The definition of cult; "a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing."
There always has been a variety of categories of cults.
There are entertainers who have gained a "cult following". Some of these cult figures may have died a long time ago, but are still venerated for having produced a unique style of music, drama, fashion, etc.
There have always been political leaders who (for better or for worse) gained the support of many followers. You might refer to this type of phenomena as "a cult of personality".
There are religious cults. Some cults are obviously "off the deep end". Others may be more subtle.
I used to think that I was immune from all forms of cultism as long as I attended a fundamentalist bible believing Christian church.. A time came when I got a rude awakening. I found out that even in evangelical Christian churches there are people in leadership who supposedly have an "edge" over everyone else in regard to understanding and insight, but do not really deserve the praise of their followers.. I found that even among fundamentalist Christians, not all that glitters is gold.
A question comes to mind: What do you have to do in order to separate yourself from all forms of cultism?