I would say you are not off-base here.
I am not sure it applies exclusively to Buddhism either. In modern Western societies based on basically materialist philosophies, religious ethics may seem quaint or outdated.
For some (a minority) the reaction to this problem is to embrace fundamentalism, hence the decline of mainline Protestant dominations and the explosive growth of Evangelical movements in the USA for example.
As Asia develops economically and becomes more exposed to materialist philosophy, unfortunately the problem you mention will also increasingly manifest there. In Thailand a highly placed senior monk lamented to me that in the countryside the people wete still willing to take and practice, at least for fixed periods, the Panca Sila/ 5 Precepts. In Bangkok he said people really didn't want to take them.
Modern materialism and Buddhism are a difficult fit. Ethics especially are a tough sell in a world where comfort, convenience and material success have become the new 3 Trainings.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin