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

4:29pm

Tue August 4, 2015
Religion

In A Try For Transparency, Mormon Church Releases Historical Documents

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

1:00pm

Fri July 10, 2015
It's All Politics

Pastors Eye A Move From God's House To The Statehouse

Originally published on Wed July 15, 2015 4:11 pm

"Somebody's values are going to reign supreme," said David Lane, who has organized political training sessions for evangelical pastors. "We want people with our values to be elected to office and to represent our interests there."
Brandon Thibodeaux Getty Images

Many ministers do their best to stay away from politics when they preach, but hundreds of conservative pastors around the country are so upset about what they see as a moral crisis in government that they are preparing to run for public office themselves, with the goal of bringing "biblical values" to the political arena.

The initiative is led by David Lane, a born-again Christian and self-described "political operative" who has organized four large-scale training sessions in which evangelical pastors are tutored in the practical aspects of running a political campaign.

Read more

7:14am

Fri July 10, 2015
Religion

Evangelical Pastors Gather To Learn Another Calling: Politics

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 5:03 pm

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Read more

5:10pm

Fri June 5, 2015
National Security

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

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 8:24 pm

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

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

3:23am

Thu April 30, 2015
Parallels

Learning About The Quran ... From A Catholic Archbishop

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 3:11 pm

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald is one of the Catholic Church's top experts on Islam. He has served the Vatican in places such as Tunisia, Uganda and Egypt, and now is promoting interfaith understanding by teaching Jesuit students in Cleveland about the Quran.
Rob Wetzler

As a 12-year-old Catholic boy growing up in England, Michael Fitzgerald decided he wanted to be a missionary in Africa. Eight years later, he was studying theology and learning Arabic in Tunisia.

He went on to devote his priestly ministry to the promotion of interfaith understanding between Muslims and Christians, and became one of the top Roman Catholic experts on Islam. He has served as the archbishop of Tunisia, the papal nuncio — effectively a Vatican ambassador — in Cairo, and the Vatican's delegate to the Arab League.

Read more

5:37pm

Thu March 26, 2015
Religion

Church Of Scientology Calls New HBO Documentary 'Bigoted'

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 8:01 pm

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

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

12:43pm

Thu February 26, 2015
The Two-Way

Pew Study On Religion Finds Increased Harassment Of Jews

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 9:42 pm

Boys in Uppsala, Sweden, read supportive messages placed at the entrance of a mosque following an attack in January. A new Pew study finds that religious intolerance is a global problem, with Muslims facing more hostility from individuals, and Christians from governments. Targeting of Jews, the study found, has gotten worse over in recent years.
Anders Wiklund AP

Updated at 2 p.m. ET.

This week, a man was sentenced to die in Saudi Arabia because he renounced his faith in Islam; a Hindu leader in India made a new accusation against Mother Teresa; a mosque near Bethlehem was set on fire.

Read more

6:20am

Fri February 20, 2015
Religion

More Muslim Groups Voice Willingness To Combat Extremism In Their Faith

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 8:10 am

Mohamed Magid, imam with the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, speaks during in September during an anti-extremism news conference. He says that if someone with dangerous views comes to his mosque, he first tries to correct them, but reports them to authorities if necessary.
Michael Reynolds EPA/Landov

The reluctance of President Obama and others to link Middle East terrorism explicitly to Islam at this week's "Countering Violent Extremism" summit exposed them to withering criticism, and not entirely from conservatives. Some Muslim reformers who have been struggling to combat radicalism in their mosques and communities have been willing to talk about the extremist ideologies they encounter.

Read more

9:23am

Sun February 15, 2015
Religion

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

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 12:49 pm

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

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

5:17pm

Tue February 10, 2015
Politics

New Government Agency Designed To Tackle Cyber Threats More Effectively

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 12:29 am

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Read more

Pages