A couple of employees at Dubuque, Iowa’s Every Photo Store decided they wanted to prove they aren't crying wolf. You really shouldn't point your camera at the sun without a solar filter. To prove it, they pointed a camera right at the sun without a solar filter.
The employees connected a DSLR body to a Canon 400mm f/2.8 IS II lens with the shutter set to six seconds. In that short amount of time, the sun began to melt the inside of the camera. They held it longer afterward, and the camera began to smoke.
It's an extreme example, of course. You aren't guaranteed to instantly destroy your camera just by pointing the camera up. You don't need the shutter set for six seconds to shoot the brightest thing in the universe. (Some cameras allow light in during various preview or live view modes.) And yes, that's a huge, expensive lens, and it's pointed directly at the sun instead of a wide-angle landscape. Nonetheless, the point stands. The sun is capable of harming cameras in certain situations. Even a small amount of this kind of damage isn't going to do your camera any favors.
A solar filter runs between $60 and $200. If you really want to get a great shot of the sun, you should probably throw one on your camera to be safe. Read more about that and other tips for photographing the solar eclipse here. The tips include a more in-depth look at photographing with a DSLR or your phone's camera.