Postcards from Phoenix: When Church Demands Obedience

In this third Postcard from Phoenix, former The Trinity Church member Tiffany Eneas reflects on the costs of conformity to the will of Mark Driscoll. One by one, church leaders, including Grace Driscoll, demanded that she cut ties with close friends until one day she realized what was happening.

Tiffany was slowly but surely being coerced by church leadership. She wanted to be a good church member and wanted to trust just authority. However, in a moment of clarity, she realized that her trust was being manipulated.

Monitoring social media and then rewarding and punishing people for their associations is disturbing behavior for the leadership of any organization. Alarm bells should go off when a pastor or pastor’s wife tells you that there are other church members you may not associate with as a condition of relationship.

Hi Warren,

It’s heating up in Phoenix, most days around 100 degrees, but that’s not what I mean. Things are getting very heated around these Trinity Church stories coming out. As my name gets associated with them, I’m starting to get nasty texts where I am getting cussed out and accused of lying and “getting in the way of God’s work” by Mark Driscoll’s most faithful followers. I had NO idea that a Christian believed that I had any power like that over Him. Maybe the teachings aren’t as good as I thought? Anyway, I digress.

I wanted to write to follow up on your last postcard from Luke! I felt like it was my turn to share when you spoke about “associating with non-approved people.” My story is not one of horror and abuse like many other faced, but I was definitely told who NOT to associate with. Let me tell you something about myself, NO ONE tells me what to do and women like that don’t fit well at a Mark Driscoll establishment.

I know I was unpopular with the Driscolls from the beginning. We had many incidents (these will be told later by my husband). I genuinely love people. I’m super relational with all sorts of people, from kids to the elderly. We walked into the church last June and I immediately made friends left and right. Maybe that was a threat to them in some way.

My friends (some pictured below) are all now “dangerous” somehow. I guess love, discernment and truth are dangerous attributes at TTC.

The Girls Picture

Looking back, things were incredible at the church until Trina Blatnik was no longer fellowshipping with us since her husband Dustin was fired from his position as worship pastor. (Dustin is also one of my husband’s and my best friends to this day, hopefully forever.) This was a MASSIVE blow to the church as a whole. From what I saw and heard from many, Dustin was the only staff member who was pastoral and relational. Everything else is extremely transactional, and it’s just my opinion, but he was the only glue holding things together biblically.

Then came Easter. The Driscolls and some of the pastors saw an earlier Instagram picture of me from a trip to San Diego with friends who are considered unsafe and untrustworthy by the Driscolls. One of the people in the picture was Trina Blatnik.

The Easter Picture

Then there was this picture above from Easter. After a week of constantly hearing about the staff gossiping about the picture but not having courage to speak to us, we were finally approached on Saturday at 1pm, the week after Easter by Pastor Eden Fine. He danced around the issue, so in true “assertive wife” fashion I asked, “Do you wanna talk about the Easter picture or what?” We were then told the Blatnik’s, especially Trina, was unsafe. My husband was questioned as a leader because he was “still allowing” me to fellowship with my friend, Trina. We were told if we wanted to be personal friends with Eden and his wife, this friendship had to cease.

Mind you I came from Good Shepherd Community Church in Oregon which has VERY respected, famous, pastors. I attended that church for over 25 years and I trust them with every fiber of my being to this day. If they told me something like this (which they NEVER would) I would totally trust my pastor. So I blindly trusted Eden. My husband kind of did.

The following week I had a one on one meeting with Mark’s wife, Grace. My husband had just resigned from security and lots of rumors were flying around about my family, AGAIN. We were meeting, so i thought, to discuss how to restore things between us. I knew things were off when we met in a room with two chairs pulled forward in front of a glass door with two security guards on the other side for protection. From me… I guess. This is actually laughable. I’m 5’2 and I only run if something wild is chasing me.

We had a conversation full of wonderful things like her “red flags about my family.” Then I talked about how her kids offended mine and the roller coaster of emotions they put my kids on frequently over the past year. Grace brought up her past hurts with friendships and randomly described how the security guard at Mars Hill helped take their church down…that was prophetic, maybe?

