Roger L. Stevens, the impressario at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, has a problem with roots in the era of Watergate.

Stevens and the people who run the center don't know what to do with a request to allow a showing of "Born Again," the film story of Charles W. Colson of Watergate renown.

Colson and the non-profit Prison Fellowship, with which he is associated, want to premiere the movie in September at the Kennedy Center as a benefit for their prison ministry.

Stevens took the request to the board of directors two weeks ago. The board debated it and then bounced it back to Stevens for a decision.

Stevens said yesterday that there was "some feeling that we shouldn't be mixed up in political things . . . but then, we had 'All the President's Men.' One of these days, I'll decide. I'll have to get with our attorney."

As Stevens noted, no one had a problem when the request came in to allow the world premiere of "All the President's Men" to take place in early 1976 at the kennedy Center.

That was the film version of the book that old how Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the newspaper reporters, tracked the Watergate scandal into the White House.

The premiere was a glittering success. Crowds flocked to see the reporters and the stars who portrayed them, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

There was nary a peep of dissent or grumbling about use of the Eisenhower Theater for showing a film that, for all its insights into newspapering, had a decidedly political flavor to it.

But, of course, that was quite a different story, and today Stevens and the Kennedy Center directors aren't quite certain whether "Born Again" qualifies for showing.

Stevens said yesterday that he would have to see the film first before deciding. Against what standards would he judge it? "We would draw up guidelines before we made the decision," he said.

Did he screen "All the President's Men" beforehand and was it judged against any general standards at the center?

"I was out of town when it was shown," Stevens said. "Either they fit it [the standard] or they didn't."

Wh approved its showing?

"I probably okayed that," Stevens said.

If Stevens was in a quandary, Colson and Gordon Laux, executive vice president of the Prison Fellowship, were equally perplexed about what had the faint coloration of a double standard.