First and foremost, never, EVER look directly at the Sun through your viewfinder. EVER.
Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to point your camera directly at the sun, whether you're looking through the viewfinder or not. This becomes more critical as your lens gets longer - a telephoto lens is essentially a telescope, so you'd be focussing all the light, heat, and UV radiation from the sun directly into your camera, which, to answer your question, will very likely damage it, especially if you actually make an exposure (thus letting the light/radiation hit the sensor).
You can apparently achieve a quick and dirty protection system by stacking a couple of UV and skylight filters together. You can also buy special solar filters as well. However, all the advice I've ever read has always said that you shouldn't even risk that.
The only 'guaranteed' safe way to take a photo of the Sun is in fact to project an image through a telescope onto a piece of card, and take a photo of that. To be honest, without special equipment (e.g. a satellite), photos of the sun tend to be pretty dull anyway. The most you will see are a couple of dark patches (sun spots). The Moon is a much more interesting subject for beginning astrophotography, and it's also much safer.