Then we got to the “friends talk.” Hers was much more bold than Eden’s. I was blatantly told the Chase family is not safe. Specifically, this meant the parents of Landon Chase (Landon is married to her daughter Ashley). This hit very close to home because my daughter happens to be dating Luke Chase, Landon’s brother. As we all now know, the Driscolls consider Ashley’s in-laws to be unwelcome at the church.

Next was Trina. My reaction: “I know better than to be friends with her. I’ve been told already.”

The “Girls Picture” above is from that trip to San Diego that came up a couple times in the meeting with Grace. This trip bothered her. These friendships bothered her. I did tell Grace the trip was awkward because Trina was no longer fellowshipping with the church, and we were all still grieving that, and it was weird as the rest of us were all highly involved at Trinity.

Side note. Grace does not follow me on Instagram and I never told her about this trip. We didn’t share stuff like that… how did she see the pictures?

The one that really hurt me to my core in that meeting with Grace was one of my dear friends, Mariya Kiforishin. She was dangerous as well? Pastor Brandon had eluded to this before, but I didn’t think I was not to associate with her. She and her whole family have served their butts off for years at the church and were even invited to both of the Driscoll kids weddings.

Grace said I should be cut off from her “for this season until her husband could lead their house better, it was best to not fellowship with her.”

I am going to be honest here. I was still brainwashed and in agreement at this point.

I let Grace know there was an event the next day and I had purchased tickets for Mariya and me. She advised against going and told me to give tickets to Mariya to attend with someone else. I needed a break, she said.

I complied. How embarrassing. Here is the email I sent to Grace telling her I went along with what she said to do.

The day after the event, I literally woke up and was like WHAT ARE YOU DOING, TIFFANY!? It was like a light came on and I realized what I had let happen to me. I totally believed the lies. This is cult behavior to manipulate people and friendships.

I have apologized to these women. These incredible friends. Thank you Lord, they are so gracious and our friendships are stronger now than ever. We ARE all strong women. And we are led by men who are godly leaders, secure enough to let us be who God made us.

I’m so sorry for you, Grace. No one can live in peace manipulating people’s moves to keep a “Kingdom” in order forever. I’m afraid you are the one with a husband not leading well. When you get tired, I think you may find a lot of women willing to truly love you and possibly even offer real friendship.

With gratitude for eyes opened to truth and true friendship,



Read all of the Postcards from Phoenix

For more on The Trinity Church, click here

For a summary of recent controversies surrounding The Trinity Church, click here

23 thoughts on “Postcards from Phoenix: When Church Demands Obedience”

  1. Re-reading the headline, I realize it is a bit misleading. Most churches “demand obedience” to god (or Jesus since the topic is christian churches). It is just an issue when churches demand obedience to the church itself (or rather its “leaders”) that there is a problem.

  2. What really strikes me about this post is how much Tiffany seemed ready to absolutely trust instructions from a pastor, to the point of ditching good friends. Even now (after she’s realized how wrongly she was steered by Driscoll) she says, “Mind you I came from Good Shepherd Community Church in Oregon which has VERY respected, famous, pastors. I attended that church for over 25 years and I trust them with every fiber of my being to this day. If they told me something like this (which they NEVER would) I would totally trust my pastor.” It seems to me that blind trust (in anyone) is just a bad way to go about setting up your life. There *has* to be critical thought, not just sometimes, but all the time – even when a pastor (or teacher, or boss, or parent, whatever) tells you what their opinion is.

    Also, were they oblivious to all the problems that had happened with Driscoll before? Did they know and just choose not to read up on stuff?

    1. I’m not sure how many people even knew who Mark Driscoll was when he fled Seattle and landed here in the Valley, largely because Driscoll is not widely known outside fundamentalist Christian circles. For as much press as Driscoll has received in Christian-oriented media outlets and blogs like this one, it seems he has received little to no coverage in secular media. Personally, I don’t think I have seen any stories about Driscoll in non-religious media, save for one: a brief story on a local TV station here in Phoenix when he first started Trinity Church, which mentioned Driscoll’s scandals in Seattle and included a very brief interview with Dr. Throckmorton. A story which likely aired only because a few readers of this blog (including myself) tipped off local media. I personally sent emails about Driscoll to the Arizona Republic, the Phoenix New Times, and every local TV news outfit, and to the best of my knowledge, only the one TV station bit. (And I can’t for the life of me remember which TV station it was on, that’s how long it’s been and/or how ineffective the story was.)

