extend a cloak of protection

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Senior Member
Mandarin / the Shanghai Dialect

" Maryland’s new religious statute guaranteed toleration to all Christians. But, less liberally, it decreed the death penalty for those, like Jews and atheists, who denied the divinity of Jesus. The law thus sanctioned less toleration than had previously existed in the settlement, but it did extend a temporary cloak of protection to the uneasy Catholic minority."

From the American Pageant by Thomas A. Bailey

There are a few threads about "cloak of protection" in the forum. I still have doubts about its meaning here. I think cloak means an outer layer or on the surface. Does " a cloak of protection" here implies that the protection is not strong or firm as it is only on the surface?
  • kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Imagine it starts to rain. If you put on a cloak for protection, the purpose of the cloak is to cover your whole body. The rain will run off the cloak and protect all your other clothes beneath - your shirt, your pants, your waistcoat, whatever.

    So "cloak of protection" is just a figurative term for something that protects something else in a general way (it covers a whole area) without getting into specific details.

    The fact that they added the word "temporary" suggests that we know, from historical hindsight, that the protection didn't last a long time.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I agree. The "cloak of protection" sounds positive. The only negative thing I see there is that it was only temporary.
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