Buddha started teaching to an already very ritualistic India. But in suttas you can see when those other ascetics and Brahmins met the Buddha, he taught them a wholesome change towards the bodily and verbal behaviour what we generally call ethics/virtue (see the sila description of the DN 2). He newer subscribed them to rituals such as 3 x per day oil lamp offering to himself. Rituals are dependencies, and that's why sotapannas would drop that fetter (silabbataparaamaasa) forever. Then saying rituals are a protection is similar to saying paedophilia is needed to keep the need to rape woman at bay.
Perhaps, a wrapper/s of rituals are a protection to hide the lack of True Dhamma.
Stories and Vinaya also need to see individually in the light of guidelines given to Lady Visakha in AN 8.53.