted a review of the agency's operations by Congress, the courts, and the White House. NPR's Tom Gjelten looks at whether the country is now at a turning point, ready to rethink the security policies in place since 9/11.

Read more
NPR Story
3:43 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

U.S. Reassesses Relationship With Rebel Groups In Syria

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 5:56 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more
Middle East
4:03 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Iran's Nuclear Deal Faces Big Test

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are scheduled to visit Iran's heavy-water reactor in the city of Arak on Sunday as part of an international deal on the country's nuclear program.
Hamid Forutan EPA/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:39 pm

The nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers will face its first test this weekend. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are due to make a long-delayed visit to a nuclear site in Iran where plutonium could be produced.

A nuclear reactor and associated production plant in Arak are a special concern because plutonium can be used in a nuclear bomb. Under last month's accord, Iran promised to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Officials on both sides say they are committed to the nuclear deal, but keeping it on track will be a challenge.

Read more

Pages