For most of religion's history one of its primary uses was to keep the exploited masses from rising up against their oppressors. By and large this was done by telling a story about how if you are a good little boy or girl in your oppression then you will get your reward "later". Another tact was that you had already done something that put you in the miserable exploited position you were born into.
So what's the story these days? The story is that if you aren't happy then you need more stuff, and if you can't afford more stuff then it's your fault for being lazy. People will look back at this era with the same distain that we have for the caste system. Its not as totalitarian, and it has more outs, but consumer driven capitalism has many of the same oppressive mechanisms that religion has always had.