      I think there are a couple of reasons for this. For one, the mainstream press doesn’t seem that interested in scandals involving religious figures unless there is a salacious angle involved–adultery, sexual abuse, child abuse, a “straight” pastor being caught in a gay affair, etc. Think Ted Haggard, or Jerry Falwell Jr., or Carl Lentz and Hillsong, etc. Financial misdeeds, plagiarism and/or an emotionally and spiritually abusive boss/pastor just aren’t as newsworthy.

      Secondly –speaking of Hillsong and of Scientology, for that matter–having well-known celebrities in your congregation also raises the profile of a church into the mainstream, and to the best of my knowledge anyhow, no musicians, actors, athletes or other celebrities of note have been affiliated with Mars Hill, or Trinity for that matter.

      Having said that…perhaps it is time to email a local media outlet or four, again….

    2. I think the fact that several people said they attended Trinity because it “was having in person services during the covid shutdown” tells you a lot about their ability to accurately evaluate information.

      1. Yeah, between his “If you’re a man you gotta be a **MAN** – and that means doing **MANLY** things like riding motorcycles and guns and MMA and cleaning your guns in front of your daughter’s dates b/c her vagina is your property, and keeping your wife in check.”, and anti-mask covid nonsense, he’s gonna attract a certain clientele. I kind of think that’s got to amp up the level to which the congregants feel like they *definitely* need a very organized security team, radio-ing back and forth with codenames for the various head honchos, giving folks ‘ocular patdowns’ and doing ‘threat assessments’, LOL.

    3. Human nature has not changed. The Israelites did not want to set foot on God’s mountain, they wanted the notorious celebrity Moses to do that for them. People do not really want to approach God personally, so they look for someone else with a narcissistic self-assuredness to do it for them. This is how they get hooked so easily into a cult. Yet God chose Moses because four decades taking care of sheep in the desert humbled him greatly. No one else chooses leaders that look like the way he ended up. Instead we look for the pompous ones and never mind they are buffoons. It is hard work to seek to know God personally. Unfortunately many are lazy and others are too intimidated to be the priest so they look for someone else to be a middleman. And then they get surprised when they get sucked into a cult of personality!

    4. Well, don’t forget that women are taught by the evangelical community that they must be submissive to practically everyone—husband, pastor, pastor’s wife, male elders, women’s ministry leaders, etc. Regardless of what you believe about women and submission, this can (and has) opened the door to all kinds of abuse—spiritual, relational, physical and sexual. Also, the fact that Grace Driscoll was trying to exert inappropriate control over Tiffany’s friendships does not neatly fall into a violation of any of the ten commandments—-so for Tiffany, it wouldn’t have been immediately obvious that something unbiblical and wrong was going on.

  3. I’m curious as to how these friends were “dangerous” and “not safe.” Where there any specifics given in these conversations? Does anyone at this church even ask for specifics?

    1. I suspect that the “spectrum of trust” is biased downward, and association with people with low trust ratings will drag down one’s own rating. Speculating: since outsiders are not known to be trust-worthy, it’s might be a mark of untrustworthiness to have too many (or perhaps any) friends outside the charmed circle. It definitely evokes WT’s prior post about whether one is in a cult.

    2. I’m curious how nobody ever seems to have brought up Matt 18:15-17 to these “leaders” – if they [the leaders] had concerns they should go to those people first, then if nothing gets solved, go to the whole church. This back room dealing nonsense is shameful

      1. They did go to those people 1st, that is how they got kicked out of the church.

  4. To an outsider like me, it seems as though people in these churches are worshiping pastors, and not God, who appears to take second place. I’m finding these postcards fascinating, because it’s like looking into a world I didn’t know existed.

    1. Yes. A church that worships Driscoll’s toxic masculinity. I am thankful for Dr. Throckmorton’s excellent coverage. Also, Driscoll’s latest abuses are now being reported by Julie Roys as well.

      1. Julie has a new article on him. Among the new info:

        —Driscoll distrusts everyone “to the point of installing a firearm safe with assault rifles in your office and even having your detail carry collapsible carbines around campus,” Freese said.

