It has been described so.
Cult is a pejorative term, and I can see why people may not like the word being used in connection with Steiner. However, it is interesting to look at why the accusation is made sometimes.
This is one definition (from the online dictionary);
“An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest”.
I would say this could fit the description of some Steiner people reasonably accurately. The “persons” can be fairly easy to spot. (although interestingly, you can mistake people for members of this group, when they are not, as happened to me recently!)
Often they share broadly similar political, social and aesthetic opinions, and may be part of other similar groups – say Transition or the Green Party- or maybe agree on the kind of food or leisure activities they enjoy.
However, becoming part of the Steiner culture, which will often happen initially through kindergartens (there are many here), families will gradually assume more and more of the habits and values of their group. Maybe they do the same kind of arts and crafts, cook the same kind of meals, wear similar clothes, shop in the same places and drink coffee in the same cafe.
In addition to this there may be recommendations or advice provided by kindergarten or school teachers on what kind of books to read, crayons to use (black is not used in Steiner circles as it is considered to represent the” lifeless” – awkward if the child wants to draw herself and she has black hair…) what shapes to draw, even whether to have a tv or computer in the house.
This to me is where Steiner begins to look like a cult.
It is one thing to say too much tv may not be good for young children (I wholeheartedly agree) but to start issuing advice on other matters looks kind of odd.
When a group starts to reject aspects of mainstream culture they will stick together more and more. They do not have to move in to a compound and cut themselves off from their families to present an image of a separate society, aloof from the townspeople outside.
Maybe people enjoy being part of what they feel is an exclusive group, or just pleased to be part of a crowd.
The danger is that it will become more and more difficult to depart from the norms of this group, and should there ever arise a reason to withdraw from it, a traumatic period of readjustment to life outside will follow.