UPDATE: The Exodus website was restored March 31 after a two-day outage. However, content from the past six months remains lost. A message on the front page continues to imply — incorrectly, we believe — that the hosting company was responsible for maintaining a backup of Exodus’ dedicated server:

Dear Friends,

Both our main website (the one you are on) and the Exodus Freedom Conference website suffered a major server-side crash on March 29th. The webhost company we are currently with did not have a recent usable backup of the website but found one from last August. The site you are currently looking at does not reflect all of the numerous blog posts and Exodus Association changes from the past seven months. We are working very hard to restore these websites but it will take some time and expense. Thank you for your patience and we would appreciate your prayers.

Blessings,
Randy Thomas

Executive Vice President
Exodus International

UPDATE 2: Exodus Executive Vice President Randy Thomas writes on his blog:

Friday the two websites for Exodus (main and conference) crashed and burned. Our current web host admitted to not only causing it but not having a usable back up after last August. We lost seven months worth of changes, updates, builds, theme modifications … and more.

Given the lack of specifics, and what we know about distributed server plans, we are skeptical of Thomas’ assignment of responsibility for the crash and for the absence of a backup.

UPDATE 3: Exodus has published a technical explanation of the outage, identifies a host action which caused the outage, and confirms that Exodus had opted not to perform backups recently due to resulting difficulties.

ORIGINAL STORY: On Saturday afternoon, March 30, Exodus President Alan Chambers announced on Facebook:

Exodus website and conference site are down and potentially gone forever thanks to our hosting company—they don’t have a backup. Say a prayer—

This existential crisis appears to have begun Friday morning, when something happened to Exodus’ dedicated server. Exodus Executive Vice President Randy Thomas began tweeting Saturday morning to the organization’s web host, In Motion Hosting.

randy normal Exodus Suffers Two Day Web Outage, Loses Six Months of ContentRandy Thomas @RThomasART
11 hours ago
@InMotionCares I would love more details asap. Sites have been down for 24 hrs now & preventing people from registering for our conference.

 

randy normal Exodus Suffers Two Day Web Outage, Loses Six Months of Content

Randy Thomas ‏@RThomasART
11 hours ago
@InMotionCares I have reached out to anyone and everyone I could find. I also have 2 support tickets.

 

randy normal Exodus Suffers Two Day Web Outage, Loses Six Months of ContentRandy Thomas ‏@RThomasART
16 hours ago
@inmotionhosting the organization I work for has websites on dedicated server with you. Your server is down for 24 hrs. I’ve gotten no help.

But Ex-Gay Watch webmaster David Roberts told Truth Wins Out that dedicated server plans generally don’t include backup or support; organizations that lease a dedicated server must either 1) have qualified staff to constantly secure, manage, and back up the site, or 2) pay premium support fees.

“They [Exodus] appear to have a VPS or dedicated server.  Those things take vigilance to maintain,” Roberts told TWO.

At this early stage, there is no evidence of negligence by the hosting company. Whether the Exodus site was hacked or failed on its own is unclear. For the record, Truth Wins Out condemns hacking, regardless of its victim.

It is also possible that Chambers and Thomas are panicking due to a lack of understanding of their dedicated server, and that the problem can be fixed by qualified technicians.

If the site is truly lost, the incident represents another in a line of hardships for Exodus — but it also gives the organization an opportunity to start afresh. The former site suffered from personal religious testimonies that voiced intrafamily vindictiveness, envy, unresolved depression and addiction, and denial of personal responsibility. These examples of unintended drama originated from Exodus’ pre-2012 philosophy of scapegoating parents and liberal values for homosexuality — and blaming homosexuality for unrelated problems such as alcohol, drug, and sexual addiction as well as clinical depression.

So as the sun dawns on Easter Sunday, Exodus is left to wonder what sort of resurrection it faces — a resumption of business as usual, or the task of rebuilding an online presence — perhaps with less bitter prejudice — from scratch.