        I suspect this is going to end worse than Seattle. I sure hope no one gets killed.

        1. Wow. Does he not know the consequences of “Living by the Sword”?
          Looks like Driscoll is leading his flock toward another Branch Davidian Waco incident.

          1. One of the wages of this kind of narcissism is paranoia. I would not take this lightly because this is how men like David Koresh and Jim Jones end up leading others to death. At 18 neither man was the gun packing lunatic that they eventually became. It takes time to devolve. I keep seeing signs that “Christians” are becoming more militant politically and are seeing violence less and less like Jesus did. A recent Barna survey found that about 40% of professing Christians are willing to accept some political violence in order for them to get what they want. I am increasingly concerned about rhetoric that is leading to a kind of civil war. There are those on both the right and left who would go off if something lit the fuse. We are already seeing signs of that.

          2. You’re so right. I’m old enough to remember glimpses of the 1980s/1990s “Satanic Panic”— opportunist Evangelicals spreading mass hysteria about kids and their rock music. A youth-pastor circulating a “story” back then comes to mind: “Satanists” were murdering teens on the outskirts of town. But the youth-pastor then needed account for why no families reported their missing children, no reporting from the two city newspapers, no accounts on record at the police department, not a word from first responders, nothing from coroners, and so on. For the “story” to be true, hundreds of people had to be lying. And only this one youth-pastor, having done no research himself, was the one telling the “truth,” thereby cultivating even more false outrage among Evangelicals.

            Now skip forward to 2020: (1) Evangelical conspiracy theories deny the existence of COVID, resulting in numerous viral outbreaks and deaths of pastors and congregants alike. (2) Evangelical anti-maskers display their blatant disregard for the well-being of others. and (3) anti-vaccine Evangelicals are keeping the U.S. from ever reaching herd immunity, thereby continuing the spread of death. (4) Evangelicals raise almost $100k to support terrorist Kyle Rittenhouse, merely one matter against a backdrop of significant Evangelical support for (5) anti-Black police riots and state-sanctioned executions by police throughout the summer. Evangelicals supporting brutality and murder.

            Now to 2021: Significant numbers of Evangelicals support murderous police officer Derek Chauvin. And earlier in 2021: on January 6, decades of lies, falsehoods, and conspiracy theories combined with the bogus “presidential election fraud” accusations from November lead to the murderous failed coup attempt on January 6, with insurrectionists praying and waiving a “Jesus 2020” flag.

            Hell yes, frothing-at-the-mouth Evangelicals wedded to White Nationalism and authoritarian neo-fascism are manifesting a Gospel of Death, and they are indeed lusting for more violence and murder, thereby leading the U.S. into another civil war. They will certainly provoke more murder and violence as we approach 2024. And their cycle of lies, fear, and warmongering will not end until they are held accountable.

          3. To be fair not all anti-vax people are evangelicals. My wife is ex-Orthodox Russian and she is paranoid about pretty much all modern medicines. And I am equally concerned about CRT and conspiracy theories on the left leading liberal Christians to a place of rioting and violence. Some of those already involved in the violence for the last year do claim to be Christian as well. But I see the Evangelicals as being more hypocritical for they want to spread the faith in Jesus Christ and yet many stand for things that are the opposite of His clear teachings. Many on the left also stand for that which is the opposite but they are far less concerned, in general, in making more Christians. My nephew is very into the conspiracy theories and he is not an evangelical.

            I am concerned about violent spiritual forces that are seducing people on both extremes towards a civil war. The war will only kill and destroy which is a price too high to pay for any kind of supposed good that may eventually come out of it.

          4. You raise a good point. Now that I think about it, a significant portion of Indigenous peoples initially resisted vaccination and some still do today. Unfortunately (though partially understandable), one consequence of the long documented record of actual mistreatment and exploitation of the Indigenous results in massive distrust of the U.S. government, which in turn results in conspiracy theories of their own that still circulate today.

  5. Honestly if this were a letter from a former Scientologist it wouldn’t read any differently.

    1. You have no idea how many times I have said in the past week, “NOT AGAIN! I went through this with Scientology!”

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